Google Glass to get Windex treatment at I/O
Google Glass will get an image makeover this week at I/O.
Did you hear the one about the Google Glasshole that walks into a bar? I don't have a punch line here, but you've heard the jokes. On Wednesday expect Google co-founder Sergey Brin to use the Google I/O's keynote as a venue to put some much needed shine back onto his Internet-connected eyewear Google Glass. But this year expect Brin's fist pumping to be far more subdued compared to his 2012 I/O keynote with Glass-toting stuntmen parachuting onto the Moscone Center roof.
Image Credit: Andreas Heanny
All eyes will be on Google and Brin to respond to criticism that Glass is an out-of-touch "Segway for your face," but also to tell the world what's next for Google Glass. Here’s a quick rundown of speculation of what is likely from Google's Glass team at I/O this week.
Not a Glass-Centric I/O Conference
The tech world has collectively rolled its eyes in response to Google's in-our-face Glass marketing and the hyperventilating by early adopters. Expect less pomp and circumstance and less Glass period this week. Google has only dedicated four Developer Sessions for Glass compared to 15 for Google Maps and 48 sessions for Chrome and Apps.
Google Glass Pricing and Availability
The odds are slim we'll hear any firm release dates for consumer availability of Google Glass. Google will likely reiterate what chairman Eric Schmidt said in April to the BBC that a final consumer release will be in 2014. Google initially promised availability in 2013.
Pricing was $1500 for the developers Explorer Edition. Google has promised a consumer version of Glass will be significantly less. Tech journalists/odds makers are pegging the price at $200 to $600 with low cost and high volume manufacturing at a California-based Foxconn factory.
Google will Respond to Privacy Concerns
Google will answer to accusations that Glass will be a "stalker's dream" come true. After a developer Mike DiGiovanni boasted about his Google Glass app called Winky, which lets you snap a picture by winking (instead of having to use voice or gesture commands), critics such as journalist Rebecca Greenfield of The Atlantic called "privacy nightmare."
Watch for Google to introduce developer best practices and tout safeguards to prevent Glass like a possible LED indicator light that goes on when snapping a picture or taking video.
Google will Respond to Safety Concerns
You can also expect Brin to address in-car safety concerns brought up by the likes of West Virginia legislators who are already trying to ban Google Glass while driving. You can bet money Brin broaches the topic with the same deft as a talk-a-lot and say nothing politician. Brin will denounce the use of Glass in any potential dangerous scenario - driving and alike. He might also ask developers to work on a feature that would turn off Glass in certain circumstances.
But don't expect Brin to throw water on developers who have just begun to dream of Glass apps. Google told The New York Times: “The goal of the program is to ensure that our users become active participants in shaping the future of this technology and for developers specifically to hack together new features, find exploits and build amazing new apps ahead of a wider consumer launch.”
Google to Tout Partnerships
Expect hardware and app partnerships to be central to Google's Glass bragging. Reports that Google is negotiating with hip eyewear maker Warby Parker to make a less nerdy, more chic version of Glass will likely become official. There may even be more Glass frame options for everyone from graying wannabe hipsters dudes to something more fashionable for women.
Google to Bring on the Real Apps (not the fake ones)
After a year of seeing really cool mock videos of possible Glass apps, on Wednesday we'll see the real deal. Google has updated Glass with a bevy of apps including Google+ integration. But without third-party app developers Glass will struggle to succeed.
There is a good chance Glass Everynote, Path, and Twitter apps will be shown. I would expect more especially that cater to health care, education and big data companies. I'd love see a facial recognition app that MedRef is designing for hospital employees. The app would help nurses and doctors remember our names and look up patient records in the blink of an eye.
I have a hunch also that real demos of apps in development will be a little less sexy than the ones dreamed up in the slickly produced demo videos we've been bombarded with for the past year. That may be a good thing. A little less hype and little more reality about Glass might do Google and the rest of us some good.