Key navigation, messaging, and call handling functions remain non-working

When rumors began to fly back in late 2011 about a Google Inc. (GOOGwearable computer, skepticism was strong.  Then in mid-February of this year, more details trickled out on Oakley-esque Google glasses.  At that point it seemed clear Google was working on something, but whether the consumer would ever see it was a compelling question. After all there's been plenty of unrealized, much-hyped product prototypes, such as the infamous Apple, Inc. (AAPLLCD TV.  

I. Glass Explorer Prototype is Far From Finished

But Google differentiated its prototype from the vaporware crowd, surprising developers with Glass Explorer -- beta hardware of the glasses -- priced at $1,500.  (Ironically the Glass Explorer has now glass -- where the lens typical is, is mostly empty space, with the image being projected into the user's eye.

Now The Wall Street Journal has taken the pioneering product for a spin, and offered up some scarce details on the product, which still at least several months away from shipping to developers.

Spencer E. Ante of The WSJ reports that the product is missing many key features, writing:

When I asked to use the navigation feature that would show me maps of places I want to go, Mr. Brin said it is prototyped but not in the version he showed me. The calling and messaging capability that would allow me to phone someone one or see and respond to a text message also wasn't functional.
Google Glass
[Image Source: YouTube]

The author was also less than enthused about the $1,500 price point -- a bit high even for the developer crowd.  He also says that the glasses in their current form are missing a "killer app" and are "great", but not "ambitious enough".

II. Wearing Your Computer

But he praised the sleek, chic design of the glasses.  And he writes that what functionality that was working -- the voice activated (or auto-set) camera and video -- were exciting, making the glasses a bit "like a wearable smartphone".    He writes, "I could see their long-term potential."

That's what Google co-founder and tech pioneer Sergey Brin is hoping.

He remarks in the interview, "I never think about taking out my phone [when I'm wearing my glasses].  That would really be disruptive to my playtime [with my children].  I have always disliked the feeling that with technology I am spending a lot of my time and attention managing it.  The notion of seamlessly having access to your digital world without disrupting the real world is very important."

Sergey Brin Glass Explorer
Sergey Brin, wearing a Glass Explorer prototype [Image Source: Thomas Hawk/Flickr]

He adds, "We definitely like to make things open but right now we are working hard and fast to make something reliable we can get in the hands of users and developers.  I expect lots and lots of people will be using technology like this in years to come."

So amidst would-be competitors like Valve Corp. fielding wearable augmented reality "goggles" of their own, Google's product remains ambitious and a bit ahead of the pack -- although also most definitely incomplete.

Source: WSJ

"This week I got an iPhone. This weekend I got four chargers so I can keep it charged everywhere I go and a land line so I can actually make phone calls." -- Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg

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