Google's much-hyped Project Glass spectacles are inching closer to launch and the Chocolate Factory has released an application programming interface (API) guide and management software for the headgear.
The first techno-specs, dubbed Google Glass Explorer Edition, are already rolling off the production line, the firm said in an email to those who paid $1,500 last year to get their hands on them. The new software will allow developers to start crafting apps for the wearable system. The tech specs are now online.
Each set comes with a 16:9 640x360 screen over the right eye that Google suggests will look the same as a "25-inch high" screen seen from eight feet away. They will have 16GB of flash (12 of which is usable) and can communicate via Bluetooth and 802.11b/g Wi-Fi protocols, but not the more modern standard. Sound comes via bone conductivity from the arms of the headset.
There's no word on the processor involved, but on the contentious camera issue Glass carries a five megapixel unit capable of 720p video (provided the establishment you're in doesn't throw you out for trying). Each set comes with adjustable nose pads for a comfortable fit and steady-as-your-head shooting angle.
Google estimates that the glasses will have a day's battery life (each set comes with a MicroUSB charger), although it warns that Google Hangouts and video recording can cause a big drain. But there's a worrying caveat in Google's specs: "While there are thousands of Micro USB chargers out there, Glass is designed and tested with the included charger in mind. Use it and preserve long and prosperous Glass use."
Users customise their reality overlay and add applications to the headset using the MyGlass management app released on Tuesday. Any prospective Glass wearer will need an Android phone running version 4.0.3 or better to do so – but if you're splashing out that kind of cash on an Android prototype you're not going to be using Gingerbread.
"If you don't have Glass, then downloading this will be a waste of time. Sorry about that," Google warns. "But if you swipe the screenshots to the right you'll see there's a picture of a puppy in pajamas. So not a total waste of time after all."
Google's going to try to recruit as many developers as possible into the "Glassware" community but judging from the advice in the API pack for developers it's obviously keen to keep out the riff-raff. There are stern warnings not to use Glass for advertising, slurping user data, or marketing. That, after all, is Google's job.
In addition: "Except as specifically licensed by Google, you may not use the APIs for any activities where the use or failure of the APIs could lead to death, personal injury, or environmental damage (such as the operation of nuclear facilities, air traffic control, or life support systems)."
Access to third-party software will primarily come through the use of what Google calls "timecards", screens of information that display on the headset's screen. These include menu controls for further navigation, GPS coordination for location-based apps, and a selection of contact management tools. From the look of them Google+ is going to play a big role in software design.
Next month's I/O developer's conference is going to see a lot of hoopla around Glass. Considering last year Google live-streamed a Glass-wearing skydiver landing on the convention centre that's going to take some topping, but this latest update at least lets developers know what they can and can't do. ®