Google Glass: Specs and Expected Release Date

By Phill Powell

When last we reported about Google’s much-anticipated new product, Google Glass, the search-engine company was still working out some final tweaks. But now it’s a year later, and the wait is ticking down.

Are the masses ready to wear a heads-up display wherever they go? Google is betting they are. The Google Glass is in test use now and will be released during Q4 2013 or Q1 2014.

For anyone who isn’t aware of the basics about Google Glass, the device is a microcomputer attached to a thin pair of eyeglasses that don’t contain the typical pair of glass pieces. Instead, one small lens is positioned over the wearer’s right eye. The microcomputer projects a heads-up display—kind of like Tony Stark’s HUD in the “Iron Man” movies—over a portion of the wearer’s field of vision.

The HUD’s functionality is voice-driven, because Glass (as Google refers to it) uses bone-conduction technology. It also features a smartphone-like interface, but instead of speaking to Siri, the wearer issues a command, such as “OK, Glass…Take a video,” and the microcomputer shoots the footage you want. Or takes a photo. Or translates a foreign phrase for you. Or gives you travel directions.

Easier to Join the CIA?
As of mid-April, Google had finished production of the Glass Explorer Program devices—a small-batch of prototypes that have now been issued to Google-selected individuals who applied to serve as test users of Glass. Google is interested in analyzing their various experiences wearing Glass, and discovering if there are any tweaks that should be made to the product before Glass finally hits the consumer market, which is scheduled to occur sometime between the end of 2013 and the beginning of 2014.

Entry into the Glass Explorer Program wasn’t easy, or cheap. Interested persons had to submit a message via Google+ or Twitter of 50 words or less explaining why they wanted to join the test program. Those who were selected to participate then had to agree to travel to a Google Glass event in New York City, San Francisco or Los Angeles in order to pick up their Google Glass prototype. Finally, users had to also fork over $1,500 for the device—an amount significantly more expensive than the consumer version that Google is readying.

But the hoops and hurdles don’t end there. The Google Glass terms of service for the pre-release trial program spelled out just how seriously the manufacturer is taking project secrecy. “You may not resell, loan, transfer, or give your device to any other person,” it reads. “If you resell, loan, transfer, or give your device to any other person without Google’s authorization, Google reserves the right to deactivate the device, and neither you nor the unauthorized person using the device will be entitled to any refund, product support, or product warranty.” (In other words, better not lend your Glass prototype to that buddy of yours, or you could be out $1,500.)

Need directions and can’t take your eyes off the path ahead? With Google Glass, the directions will be projected where you can’t miss them.

Specs: Beyond the Looking Glass
It’s difficult at this point to report on the specs for Google Glass, because the specs that have been released apply to the prototype models being evaluated in the Glass Explorer Program. So while these specs are likely to be pretty close to what’s released to the consumer market, we can’t guarantee there won’t be tweaks made before the product is mass-launched. But here’s what we do know:

  • Operating System Glass runs on Android version 4.0.3 and higher.
  • Storage Glass will offer 16 GB of memory, with 12 GB of usable memory, plus a synch to Google Drive.
  • Screen Resolution Although there’s been no official word on this, it’s expected that Glass will display a 640×360 resolution.
  • Camera Glass utilizes a 5-megapixel camera and can deliver 720p video recording.
  • Connectivity Glass supports Wi-FI 802.11b/g, as well as Bluetooth functionality.
  • Apps As you would expect, Glass works will with Google apps (e.g., Google+, Google Maps, Gmail. Third-party developers are already working on apps for Glass, including Evernote, Skitch, Path and The New York Times app.
  • Compatibility Google says Glass will work with any Bluetooth-capable phone.
  • Model Colors So far, Glass models will be available in five colors: charcoal (black), tangerine (orange), shale (gray), cotton (white) and sky (blue).
  • Future Possibilities At present, Glass only has a small camera viewfinder. However, Google has suggested that manufacturers of sunglasses (such as Bausch & Lomb, the makers of Ray-Bans) might create special Glass models for people who still want the traditional look and feel of sunglasses.

    Technology You Can Wear
    Google Glass is just another example of the incredible new trend known as wearable tech. Other examples include Apple’s new iWatch, which will soon be joined by wearable-tech jackets and other technology-enhanced garments and accessories.

    Students in Digital Media Academy’s Advanced Java for Minecraft & Android camp discover how to develop cutting-edge games for the Android™ platform, the same one that supports Google Glass. Campers also learn advanced programming techniques for Java™, one of the leading programming languages, as well as how to get the most from today’s hottest game: Minecraft®. It’s a combination course packed with fun and discovery. Come join us this summer at one of DMA’s fantastic tech camp locations!