Google opens up Glass to the US masses for $1,500 a pair

Filed Under: Featured, Google, Privacy

Teddy. Image courtesy of Hattanas Kumchai / Shutterstock.com.Feeling head-naked? Unconnected? Bereft of at-your-eyeball search functionality and the ability to record surroundings and innocent bystanders?

Fret no more!

Google's now prepared to gadgetize the domes of those US persons who haven't yet signed up to "Explore" the world with Glass and thereby potentially really, really annoy the privacy-conscious.

The purveyor of the creepy streaming-video spectacles announced on Tuesday that anybody whose pockets are being burned with a surplus $1,500 can now get the head huggers.

In the new open beta, Google's still improving its hardware and software, it said, but starting on Tuesday, anyone in the US can buy the Glass Explorer Edition, "as long as we have it on hand".

Props to Ars Technica for the question to which this logically points:

Is this a clearance sale?

If it is a clearance sale, Google needs to learn a bit about discounts.

At any rate, now-infamous Explorers have already brought back experiences that one would desperately hope Google takes to heart.

The two most notorious:

1. Nick Starr, who went into a Seattle eatery wearing Google Glass and was promptly told where to stick his spectacles.

The local 24-hour diner, much to its credit, insisted that he take off the internet-enabled device for the sake of its patrons and, well, because it was perfectly in its rights to do so, given that it's not a public place.

Starr didn't take it well.

Starr, in fact, went on a Facebook rant to urge that the staff member who told him where to go should be sacked, thus making himself a poster boy for the term Glasshole - one who likely served no small role in prompting Google to publish its guide on how to not be one.

2. Sarah Slocum, a social media consultant who claimed she was attacked in a San Francisco bar by people enraged by her face contraption, which they snatched off her.

She claimed not to have been filming anybody, but oddly enough, she captured footage of the Glass grab.

In fact, video captured from her Glass shows that, before they were ripped from her face, people were shielding themselves from being videotaped.

What is Google going to learn from those Explorer experiences? What should it learn?

I like one reader's suggestion to improve Glass: a very visible cover that makes it easy to tell if someone is not taking pictures.

And here's where Google's debunking machinery grinds into gear.

The company would have us believe that there's a myth that says Glass is always on and recording everything.

But like I said when rebunking Google's Glass myth debunking, it doesn't matter whether it's on for its max of 10 seconds, or heck, even 1 second.

That's plenty of time for creeps to take images and video without subjects' permission. Besides, researchers have shown that the green recording light can be tinkered with and turned off, so it really isn't particularly easy to be 100% sure your image isn't being Glassed.

Or here's another idea from that same reader: how about a camera-free version of Glass? It's certainly conceivable that there are people who would benefit from internet connectivity in a hands-free device but don't need the image-grabbing aspect.

There you go Google - two freebie ideas for you!

Image of Teddy courtesy of
Hattanas Kumchai / Shutterstock.com.

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8 Responses to Google opens up Glass to the US masses for $1,500 a pair

  1. As a deaf person, I am looking forward to being able to SEE what people are saying, and look them in the eye at the same time. But for that I do not need the offending video camera, so will have to wear a sign round my neck that my Google Glass is the blind variety ! But along with the billion other deaf people in the world, speech recognition glasses could be the answer to Google's prayer. At last that is a genuine - non geeky - use for the things !

  2. This is the wrong time for devices like this. Everyone is sick and tired of being monitored, recorded, spied upon, NSA, etc. This product is going to fail because of the camera.

    • Peter · 168 days ago

      so you are telling me cameras also failed? and social media also failed?

  3. Samee · 168 days ago

    I TOTALLY agree with the reader's suggestion with a "glass" that does not have the camera! I would feel much safer.

  4. TonyG · 168 days ago

    Google Glass is a good example of why your shouldn't do things just because you can.

    And yet it holds tantalising new applications. I am short sighted - hence need glasses to see anything more than six inches away. However, as I get older, the eye gets less flexible and so reading is a different prescription. Thus I have variofocals. The problem with these are that the greater the difference between distance and reading, the smaller the area that is in focus for either of them.

    Technically I could have just a distance prescription and Google Glass could overall the reading for me.

    So there are lots of potentially good uses. However, the whole technology is being set back by a few people who want their 15 minutes of fame without thinking through the consequences.

    Maybe Google should only sell them to people who are prepared to use them responsibly. As with many thinks, its not the technology that's the problem - it's the misuse of the technology.

    Looking at Google Street View, it is clear that there is a system that obscures car licence plates. So maybe Google Glass should automatically obscure faces unless they are faces preprogrammed into your "friends" list.

  5. Laurence Marks · 168 days ago

    Lisa wrote "...people were shielding themselves from being videotaped."

    Videotaped? Really? Where's the cassette? Maybe you meant to write "people were shielding themselves from being recorded."

    • Paul Ducklin · 168 days ago

      Where's the videotape? Same place as the dial on your phone :-)

  6. I think people are overreacting. With any new technology you are going to have people that are going to abuse it. Think of this way though, who is going to commit a crime in broad daylight if everyone is wearing google glass? We could see an overall reduction in crime-rate because any spectator could easily record you and before you even have a chance to silence them that video surveillance may have been uploaded onto the internet!!! The potential for this technology is simply amazing and I hope some people that are going to misuse it don't get in the way of it's potential. Sure you got creeps, stalkers, and other crazy people who may use them for bad intentions but we had them before and it's not like you can't buy hidden camera's. You absolutely can and the creeps absolutely are recording people with hidden camera's anyway. I think people need to stop attacking google for this as this invention could easily change the world for the better.

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About the author

I've been writing about technology, careers, science and health since 1995. I rose to the lofty heights of Executive Editor for eWEEK, popped out with the 2008 crash, joined the freelancer economy, and am still writing for my beloved peeps at places like Sophos's Naked Security, CIO Mag, ComputerWorld, PC Mag, IT Expert Voice, Software Quality Connection, Time, and the US and British editions of HP's Input/Output. I respond to cash and spicy sites, so don't be shy.