A lot more people are about to get a chance to buy Google Glass, the Internet-connected eyewear that has become the hottest accessory in geek fashion.
Google Inc will sell the Explorer version of Glass to any US resident who places an online order for the device beginning at 9am in San Francisco on Tuesday. The product will cost US$1,500, the same price that Google has charged since sales of the device began last year, the company said on Thursday.
The Tuesday sale will take place at google.com/glass/start/how-to-get-one and Google is not saying how many sets will be available during the limited-time offer.
It marks the first time that Google has made Glass available to consumers without requiring special access. More than 10,000 sets of Glass have been sold to a select group of developers, contest winners and other invitees.
This version of Glass, though, still is not the polished product that Google hopes to release in stores later this year. Although it has not provided specifics, the search company has indicated that the mass-market version will sell for less than US$1,500.
For now, it is still trying to recruit more people to serve as guinea pigs for its attempt build a wearable device that features some of the same features as a smartphone. The Explorer program has been serving as a test lab.
Glass looks like a pair of spectacles, but the Explorer edition does not contain any actual glass in the frame. Instead, the device has a thumbnail-sized screen attached above the right eye, so a user can check e-mail, see Twitter posts or get directions without having to grope for a phone.
It can also take hands-free photos and video through voice-activated commands. The ability to record images so easily — and perhaps secretly — has raised privacy and piracy concerns, and has prompted some casinos, theaters and bars to prohibit Glass use on their properties.
Safety concerns have also been raised about drivers wearing Glass, prodding some legislators to draw up rules forbidding use of the device in moving vehicles.
Glass is the most prominent example of wearable technology, which is expected to become more widespread over the next few years. There are already several smartwatches on the market, and Google is working with accessory makers to release more later this year. Apple Inc, the maker of the iPhone and iPad, is expected to unveil an “iWatch” later this year.