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Google Glass mysteries revealed!

Finally: This week a long list of announcements and revelations about Google's cyborg eyewear were made

April 20, 2013 07:00 AM ET

Computerworld - Google co-founder Sergey Brin has been yakking about Google Glass for more than two years. Yet until this week, we didn't know even the most basic facts about the platform.

Google spilled some beans in an earnings call this week. The company also published facts about the hardware, software and licensing. And finally, users started receiving actual units, and have been blabbing about them on social media.

Google glasses project
Google's Project Glass has people wearing augmented reality glasses. (Image: Google)

Here's what we've learned and what it all means.

Who's using Google Glass

First, the lucky winners: Google held a contest calling on people to tell why they wanted Google Glass. Google picked 8,000 people for their Glass Explorer program. The gadgets aren't free: They'll still have to pay $1,500 for the device.

That price is not necessarily the price consumers will pay for the shipping product when it does ship; no retail pricing has been announced.

At Googe's June developer conference last year, called Google I/O, Google offered to sell Glass to any attendee. Approximately 2,000 developers who purchased those units (on Amazon.com) have not received them yet, but are expected to in the coming weeks. Google won't charge those credit cards until the hardware ships.

By the time Google's next I/O conference begins, there should be about 10,000 people outside of Google itself in the possession of Google Glass devices. (Google's next I/O starts May 14. Google is expected to make Glass development a focus of the event.)

Google Glass may cause eyestrain or a headache, according to the Google Glass FAQ. Google says Glass is "not for children," and that "Google's terms of service don't permit those under 13 to register a Google account."

The hardware

Google Glass is a headset worn like glasses that has a projector for beaming images into the wearer's right eye, creating an illusion equivalent to viewing "a 25-inch high definition screen from eight feet away." That beaming of images happens by way of a prism, which bounces the light from the tiny projector into the prism and from there into the eye. The prism is clear, so looking through it shows both the projected image and also the normal field of vision. Users have to look up and to the right a little to see the Google Glass display.

Glass has 16 GB of RAM, 12 GB of which are usable for apps.

Sound is relayed to the user's eardrum not into the ears but via bone conduction through the skull.

Glass has a built-in microphone, which does a good job of picking up the voice of the wearer, but strains to capture sounds farther away. This is probably by design for both the privacy of non-wearers and also to improve the voice recognition of the user.



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