Google glass formally introduced in April 2012
Google Glass is a wearable Android-powered computer built into spectacle frames so that you can perch a display in your field of vision, film, take pictures, search and translate on the go as well as run specially-designed apps.
Google Glass uses a miniature display to put data in front (or at least, to the upper right) of your vision courtesy of a prism screen. This is designed to be easily seen without obstructing your view.
Glass responds to voice commands as well as taps and gestures on the touch-sensitive bar that runs along the side of the frame. You can start a search with "Ok Glass.." and take a photo or launch an app with a command phrase or a tap of your finger. Glass can also be paired with a phone using the My Glass app to allow quick fiddling with settings and customisation.
Google Glass runs a version of Android, so developers can easily create apps that take advantage of its unique display and input methods. Developers using Google's Mirror API, which makes it possible for apps to speak directly with a Glass headset, are forbidden from charging for their software or embedding ads in the Glass display. Google has indicated that this policy may change however.
You'll be able to use Google Maps to get directions although as there is no built in GPS receiver you'll need to tether Glass to your smartphone. Several third party developers have announced apps for services including Evernote, Skitch and Path.
The New York Times has also demoed an app that will pop up news headlines on request and JetBlue has suggested that it could create an app to show how much time was left before you had to board your flight. One developer even created an app (since removed by Google) to allow surreptitious taking of photos simply by blinking when you have something good in your sights.
Google has snapped up voice specialists DNNresearch whose voice recognition tech could give Glass the ability to translate words being spoken to you into your own language on the display. Obviously you'll need a WiFi connection or a hefty data plan if you're in another country, but it's certainly a neat trick if it works.
Google Glass design
Glass is designed to be lightweight and as unobtrusive as possible. The frame will come with adjustable pads for comfort, and is expected to be both light and extremely robust. It will also have a touchpad along one arm for silent interaction.
If you already wear glasses, don't worry. Google is trialing several different designs that will enable Glass to be attached to existing frames. There is also the possibility of designer prescription glasses with Glass functionality built in. This patent might give us a glimpse of a future, more natural looking version of Glass.
Google Glass specifications
Current versions of Glass offer a 640 x 360 display. According to Google the display is "the equivalent of a 25-inch high definition screen from eight feet away." There is a 5 megapixel camera built-in to the frame that can also capture video at 720p resolution.
The rechargeable battery last for roughly a day, although that's with the standard "typical use" caveat, which probably excludes a lot of video capture or playback.
There's 16GB of flash memory built into the device, although only 12GB is currently available for user storage. The device will sync to your Google Drive, giving you both a place to stash your photos and video clips as well as a stash of documents and files you can call up from the cloud.
Bluetooth and WiFi will be built in, but there is no GPS chip - so the Glass will probably work best alongside an Android phone for full Google Maps functionality. You can however pair with any Bluetooth enabled phone and we would expect some support for iOS at least.
Sound will be produced through bone conduction transfer - vibrating your skull to transmit to your eardrum. Google recently revealed a new version of the Glass headset that can take an optional mono earbud if you need to wear Glass in a noisy environment where bone conduction just can't give the volume you require.
Tech Radar was able to spend some time with the Google Glass Explorer edition and give our verdict on this early model.