5 New Things to Know About Google Glass

Google is pulling back the curtain a bit more on Google Glass, the high-tech spectacles with an eye-mounted display for accessing the Internet.

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Google is pulling back the curtain a bit more on Google Glass, the high-tech spectacles with an eye-mounted display for accessing the Internet.

We already know about the main features of Google Glass. It can take pictures and video, search the web, access Google Now, conduct a video chat, translate speech, give directions and send messages. Third-party apps will extend Glass’ usefulness.

Now, we’re getting a more complete picture. With the first “Explorer” units shipping to early adopters in May, Google has announced tech specs and developer guidelines, and has answered some frequently asked questions about Glass on its website. Here are several new revelations about Google’s wearable tech:

The (Tech) Specs Are Okay

On the inside, Google Glass is kind of like a mid-range smartphone. We don’t know what processor it’s packing, but it has a 5-megapixel camera, 720p video capture and 16 GB of storage (of which 12 GB is usable). Battery life is billed as a “full day of typical use,” or less if you record video or conduct a video chat. The display is “the equivalent of a 25 inch high definition screen from eight feet away”–but mounted on a frame near the user’s right eye.

The most interesting hardware feature in Glass is its bone conduction transducer, which generates sound by vibrating the bones near the ear. It’s a better choice than earbuds for letting users hear what’s going on around them.

Play Nice, Says Google

There’s been a lot of discussion, and a lot of worries, about the privacy implications of a wearable camera that can surreptitiously take photos and video. In fact, some places have already said they won’t let you wear Glass, including a bar, casinos and strip clubs.

Google is now urging users to be responsible. “[Y]ou may be in certain places like a doctor’s office where those around you don’t feel comfortable being photographed or captured on video,” Google’s FAQ says. “Always consider your surroundings – just like you would with a cell phone. Above all, be considerate.”

CYA: Don’t Glass and Drive

While a bill in West Virginia aims to specifically ban Google Glass while driving, Google’s covering itself with a general disclaimer, noting that most states limit the use of mobile devices while operating an automobile. “Read up and follow the law! Above all, even when you’re following the law, don’t hurt yourself or others by failing to pay attention to the road,” Google’s FAQ says.

It Won’t Put Ads In Your Face — For Now

Google is working hard to get app developers on board with Glass, but at the moment they won’t be allowed to make money from users. As The Verge reports, the first Glass apps can’t have ads, and won’t cost anything to download. Google says this could change in the future, but the company probably wants to tread carefully on the advertising front, lest Glass become known as a way to beam marketing messages into your brain.

Interesting Glass Apps Are Coming, Eventually

Although developers can’t yet charge for their apps, some big-name venture capitalists plan to pump money into the ecosystem by investing in apps they want to see, All Things D reports. For instance, Marc Andreessen is interested in a live zombie game and paramedic applications, and Bill Maris wants to see texting apps for paralyzed users and tools for scientists in wet labs.

Google is aiming to release Glass for the general public by the end of the year. The company hasn’t announced a price, but has said the final product will cost less than the $1,500 Explorer edition that ships next month.