Google Glass is getting glasses.
Google is adding prescription frames and new styles of detachable sunglasses to its computerized, Internet-connected goggles known as Glass.
The move comes as Google Inc. prepares to make Glass available to the general population later this year. Currently, Glass is available only to the tens of thousands of people who are testing and creating apps for it.Glass hasn't actually had glasses in its frame until now.
The gadget itself is not changing with this announcement. Rather, Google plans to make various attachments available. Starting Tuesday, the Mountain View, Calif., company is offering four styles of prescription frames and two new types of shades available to its "explorers" - the people who are trying out Glass. The frames will cost $225 and the shades, $150. That's on top of the $1,500 price of Glass.
Users can take the frames to any vision care provider for prescription lenses, though Google says it is working with insurance provider Vision Service Plan to train eye-care providers around the U.S. on how to work with Glass. Google says some insurance plans may cover the cost of the frames.
Isabelle Olsson, the lead designer for Google Glass, says the new frames open the spectacles up to a larger audience.
She demonstrated the new frames to The Associated Press last week at the Google Glass Basecamp, an airy loft on the eighth floor of New York City's Chelsea Market. It's one of the places where Glass users go to pick up their wares and learn how to use them. Walking in, visitors are greeted, of course, by a receptionist wearing Google Glass.
The latter has been a constant challenge for the nascent wearable technology industry, especially for something like Google Glass, designed to be worn on your face. When Google unveiled Glass in a video nearly two years ago, it drew unfavorable comparisons to Bluetooth headsets, the trademarks of the fashion-ignorant technophile.
In designing Google Glass, Olsson and her team focused on three design principles with the goal of creating something that people want to wear. These were lightness, simplicity and scalability. That last one means having different options available for different people - just as there are different styles of headphones, from in-ear buds to huge aviator-style monstrosities.
Google Glass currently comes in five colors - "charcoal," a lighter shade of gray called "shale," white, tangerine and bright blue "sky." The frame attachments out Tuesday are all titanium. Users can mix and match.
"People need to be able to choose," Olsson said. "These products need to be lifestyle products."