Google Ventures Creates Group to Drive Google Glass Innovations

Google's investment arm wants to help startups come up with great ideas to drive Google Glass to even greater possibilities.

Google Glass is getting a big innovation push from Google's investment arm, Google Ventures, which has launched a new "Glass Collective" organization to seek out and nurture startups that can add features and capabilities to the Glass project.

The Glass Collective was announced April 10 in a post by Bill Maris, the vice president of Google Ventures, on the Google Official Blog.

"Glass is a potentially transformative technology," wrote Maris. "It's a window into the world's information, and a new way to share experiences with those you care about."

To capture more of its future possibilities, a new structure was needed to find and nurture the best ideas for Glass that are out there, according to Maris. "Smart entrepreneurs and engineers are going to develop amazing experiences through Glass," he wrote. To harness that, a big part of the company's strategy is to bring in other successful venture capital firms to get those developers and entrepreneurs involved and to attract more investment opportunities, he said.

"Here at Google Ventures, my partners and I thought the potential for Glass was significant enough to invite our friends at Andreessen Horowitz and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers to join us in exploring this big opportunity," he wrote. "We've formed the Glass Collective, an investment syndicate between our three firms, to provide seed funding to entrepreneurs in the Glass ecosystem to help jump-start their ideas."

Google Ventures was founded in 2009 as a venture capital fund that would work with portfolio companies full time on design, recruiting, marketing and engineering, according to the company. Google Ventures also includes a Startup Lab, which is a dedicated facility and educational program where companies can meet, learn, work and share, according to the group.

Google Ventures said it plans to invest more than $1 billion in the next five years on many types of innovations that can help drive Google forward. So far, Google Ventures has invested in more than 100 companies, including Nest, Kabam, Homeaway, SCVNGR, ngmoco and Whaleshark Media.

Maris could not be reached by eWEEK on April 11 for more details about the new initiative.

Maris did, however, appear at a press briefing at Google Ventures on April 10 about the new partnership, where he described how it will function, according to an article by Forbes.

"At Google Ventures we're not beholden to the traditional way things are done. … The plus (of that) is: we could think creatively about what we could do here," Maris said, according to Forbes.

Over the last few months, many new details have been emerging about the Glass project.

In March, it was reported that the head-mounted Glass devices would be assembled in Santa Clara, Calif., by well-known Taiwanese device builder Foxconn to showcase electronics manufacturing capabilities in the United States.

In a related move, Google has begun notifying applicants who have been selected to purchase the first 8,000 sets of Google Glass when they become available for real-world use and testing later this year.

In February, Google expanded its nascent test project for its Glass eyewear-mounted computer by inviting interested applicants to submit proposals for a chance to buy an early model and become a part of its continuing development. The selected applicants will have to pay $1,500 plus taxes, and will pick up the first-generation "Explorer Edition" devices at special events that will be set up in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles in the coming months.

So far, Glass has only been available to developers who attended the annual Google I/O Conference in July 2012, where the devices were unveiled officially.

Google Glass is not expected to be widely available to consumers until 2014, according to the company.

In March, Google began demonstrating some of the cool third-party apps that could be used on Glass when the devices were shown off at the annual South by Southwest Conference (SXSW). Among them were a news app that delivered headlines and photos from The New York Times, an email app and a note-creation app for Evernote.

The basic components of Glass feature an Android-powered display, a tiny Webcam, a GPS locator and an Internet connection node built-in to one side of a pair of glasses. The glasses are lightweight and may or may not have lenses.

Google also in March confirmed that prescription lenses would eventually be offered for users who need them to use Google Glass.

And even before Google Glass has hit the market, rumors of the next generation of the product already started showing up in February. The initial reports, based on a purported patent application, call for version 2 to work with both of the wearer's eyes using specialized lasers that would provide a dual-eye image, rather than the original version's one-eye display.