Canadian Manufacturing

Google to test internet-enabled glasses

The glasses perform many of the same tasks as smartphones, except they respond to voice commands instead of fingers touching a display screen



SAN FRANCISCO—Google has picked 8,000 people in the U.S. who will have a chance to wear the company’s new Internet-connected glasses, which are being described as the next breakthrough in mobile computing.

Google Inc. began notifying contest winners Tuesday.

The winners will have to pay $1,500 apiece if they want a test version of the product, called “Google Glass.” They also will have to travel to New York, Los Angeles or the San Francisco Bay area to pick up the device, which isn’t expected to be available on the mass market until late this year or early next year.

The excitement stems from the belief that Google Glass is at the forefront of a new wave of technology known as “wearable computing.” Google, Apple Inc. and several other companies also are working on Internet-connected wristwatches, according to published reports that have cited anonymous people familiar with the projects.

Google Glass is supposed to perform many of the same tasks as smartphones, except the glasses respond to voice commands instead of fingers touching a display screen. The glasses are equipped with a hidden camera and tiny display screen attached to a rim above the right eye.

The engineers who have been building Google Glass tout the technology as a way to keep people connected to their email, online social networks and other crucial information without having to frequently gaze down at the small screen on a smartphone. The hidden camera is designed to make it easy for people to take hands-free photos or video of whatever they are doing.

Google said the test, or “Explorer,” version of Glass will help its engineers get a better understanding of how the technology might be used and make any necessary adjustments before the device hits the mass market.

The company sold an unspecified number of “Explorer” models to computer programmers last year. The finished product is expected to cost from $700 to $1,500.

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