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.
Glass is basically a small computer, with a camera and a display screen above the wearer's right eye. The device sits roughly at eyebrow level, higher than where eyeglasses would go.
It lets wearers surf the Web, ask for directions and take photos or videos. Akin to wearing a smartphone without having to hold it in your hands, Glass also lets people read their email, share photos on Twitter and Facebook, translate phrases while traveling or partake in video chats.
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.
Glass's designers picked four basic but distinct frame styles. On one end is a chunky “bold” style that stands out. On the other is a “thin” design — to blend in as much as possible.
Google won't be able to compete with the thousands of styles offered at typical eyeglasses stores. Instead, Glass's designers looked at what types of glasses are most popular, what people wear the most and, importantly, what they look good in.
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.
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.