Google Glass fans who have been salivating for the opportunity to buy one of the futuristic eyewear-mounted computers need wait no more. Google has announced that anyone in the United States can now buy a beta version Glass device as long as the company has them in stock.
The news came in a brief post on the Glass Google+ page on May 13, which explained that the company is continuing its recent efforts to expand the number of early "Explorer" users who are trying the devices out in the wild. Only five days earlier, on May 8, Google had announced that it was expanding Glass sales to more users in advance of an expected retail launch later this year.
"Last week we told you we'd be trying out new ways to find Explorers," the May 13 post states. "Well, we weren't kidding. We learned a lot when we opened our site a few weeks ago, so we've decided to move to a more open beta. We're still in the Explorer Program while we continue to improve our hardware and software, but starting today anyone in the U.S. can buy the Glass Explorer Edition, as long as we have it on hand."
The Glass devices, which sell for $1,500 plus taxes, can be configured and ordered at the Glass Website, according to Google. Several options and add-ons can raise the price of the devices.
In response to an email inquiry about the expanded Glass program, a Google spokesperson told eWEEK, "We look forward to welcoming in new Explorers who will each play a critical role in making Glass better ahead of a wider consumer launch."
Google has certainly been trying some interesting ideas in getting Glass out to a larger audience.
On April 15, Google held a one-day-only event where anyone in the United States could buy a Glass device as long as they paid the $1,500 price tag. Some reports followed the event, saying that Google never actually shut the doors to that one-day store and continued to take orders for a few days until the devices were gone.
For excited users, the reality of the Glass beta program is that it is still a product that is under development and it is certainly not finished.
Controversies still continue about the product as well. There have already been bars and restaurants that have banned Glass wearing in their establishments, as well as reports about several people being physically attacked while wearing Glass, though those reports have sometimes been sketchy.
Also in April, Google launched a new "Glass at Work" program to try to build interest in the business community about the possibilities of using Google Glass in workplaces.
Two businesses that are already experimenting with Glass are the Washington Capitals NHL hockey club and oil field services company Schlumberger, according to Google. The Capitals selected several hundred fans at a Jan. 14 game against the San Jose Sharks to try out a Glass app called Skybox that was built by APX Labs. Using Skybox, the fans were able to see real-time instant replays on the devices, view different camera angles, pull up player stats and information with simple commands, share game highlights on social media, and receive other customized and specialized information through a high-performance content management system serving the Verizon Center, according to an eWEEK report.
Schlumberger partnered with a company called Wearable Intelligence to use Glass to increase safety and efficiency for their employees in the field, according to Google. Both Glass projects are only the start of what is possible for businesses and the enterprise, according to Google.
Google Glass has been a topic of conversation among techies since news of it first surfaced in 2012. The first Google Glass units began shipping in April 2013 to developers who signed up at the June 2012 Google I/O developers conference to buy an early set for $1,500 for testing and development; the new technology was the hit of the conference. Google also then began shipping Glass units to lucky users who were given the privilege to buy their own early versions of Glass.
Each Google Glass device includes adjustable nose pads and a high-resolution display that Google said is the equivalent of a 25-inch high-definition screen from 8 feet away. The glasses also feature a built-in camera that takes 5-megapixel photos and video at 720p. Audio is delivered to wearers through their bones, using bone-conduction transducers.