Google’s Internet-linked eyewear — hotly anticipated by some, feared by others — is now available to anyone in the United States with $1,500 to spare and a yen to become an “explorer.”
The decision to open the “Glass” test, or beta, program on Wednesday to anyone with enough money and curiosity came about a month after a one-day sale of the eyewear to the public.
“We learned a lot when we opened our site a few weeks ago, so we’ve decided to move to a more open beta,” said a post on the Glass page at Google+ online social network.
“We’re still in the Explorer Program while we continue to improve our hardware and software, but starting today anyone in the U.S. can buy the Glass Explorer Edition, as long as we have it on hand.”
In a possible sign of interest in the eyewear, the Glass page on the Google+ network has more than 678,000 followers and has been viewed more than 107 million times.
Google in March said it is joining forces with the frame giant behind Ray-Ban and other high-end brands to create and sell Glass Internet-linked eyewear in the United States.
The partnership with Luxottica was portrayed as Google’s “biggest step yet into the emerging smart eyewear market.”
Luxottica brands include Oakley, Alain Mikli, Ray-Ban and Vogue-Eyewear.
The first smart glasses by Luxottica for Google Glass will go on sale in 2015, the head of the Italian eyewear group said Tuesday.
Google has been working to burnish the image of Glass, which has triggered concerns about privacy since the devices are capable of capturing pictures and video.
Google recently sent out a release to debunk what it claims are myths about Glass such as the ideas that it invades privacy, distracts wearers and is for “technology-worshipping geeks.”
“If someone wants to secretly record you, there are much, much better cameras out there than one you wear conspicuously on your face and that lights up every time you give a voice command, or press a button,” Google said.
“If a company sought to design a secret spy device, they could do a better job than Glass.”
During the Explorer testing phase, developers are creating apps for Google Glass, which can range from getting weather reports to sharing videos to playing games.
Google in February gave the early adopters a bit of advice: don’t be “Glassholes”.
It was the final suggestion in a recommended code of conduct posted online for the software developers and others taking part in the “explorer” program.
The Internet titan appeared intent on avoiding the kinds of caustic run-ins that have seen some Glass wearers tossed from eateries, pubs or other establishments due to concerns over camera capabilities built into devices.
Don’t be “creepy or rude (aka, a “Glasshole”),” Google said in a guide posted online for Explorer program members.
Glass connects to the Internet using Wi-Fi hot spots or, more typically, by being wirelessly tethered to mobile phones. Pictures or video are may be shared through the Google Plus social network.