Google Glass Looks to Barge into the Consumer Electronics Market


Alex Albarran-Ayala

A large building atop a mysterious barge was recently spotted floating in the bay off of San Francisco’s Treasure Island. At the moment, two popular rumors circulating the media suggest that it is either a floating data center or a retail store for Google’s futuristic Google Glass.

Chris Ziegler of The Verge reports that CNET has supported the floating data center hypothesis, while the local San Francisco TV station, KPIX, has stated that the barge is likely a “‘floating marketing center’ for promoting Google Glass.”

According to Ronnie Cohen and Alexei Oreskovic from Reutersmuch of the discussion is still speculation. U.S officials have reportedly signed confidentiality agreements, and Google has not confirmed the status of the barge as of press time.

This is all quite interesting, but some might still be left with an important question: what is Google Glass?

Google Glass is a wearable mini-computer in the form of smart glasses, which are designed to give the user a sense of augmented reality.

Nick Bolton of the New York Times wrote on April 4, 2012, that Google had begun testing Glass. One day later, Glass made its public debut during Dining in the Dark, an event hosted by the Foundation Fighting Blindness.

Erick Mark from CNET wrote that during the Google I/O conference of June 2012, Google I/O developers were told that they could start ordering Google Glass and expect them to receive early 2013. This became known as The Glass Explorer Program, and the price of admission was set at $1,500. Later, on Feb. 20, 2013, Google began accepting applications from the general public for the Explorer Program, according to Claire Cain Miller of the New York Times. Only a few were selected to receive the Explorer edition and test the product, and according to Google, this program has around 10,000 testers throughout the U.S.

In late 2011, Glass reportedly weighed around 8 pounds. Now, Google has made the glasses smaller and slimmer, and the device reportedly now weighs roughly as much a pair of sunglasses.

Currently, Google has released a limited list of Glass’ specifications. The Heads-Up Display is “the equivalent of a 25 inch high definition screen from eight feet away.” There is also a built-in camera with the capability to record 720p videos and take photos of up to 5 megapixels. It has Bluetooth and Wi-Fi capabilities, 12 GB of usable memory, and the battery can last for up to one day of typical use.

Glass works through voice commands, finger swipes and taps, or the press of a button. Users can search the web, receive traffic updates, take photos and videos, send messages, make phone calls, or check Gmail entirely hands-free. However, users still have the option to take photos or record videos by pressing or holding a button on the top of the frame. Finally, the finger swipes will allow the user to zoom, scroll, or click by swiping or taping their finger on the touchpad located on the outer side of the frame.

This is just a small sampling of the functions that will be included with Google Glass. More are expected to arrive as Google begins accepting developers into their new system and extends their “Glassware” application market. Currently, Google has nine Glassware partners: Path, Evernote, CNN, New York Times, Twitter, Facebook, Elle, Field Trip, and Tumblr.

In a Google+ post this month, Google informed testers, “Over the next few weeks, all Explorers will have the opportunity to invite three friends to join the program.” However, all testers are still required to pay the $1500 entry fee.

Though the testing program is still in progress, Google predicts that a consumer version will be available in 2014.