Google Glass arrives in the UK for £1000

Google stresses the device is experimental and not for 'general consumers'

Google’s wearable computer prototype Google Glass will go on sale this week to all British residents over the age of 18, with the company claiming the device will “bring people the technology they rely upon without drawing them out of the moment”.

Glass connects to the internet through a paired smartphone and displays messages to the wearer on a small transparent screen positioned in the corner of their vision. It will cost £1000 and can be worn with or without prescription lenses.

Google is keen to stress that the device is still a work in progress but hopes that it represents the future of computing - offering users hands-free access to the sort of information and apps available through a smartphone.

“It’s not ready for mass consumption or a broader audience,” Ivy Ross, Head of Google Glass, told The Independent. “But we’ve learned a tremendous amount from the people - from the Explorers, - we sold to in the US on this level and we want to do the same here.”

Google first offered the product in the US to tens of thousands of these early adopters before putting the device on general sale in May this year. This “open beta” has allowed the company to process feedback from customers and developers but it’s also thrown up a number of problems with the technology.

In January this year San Diego resident Cecilia Abadie was given a ticket for wearing Glass while driving and in the same month Columbus-based software engineer Tiberiu Ungureanu was ejected from a cinema and detained by police for wearing Glass while watching a movie.

Abadie and Ungureanu were eventually acquitted after no evidence was found that Glass had been used, but in both cases it was the (relatively) inconspicuous nature of the device that led others to suspect that it was being operated covertly – a problem of trust that has been compounded by the device’s built-in camera and widespread public concern about surveillance.

“We’ve designed the unit with privacy in mind meaning you can see when the screen is on,” says Ross. “One of the reasons that we are doing these beta launches is to learn. With any new technologies there are always issues that will arise, I mean, Kodak cameras were banned from parks in the 1890s. So we’re listening very carefully and taking that feedback.”

However, it’s not just Glass’s functionality that has caused tension but the type of user it attracts. In February one wearer had the device snatched from their face after recording patrons in a bar in San Francisco, and Google has published advice in the US telling users “don’t be a glasshole” – a word that has emerged in the US tech scene to describe inconsiderate Glass users.

“We don’t go into it anticipating that,” says Ross about Google’s ‘Dos and Don’ts’. “There’s always – in anything you do – people that will use something for the wrong reasons but that’s not a phrase we want to coin or own. Our hope is that the British are better behaved but if we need to create our own list for you guys we will!”

Despite this, Glass may still be unwelcome in certain situations. The Department of Transport pre-emptively banned Glass from being used while driving (it now says its investigating ways to allow Glass to be used legally on the road) while cinema chain Vue has said it will ask users to remove Glass during a film.

Since its launch in the US Google has been working hard to demonstrate all the potential uses for the technology, including setting up a charity named Giving Through Glass that invites non-profits to show how they’d use the device to help their causes.

In the UK Glass has been trialled by the University of Newcastle to aid individuals suffering from Parkinson’s, helping them to access the web through voice commands when tremors stop them from using a computer and providing reminders to take their medicine.

The researchers found that although reactions to Glass were “generally positive” there were lingering concerns – including that the device’s high price tag might make wearers a target for thieves, and the worry that the technology might simply make users dependent on others in new ways.

Ross says that the idea behind the UK launch is simply to get the device into the hands of “a wide variety of people who will help shape the future of this new category,” adding that she hopes especially to reach out to groups who have concerns about the device.

“Ironically, often, when they actually get to wear Glass they realise – they get to understand it better. The unknown is worse sometimes than the known.” Whether we love Glass or hate it, we're certainly going to know more about it over the coming months.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Martin of Coldplay performs live for fans at Enmore Theatre on June 19, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)
Dave Mackay lifts the FA Cup in 1967 having skippered Spurs to victory
Life and Style
Marie had fake ID, in the name of Johanna Koch, after she evaded capture by the Nazis in wartime Berlin
historyOne woman's secret life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
Jihadi John
newsMonikers like 'Jihadi John' make the grim sound glamorous
Arts and Entertainment
As depicted in Disney's Robin Hood, King John was cowardly, cruel, avaricious and incompetent
Life and Style
Travis Kalanick, the co-founder of Uber, is now worth $5.3bn
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator - Lancashire - £30,000

    £28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: 3rd Line Support Engineer / Network ...

    Recruitment Genius: Graduate Web Developer

    £26000 - £33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Web Developer is required to ...

    Ashdown Group: PeopleSoft Developer - London - £45k

    £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: PeopleSoft Application Support & Development ...

    Recruitment Genius: Web Hosting Support Agent

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: One of the North West's leading web hosting pr...

    Day In a Page

    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
    Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

    Poldark star Heida Reed

    'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn