In this screengrab from a livestream of Google's developers conference, Google's Sergey Brin (foreground) kicks off a demo of Google Glass.
By Scott Martin, USA TODAY
SAN FRANCISCO - Google on Wednesday unleashed its inner Evel Knievel in a stunt-filled demonstration of its secretive futuristic computerized glasses.
The Internet giant's co-founder, Sergey Brin, ran onstage sporting a prototype of the Orwellian device in the middle of Google's annual software developers conference asking, "Who wants to see a demo of Glass?" The crowd roared, "Yes!"
The Google Glass project puts computer-processing power, a camera, microphone, wireless communications and a tiny screen into a pair of super-cool-looking, lightweight glasses. For now, the "smart" glasses can display images and video and have a button that can be used for taking pictures. Ultimately, the company hopes the glasses will be able to access information in real time, including the ability to identify locations and provide additional information about your whereabouts.
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In an eye-popping moment of showmanship, Google had a small airship positioned above the Moscone Center, and a team wearing Google Glasses assembled and ready to skydive.
Brin spoke with the team - who could see him in their glasses - via a Google+ Hangouts video-conferencing session through the social-networking site. An estimated 6,000 conference attendees viewed the whole thing on the big screen inside the center.
Then the Google team jumped from the airship to the roof of the Moscone Center, transmitting the view of their descent to the folks inside.
The jumpers then passed a pair of Google Glasses to a group of bicycle stunt riders who vroomed across the rooftop, did a jump-flip, and handed off the glasses to rappellers, who shot down the side of the glass building. They were joined by bikers, and rode up to the stage to present the glasses to Brin.
With the futuristic specs, "Google has managed to do something that doesn't copy Apple," says Forrester analyst James McQuivey. "The staging was way beyond anything we've seen."
Google says the specs weigh less than many sunglasses on the nose and are intended to deliver information without having to scramble for a smartphone. The company envisions a day that information is delivered so quickly, people feel as if they know the answers to things right away.
But the glasses aren't yet ready for consumers. Google needs software developers to help unlock the digital promise of the glasses, so it offered the devices to U.S.-based Google I/O attendees for $1,500, with plans to ship the glasses by early next year.
"This is really new technology. We want to get it out into the hands of passionate people" as early as possible, said Brin.
With the stunt-laden event, Google is trying change perceptions of the company from that of an algorithmic, engineering-focused place to one that's got more of a human side, McQuivey says.