Google Glass Available to U.S. I/O Attendees for $1,500 in Early 2013

Google is now accepting preorders for an Explorer Edition of Google Glass, its lightweight eyeglass-meets-smartphone invention. For U.S.-based attendees of its I/O developer conference willing to pay $1,500, it will ship in early 2013.

Google wowed the crowd at its I/O developer event June 27 with its Google Glass. It did this first by enlisting a Google Glass-wearing suite of athletes, from a team of skydivers traveling by plane to the roof of the San Francisco Moscone Center, to stunt bikers to a rappelling expert, all working under the conceit of delivering a Glass to Google co-founder Sergey Brin, on stage at the event, and second by announcing it would soon make the Glass available to the developers at the event.

Calling it a Glass Explorer Edition, Brin said they€™re now available for preorder, and Google will begin shipping the units early next year to U.S.-based attendees for $1,500.

€œThis is a really new technology, and we want to get you to help shape it,€ he told the crowd.

The Glass is essentially a pair of very lightweight eyeglasses with a tiny display-like component just above the user€™s right eye€”carefully positioned to not block the wearer€™s direct vision€”that enables the capture and sharing of photos and video in real time, such as in a Google Hangout (thus the skydiving escapade) as well as basically all the things we use our smartphones for. Google says it€™s working on a version that could be compatible with prescription glasses.

Can€™t picture it? Google posted a helpful video on YouTube.

The Glass could be worn by a surgeon, showing a difficult procedure from his or her perspective, or by a professional athlete€”what does it look like to have a Rafael Nadal serve aimed at you?€”or by a chef showing off a recipe or technique. Google expects a lot of parents will want to wear it to catch footage of their kids doing amazingly cute things. Surely, someday, we won€™t be spared a reality show from the perspective of a Glass.

But there€™s much more the Glass is capable of, and Googlers don€™t want to be the only one doing the thinking.

€œWe could just keep developing this in our own little corner of the universe€”many companies would just secretly develop it and say, €˜Ta-da! Here it is, world!€™ But since we showed it to the public in April, we€™ve gotten so many great ideas and so much feedback, and we found that so valuable,€ Brin said later, during a video interview on Bloomberg. €œWe want to take it to the next level by letting other people€”who are dedicated and serious and willing to be on the cutting edge€”letting them do their own experimentation learnings that can feedback to us and affect our future designs and software.€

The Glass, while figuratively and literally a show stopper€”Brin had to hop onstage and interrupt a demonstration, to properly time things with the skydivers€”wasn€™t the biggest announcement of the day. Google introduced Android version 4.1, code-named Jelly Bean; as rumored, a tablet of its very own, the (Asus-made) Nexus 7; and, greater surprise, the Google Q, a bowling-ball-shaped home media hub that can be controlled by an Android-running smartphone or tablet.

Google appeared to be in the unenviable position of following up a strong act€”Apple€™s Worldwide Developer€™s Conference took place in the same venue weeks earlier€”but it proved itself more than up for the challenge, exciting the crowd most, not with its answer to the iPad, but with two products unlike anything it might have occurred to us to hope for.

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