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Google glasses get their close-up with Google co-founder Sergey Brin

Google glasses get their close-up with Google co-founder Sergey Brin

Google co-founder Sergey Brin wears Project Glass Web-connected glasses at Google's annual developers conference in San Francisco.
Google co-founder Sergey Brin wears Project Glass Web-connected glasses at Google's annual developers conference in San Francisco. (David Paul Morris / Bloomberg / June 27, 2012)
By Jessica Guynn

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    Google co-founder Sergey Brin brought Google X out of the lab and into the world Wednesday.
    As we reported earlier, the tech giant is making a prototype of its futuristic, Web-connected glasses available to U.S. software developers attending its annual conference in San Francisco. Google will begin selling the glasses, called Project Glass, for $1,500 to people attending the three-day conference. The glasses will ship early next year.
    In a press conference for U.S. media, Brin said Google would begin selling the glasses to the general public "less than a year" after that. The concept pushes the bounds of consumer electronics so Google is clearly trying to prepare the public for the 2012 debut.
    The project is part of Google X, Brin’s super-secret lab at Google that already produced the self-driving car. The glasses have been in development for more than two years. They are essentially a wearable computer that allows you to take pictures, get directions or video chat with friends.
    The idea is to let people take advantage of technology – get quick access to information and communicate with the world – without taking them out of the world or out of the moment. The truly hands-free device has a camera to capture life’s fleeting moments, such as a baby’s smile, and lets others see the world through your eyes. The glasses are lightweight and can be comfortably worn for extended periods, Google staffers working on the project said. The glasses last for about six hours of regular use, Brin said.
    "It has been transformative for my lifestyle," Brin said.
    Brin said one of the great moments for him was tossing his son in the air. "Obviously you couldn’t capture that with a camera or I’d drop my son," Brin said. With the glasses, he captured the moment in a video clip. "To me, that was amazing," he said. "No way I would have this memory if it weren’t for this device."
    Google pulled off a hair-raising stunt to demonstrate the power of the glasses by having skydivers jump out of a zeppelin airship over the Moscone Convention Center where the conference is being held. The audience of 6,000 followed along in live video feeds from the glasses as the skydivers landed on the roof.
    Brin said Project X is all about pushing the bounds of technology.
    "That’s our job at Google X, to push the edges of technology to where the future might be," Brin said.
    With innovation come new questions. What is the social etiquette for wearing the glasses? Evolving. Are they safe to use when you are driving? Brin says they are. What are the privacy implications? Google’s still thinking that through, but it's likely that the same policies that apply to its other services will apply to the glasses. Will the glasses be combined with facial recognition? Google has experimented with that, but Brin says it’s not compelling, at least not yet. Will prescription glasses wearers be able to wear the glasses? Google is working with glasses manufacturers. Will there be advertising? No, Brin said: "We plan to sell them."
    The guiding principle, the team says: Keep people in the moment and get technology out of the way.
    Brin let a few dozen writers try on his pair of Google glasses after the press conference. The titanium frames were lightweight and comfortable. They were in "demo mode" and just showed a video of fireworks. The image, which was above my right eye and above my normal line of sight, was quite small. As I moved my head, the video panned. If I cupped my right ear as Brin directed, the sound of the fireworks was amplified.
    It wasn’t a true demo of the glasses. Brin clearly did not want the media to see his text messages or email. But had it been activated, I would have heard an alert when a high-priority email arrived in his inbox. I would then tilt my head up to see the message display.
    Google Chief Executive Larry Page was a no-show at the conference. Brin reiterated that Page had lost his voice a couple of weeks ago.
    "We didn’t want to stress him out by having him talk a whole lot," Brin said. "He just had an issue with his voice. I am not worried about him."
    Asked about the nature of Page's medical condition, Brin replied: "I am not a doctor."
Copyright © 2012, Los Angeles Times

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