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How Google Glass Works


The Birth of Google Glass
Google X team members Mac Smith and Mitch Heinrich -- who both helped develop Project Glass -- present another concept, Project Loon, at the Googleplex in Mountain View, California.
Google X team members Mac Smith and Mitch Heinrich -- who both helped develop Project Glass -- present another concept, Project Loon, at the Googleplex in Mountain View, California.
Talia Herman/Corbis

One of Google's many divisions is called Google X. Descriptions from visitors make it sound like it's equal parts computer lab and mad scientist's lair [source: Miller and Bilton]. Projects at Google X tackle big problems in engineering. Everything from networked homes to space elevators gets a shot within the lab. One of the many projects the division worked on is Project Glass.

Back in April 2012, a Project Glass account appeared on Google's social networking platform Google Plus. The account's first post revealed the purpose of the project -- to build a wearable computer that helps you "explore and share your world" [source: Google Glass]. The post included a concept video of what the project -- a pair of glasses -- might be able to do in the future.

In other posts and articles, Google released more details about the glasses. Some versions had no lenses. What all versions did have was a thick area of the frame over the right eye. This is where Google put the screen for the glasses. To look at the screen, you have to glance up with your eyes. The placement was important -- putting the screen in your direct line of vision could result in some serious safety problems.

It wasn't long after Google released the concept video that people got a chance to see a pair of the glasses in real life. Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page wore the high-tech specs to events in late spring of 2012. And at the Google I/O event on June 27, 2012, Google gave attendees a thrilling demonstration of the technology.

The Google I/O took place inside the Moscone Center in San Francisco, but the first part of the demonstration was outside the building. To be more specific, it was a few thousand feet above the building. Google had outfitted a skydiving team riding in a blimp with Google Glass, and had set up a Hangout -- a video chat on the Google Plus platform -- with the team. Footage from the Glass cameras caught all the action. The team jumped from the blimp and maneuvered so that they landed on the roof of the Moscone Center.

The demonstration didn't end there. Expert bicyclists, also wearing Glass, did tricks on top of the Moscone Center's roof until they reached the edge of the building. Then, a man wearing Glass rappelled down the side of the building and handed off a package to another biker. That biker weaved through the conference center to get to the stage and hand the package off to Sergey Brin.

The audience watched the whole thing happen on a giant screen as footage from the various glasses played out in front of them [source: Google Developers]. Afterward, members from the Google X team in charge of the project talked about the philosophy behind the eyewear. Brin then returned to the stage to announce that Google planned to ship a developer pair of the glasses called the Explorer Edition in early 2013 for $1,500. That's still the cost of the Explorer glasses, but it may not be the final price for Google Glass once it hits the general consumer market.


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