Brin says Google glasses will be on market this year
Co-founder claims eyewear will rid wearers of unsocial smartphone habits
Sergey Brin envisions Google's internet glasses hitting the market this year with an eye toward freeing people from unsocial habits engendered by "emasculating" smartphones.
Brin spoke of the inspiration behind Google Glass eyewear, which links users to the internet via a tiny display mounted on spectacles, during a brief appearance on stage at a TED Conference known for an inspiring mix of influential big thinkers and "ideas worth spreading".
He playfully demonstrated his point by ignoring a theatre audience to stare down at his smartphone, saying he was intent on a message from a Nigerian prince in need of US$10 million dollars.
"I like to pay attention because that is how we originally funded the company," the Google co-founder quipped about a well-known scam.
"Seriously, in addition to potentially socially isolating yourself when you are out and about using your phone, I feel it is kind of emasculating."
Brin described Glass as the first form factor to deliver on a vision he had had from Google's inception that one day search queries would be outmoded and information from the internet would come to people when they needed it.
Glass frees the eyes as well as the hands when it comes to connecting to the internet on the go, according to Brin.
"That is why we put the display up high, out of the line of sight," Brin said, wearing the Glass eyewear he is rarely seen without.
"If I wore a ball cap, the display would be on the brim and not where you are looking," he continued. "And sound goes through bones in the cranium, which is a little freaky at first, but you get used to it."
Glass wearers can speak commands to the eyewear, and built-in camera technology allows pictures or video to be captured from first-person perspectives while people take part in what is happening.
"Lastly, I realised I also have a nervous tic," Brin said. "The cell phone is a nervous habit. If I smoked, I'd probably smoke instead."
He observed that smartphones sometimes become props used by people as distractions or to appear busy, saying that Glass stripped away excuses not to be sociable or to not be honest about simply wanting to take a break.
"It really opened my eyes to how much of my life I spent secluded away in e-mail, social posts or what-not," Brin said. "There is nothing bad about that, but with this thing I don't have to be checking them all the time."
Brin said Glass eyewear would be available later this year at prices lower than the US$1,500 charged to software developers and early adopters during a restricted test phase.
Google has been speaking with eyeglass frame companies about ideas for a consumer version of the glasses, which he expected would cost "significantly" less than the Explorer prototypes.