Interview with Google’s Project Glass Lead Members

Source: Wired, Jun 2012
(technical specifications included)

Wired: Where are you now with Glass as compared to what Google will eventually release?

Babak Parviz: Project Glass is something that Steve and I have worked on together for a bit more than two years now. It has gone through lots of prototypes and fortunately we’ve arrived at something that sort of works right now. It still is a prototype, but we can do more experimentation with it. We’re excited about this. This could be a radically new technology that really enables people to do things that otherwise they couldn’t do. There are two broad areas that we’re looking at. One is to enable people to communicate with images in new ways, and in a better way. The second is very rapid access to information.

arviz: Right now it doesn’t have a cell radio, it has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. If you’re outdoors or on the go, at least for the immediate future, if you would like to have data connection, you would need a phone.

Steve Lee: Eventually it’ll be a stand-alone product in its own right.

Wired: What are the other current basics?

Parviz: We have a pretty powerful processor and a lot of memory in the device. There’s quite a bit of storage on board, so you can store images and video on board, or you can just live stream it out. We have a see-through display, so it shows images and video if you like, and it’s all self-contained. It has a camera that can collect photographs or video. It has a touchpad so it can interact with the system, and it has gyroscope, accelerometers, and compasses for making the system aware in terms of location and direction. It has microphones for collecting sound, it has a small speaker for getting sound back to the person who’s wearing it, and it has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. And GPS.

Wired: How do people issue commands to the system — like when to begin a video stream?

Parviz: On the side of the device there’s a two-dimensional touchpad. We have a button that we typically use for taking pictures. There are microphones in the system, so I you could have sound input to the system. We’ve experimented with that and we’ve experimented with gyroscopes and accelerometers and compasses with different types of gesture input. Now, how this is going turn into a consumer product, we’re still experimenting. It’s not entirely finalized yet.

Lee: We really do view this through the lens of how to improve people’s lives in society, and not how can we geek out with the most technology possible. But it’s definitely true that something like this could go either way. A poor design could absolutely distract you and isolate you as a person. Good design actually keeps you more engaged in your activities in life whether it’s a lunch with someone or riding your bike or whatever activity you do.

Parviz: We want people to be engaged with the physical world. We want to untether them from the desktops and laptops. You want to have something where don’t feel like you’re wearing technology. Where your eyes are pretty much open to the environment, your ears are open, your hands are free — but you can engage with the technology if you need to.

Wired: Let’s talk about the launch process– why the two stages?

Parviz: We’re hoping actually to create a developer community to help us evolve this technology together. In 2013, we’ll ship the developer version, to this community, and hopefully, in less than a year following that, we’ll have the consumer version out to the public. That’s our hope at the moment. We’re trying really hard to get this out the door.

Wired: Why did you pick that $1,500 price point for developers?

Parviz: We try to have a reasonable cost that would be accessible to developers, but our target is to have the consumer version significantly cheaper than that.

Lee: But at the same time, we view this as a premium product.

Wired: So consumers won’t be paying $1,500, but it’s not like buying a pair of sunglasses.

Lee: It’s not going be $49.99. It’s up to us to deliver the value of a premium product and also communicate that to people.

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