Google's digital glasses move out of lab and closer to reality

SAN FRANCISCO Thu Jun 28, 2012 7:04am IST

Sergey Brin, CEO and co-founder of Google, wears a Google Glass during a product demonstration during Google I/O 2012 at Moscone Center in San Francisco, California June 27, 2012. REUTERS/Stephen Lam

Sergey Brin, CEO and co-founder of Google, wears a Google Glass during a product demonstration during Google I/O 2012 at Moscone Center in San Francisco, California June 27, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Stephen Lam

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SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Google Inc expects to roll out a consumer version of its electronic eyewear that can live-stream images and audio and perform computing tasks in less than two years, though it stopped short of putting a price tag on the "smart" glasses.

Google Glass, as the technology is known, will be sold to consumers at a price "significantly" lower than the $1,500 that the company is selling it to U.S.-based software developers from early next year, Google co-founder Sergey Brin said.

Brin showed off the glasses at Google's annual developer conference in San Francisco on Wednesday, providing the most in-depth public look at the futuristic technology since Google first announced the project in April.

Google also unveiled its first tablet which it will start selling from mid-July for $199, hoping to replicate its smartphone success in a hotly contested market now dominated by Amazon.com Inc's Kindle Fire and Apple Inc's iPad.

Google Glass is a stamp-sized electronic screen mounted on the left side of a pair of eyeglass frames which can record video, access email and messages, and retrieve information from the Web.

In a high-octane demonstration of the technology, several skydivers wearing the glasses jumped out of an airship and landed on the roof of San Francisco's Moscone Center, sharing a live video of the stunt with the crowd.

Reporters at a briefing after the conference lined up to try on Brin's personal pair of glasses, where they were able to watch a video of fireworks displayed on the small screen. The perspective in the video shifted as wearers moved their heads to look up, down or sideways.

The glasses, which weigh less than some sunglasses, contain a wireless networking chip and essentially all the other technology found inside a typical smartphone - save for a cellular network radio - Google executives said.

The battery is smaller than a smartphone battery, but Google is working on ways to make the battery charge last for a full day.

Brin said he expects the glasses to be available to consumers less than a year after the developer version is available.

Google is still experimenting with various aspects of the glasses, including potentially providing directions on the screen and the ability to have the glasses speak out text messages, Brin said.

He said, in response to a question, that there are no plans to offer any kind of advertising on the device.

(Reporting By Alexei Oreskovic; Editing by Ryan Woo)