The Latest on Google Glass: Early Technical Details, Pre-order Units Made Available to I/O Attendees for $1500

Isabelle Olsson talks on stage at Google I/O 2012 with a light-blue Google Glass variant pictured behind her

Yesterday I showed you Google’s incredible live Glass demo where they took Project Glass on a skydiving adventure. Today I want to compile all of the Project Glass info that came out of Google I/O 2012 in one place. Below is the very latest info about Google Glass.

Although Google has been talking about Project Glass for a few months now, they’ve been sure to completely avoid any specific technical specifications. By following Project Glass news I’ve been slowly compiling information on the device from various sources and I’m trying to paint the best picture of it that I can from a technical standpoint. Most of the new info came from the day 1 keynote at 2012. First I’ll start by painting the most accurate picture I can about the device itself:

  • A display of unspecified resolution: using some sort of projection technique, possibly similar to the Lumus Optical Engine Module)
  • Camera: Most of the photos taken with Glass have a 2048×1536 resolution which corresponds to a 3.2MP camera. Technically capable of up to 1080p recording, but probably due to hardware limitations, we’ve only seen up to 720p videos.
  • Camera button
  • Standalone processor: this is an interesting revelation because it would appear as though Glass will be a standalone device, not just a smartphone accessory
  • Unspecified amount of on-board memory
  • Touchpad on the side for input
  • Microphone for recording and voice-command functionality
  • Speaker for feedback
  • Sensors: gyroscope, acceleormeter, and magnetometer (e-compass) confirmed. No direct confirmation of GPS
  • Unspecified radios: Google didn’t detail the on-board radios, but I’m willing to bet we’re looking at WiFi and Bluetooth
  • ~36 grams
Given the current picture of Google Glass, I’m thinking that a smartphone will be required for some of the functions such as 3G/4G data, GPS, and phone call functionality.

On stage, a Project Glass team member said that they’ve been working for nearly 2 and a half years on the project with the initial prototypes looking like this:

google glass prototype

Isabelle Olsson, Project Glass’ lead designer, was also on stage to share a bit about the design of the unit. So far I’ve seen black, white, and blue color variants of Glass (see the leading photo for the new blue color). Also I’ve seen Sergey Brin wearing clip-in sunglasses with his Glass and Olsson showed off a Glass unit which had a traditional glasses frame… perhaps down the road Glass will be offered with prescription glasses.

Sergey Bring wearing a sunglasses version of Google Glass

Something pretty amazing that Olsson mentioned was that the current Glass prototypes are lighter than many sunglasses. A quick scan for typical sunglasses weight seems to be around 36 grams, so I’ve put that above for my current best guess for the weight of Google Glass.

Much of the focus on Glass at I/O 2012 has been on what it’s like to use glass to share first-person photos and videos. A number of photos and videos taken with Glass were shown off as Google tried to demonstrate the emotional impact of the first person photo perspective. Here’s the set that was published to the Project Glass Google+ page:

Also shown was a video of someone using Glass while jumping on a trampoline:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=

To top off the I/O presentation, Google produced a short video (again going with emotional, as they always do), showing a mother using Google Glass to share videos and photos of her newborn:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=

Google Glass Explorer Edition Pre-order

Sergey Brin got back on stage after the Glass team to announce the very first public offering of Google Glass. Brin invited US-based I/O attendees the opportunity to pre-order ‘Google Glass Explorer Edition’. Brin stressed that this is ‘bleeding edge’ early-adopter status and that this is not yet a consumer device. The price for the initial pre-orders is $1500. Yes, that’s a lot, but you can expect that the final product will be much more affordable. Brin said that pre-orders would arrive “early next year”.

There’s no official word on how many pre-orders were placed. There were around 6000 people in attendence at Google I/O and pre-orders were open to US-based atendees only which probably cuts that number down to 4500. My best guess for how many pre-orders were placed is around 2000.

Robert Scoble was at I/O 2012 and pre-ordered the 107th unit. Those who put in for pre-orders received a piece of glass indicating which number they ordered, here’s Scoble’s:

Robert Scoble holds his glass pre-order as he wonders what sort of technology will define his son’s future

So far we’ve seen very little about the HUD/interface for Glass. The arrival of pre-orders might be the first time we get a good look if Google hasn’t revealed more info by that time.

I’m tracking Glass closely, stay tuned for more as it happens!

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