Google Glass: are they really worth £1,000?

Despite the eye-watering cost, Google has been anxious to point out that the technology is still in its prototype phase. So what should early adopters expect from the “geeky goggles”?

What is Google Glass?

Google describes the device as a “wearable computing device designed to make it easier to bring people the technology they need without distracting them from the world around them”.

Effectively, Glass is “a cross between a smartphone and a pair of glasses”, The Times says, with a transparent heads-up display projected onto a piece of silicone that lets users see information by looking up and slightly to the right. The device also has a speaker that can play audio softly into a user’s ear.

Like a smartphone, Glass runs third-party apps that can be accessed through a touchpad on the device’s right arm. They can also be controlled with voice commands which are triggered by the phrase “Ok Glass”.

What kinds of things can it do?

Currently Glass can show maps, display emails and text messages, take photos and videos and provide search results, news reports and weather updates. Like smartphones, the functions of Glass will expand as software developers build new applications to run on it.

Is using Glass distracting?

Despite Google’s claims of unobtrusiveness, the UK’s Department of Transport pre-emptively banned drivers from wearing Glass last year, Wired reports. “It is important that drivers give their full attention to the road when they are behind the wheel and do not behave in a way that stops them from observing what is happening on the road,” a spokesman for the department said at the time. A number of American states, including Illinois and New Jersey, have also moved to ban drivers from using Google Glass while on the road.

Reasons to give Glass a try

Google co-founder Sergey Brin has called Glass a way to “free your eyes”, and described smartphones as “emasculating”, The Guardian reports. The company created a video showing the kinds of things users might be able to do with the device.

Since it went on sale in the US, the device has been subject to a broad range of privacy objections, ridicule and theft.

The company is fighting to combat the “glasshole” tag that follows users of the product. In February, the company released an etiquette guide for people with the new headwear, including tips such as “don’t be creepy” by taking photos of people without their permission, and don’t “glass-out” by spending long periods staring into space.

The smartglasses are also still in “beta” – or prototype – form, and the company warns that early adopters should not expect the product to be completely polished.

“We want it to get it better and better before it goes to a wider audience,” said Ivy Ross, head of Google Glass.

While some people within the industry may be excited by the UK launch of Glass, Stuart Miles, founder of technology website Pocket-lint, told the Daily Mail that he believes the average consumer “still requires some convincing that Glass is the future of tech”.