Google took to the skies today — literally — to announce the first widely-available model of the highly rumored and anticipated Project Glass headset, a wearable computing platform that incorporates first-person video capture and a head-mounted display.
Co-founder Sergey Brin took the stage during the company’s annual Google I/O developer conference to facilitate a highly unorthodox demonstration.
“You’ve seen demos that were slick and robust,” Brin said. “This will be nothing like that. This could go wrong in about 500 different ways.”
And though what happened next had clearly been planned meticulously, it was easy to imagine any number of things going foul. A large projector screen cut to a Google Hangout of four stuntpeople, wearing wingsuits and Glass headsets, and suspended in a blimp over San Franscisco.
After a few minutes of banter with the parachutists, whose Glass feeds were shared with conference attendees down on the ground, the team jumped out of the blimp, their fall captured by the wearable headsets. After swooping dramatically in the wingsuits, they deployed parachutes and landed on the roof of the Moscone Center, where the conference was taking place.
After touching down, a squad of BMX bicyclists — also equipped with Glass headsets, to capture the action first-hand — performed stunts before rappelling down the side of the building, re-mounting bikes and making their way through a cheering crowd in the auditorium that had witnessed the epic sequence on a large projector screen.
Google will release the headsets for a limited number of “bleeding edge” Google I/O attendees early next year. The devices will cost about $1500 and will initially be available only to developers in the United States, in compliance with laws regulating frequency use.
Rumors of Project Glass, which is in development at the company’s clandestine Google X laboratory, have emerged slowly this spring, with some experts wondering whether Google would be able to fulfill the high expectations it set with an extremely ambitious concept video showing possible uses for the technology.
More recently, the company has let a number of photographers try out the technology, emphasizing an artistic side to the project, in addition to social and computing applications. From the outside, it seems as though the company is trying to refine the still-broad concept into a more accessible, focused consumer product.
Image: Google, CNET