Google Glass, the polymath company's take on a head-mounted video display and camera, is about to hit the market — for a limited few who make a compelling case for how to use it.
Google announced today (Feb. 20) a Glass Explorer Program, saying in a post, "We’re looking for bold, creative individuals who want to join us and be a part of shaping the future of Glass." To prove they stack up, potential explorers have to submit an application on Twitter or Google+, marked with the hashtag #ifihadglass, proposing how they would use it. Applications are due Feb. 27, and Google will contact winners in "mid-to-late March," it said on its website.
When can everyone else get them? In its post, Google has said only "stay tuned" and recommended that people follow the company on Twitter and Google+ for updates.
Google first showed off Project Glass in April 2012. It has since teased it on TV programs, in a Brin cameo on a New York subway and at New York Fashion Week 2012. But the most dramatic show was a livestream by Glass-wearing skydivers as they parachuted into the Google I/O conference this past June. The gear looks like a pair of stylish glasses, but for the addition of a small video screen that hangs over the right eye. A small camera is also built into them. It runs a full Android operating system with all the capabilities of a smartphone.
Google is far from the first company to try to make a head-mounted display. A company called Xybernaut had a product in 2002, essentially a headband that held (not very steadily) a small LCD screen in front of one eye. The rig had a cable that attached to a PocketPC — this was long before the iPhone. (I tried it back then and found it remarkably uncomfortable. If the headband slid down just a few millimeters, which it always did, I couldn't see a thing.)
Other companies have also come out with similar products recently. Vuzix, for example, has been teasing a headset with an arm that holds a display just to the side of the left or right eye. The M100 is a full Android device that also has Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity to pair with a smartphone. The company's website says that the M100 is "coming soon." No price is given, but Vuzix has said it will be less than $500. [See also: Before Google's Project Glass, 5 Wearable Tech Flops ]
In addition to describing what they would do with Glass, applicants can submit up to five photos and a 15-second video. Anyone can submit up to three applications. Being chosen isn't quite the same as winning, however. Those selected still have to pay the full price of the glasses, $1,500. And they have to pick them up in one of three locations — New York, L.A. or the San Francisco Bay Area. So a winner from Denver, for example, would also pony up for airfare.
Twitter pitches are already pouring in. Here are a few of the more clever (as well as smart-aleck) ones from Twitter:
I would use it for navigating my offroading/overlanding excursions, and then document a sabbatical on the appalachian trail #ifihadglass
#ifihadglass I wouldn't miss another photo oppurtunity in my daughter's life, scrambling to find my phone!
#ifihadglass I'd be discovering whether or not living in the future is something I should be looking forward to or not.
#ifihadglass I'd keep my hands on the wheel for good this time
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