Google Glasses

Source: FastCompany, May 2012

STEVE LEE: I can’t speak to specific product release timelines, because quite frankly, we don’t really know [when it will be ready]. But I can say that we definitely didn’t put out that video with the intention of it being some futuristic video that’s many, many years away. In terms of what’s running on the device right now, several of those things that you see in the video, we do have prototype versions of those. So Maps is one example: You can see a Map of where you’re at, and search for a nearby restaurant. That certainly exists on the device, and it’s my hope that we’ll be able to deliver on several or many of the other things that are in that video–possibly some other things as well.

An earlier report from The New York Times indicated Glass would go on sale by the year’s end, for between $250 and $600. Is this true?

I don’t know where that information came from. I can just say that that’s pretty aggressive timing. It’s really a challenging project, and even if we have some of the software from the video running on the device, there’s so many other engineering and technical and manufacturing challenges. What was provided in that article didn’t come from our team.

The ultimate goal here is to serve everyone and make this is a universal device. So that means people that wear eyeglasses, or tend to wear sunglasses or contacts, or people who have perfect eyesight. That’s a really hard problem–to accommodate everyone.

Will this technology one day be on contacts?

I mean, that’s definitely a long-term thing. At this point, it seems like a natural evolution. Certainly if you make the technology invisible, a lot of people would say that’s attractive. But maybe instead of that perspective, you could argue that something like this could be thought of like jewelry–something that is bold and prominent. Something a person wearing it is proud of. In that case, you wouldn’t want it to be invisible–you want to show it off, like, Hey! I’m part of the future.

Are there some brainstormed ideas you consider too sci-fi?

We evaluate each idea on a number of dimensions. First is technical feasibility: If it can’t be done in a reasonable time frame, then nothing else really matters. Other dimensions are user acceptance and societal acceptance. This is a challenge because in some ways, since this is a wholly new form factor and device, we want to innovate and bring whole new ways for people to interact with it. So we don’t want to be afraid of introducing new concepts to people.

But at the same time, if we go overboard or make poor decisions, that could have negative consequences in terms of how early users of this could be perceived by other people, and how they feel about using it. It’s a really delicate balance, but it’s certainly another really important factor regarding whether to bring a particular feature or technology to the prototype.

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