Google Glass

Google Glass

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Updated Apr 16, 2014 at 08:49PM EDT by Brad.

Added Apr 09, 2012 at 06:20PM EDT by CaptainLuigi.

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Project Glass is a research and development program by the multinational Internet and software corporation Google, which aims to build an augmented reality head-mounted display unit. A promotional video released by Google in April of 2012 has inspired several parody videos and image macros.


On February 22nd, 2012, New York Times[7] writer Nick Bilton published an article titled “Behind the Google Goggles, Virtual Reality”, which revealed that Google was building augmented reality glasses running on the Android operating system. On April 4th, Google unveiled Project Glass in a Google Plus[6] post, which included a YouTube video showcasing the concept. The video takes the perspective of a young man interacting with an augmented reality display as he explores New York City. The YouTube upload received over 12 million views within one week.

Explorer Program

On February 20th, 2013, Google uploaded a video featuring a first-person perspective of what it looks like to wear Google Glass (shown below). The video showed people interacting with the device by speaking voice commands, prefaced by the phrase “Ok Glass,” that would control what would be shown on the display. Within one month, it received over 18.5 million views and 20,000 comments.

The same day, Google opened entry into the Google Glass early adopter program named “Glass Explorer,” allowing developers and consumers early access to testing the product. Entry into the program was ended the following week on February 27th. Applicants had to post an essay consisting of 50 words or less to their Google+ or Twitter pages with the hashtag #ifihadglass. Selected individuals would then have to attend an event in New York, San Francisco or Los Angeles to pick up an Explorer edition of the device, which connects to the Internet through Wi-Fi.

2013 SXSW Event

On March 12th, 2013, Google showcased several Google Glass features during a session at the interactive portion of the South by Southwest (SXSW) annual conference held in Austin, Texas. During the presentation, Google demoed apps that had been designed for the device, including Gmail, the New York Times, Path and Evernote.

Ban on Porn Apps

On June 3rd, 2013, the first pornographic app for Google Glass was released by MiKandi[15], an adult app store for Android mobile phone users, which would allow Google Glass wearers to browse sexually explicit photos and videos filmed with the headset device. Within hours of the announcement, at least 17 owners of Google Glass signed up for the service while more than 10,000 people visited the landing page for the app, according to the blog post on the developer’s website.[16]

Later that same day, however, it soon became evident that MiKandi’s adult-only app was in violation of Google’s latest addition to its Platform Developer Policies[17] over the weekend, which prohibits sexually explicit content for the glassware altogether.

Sexually Explicit Material: We don’t allow Glassware content that contains nudity, graphic sex acts, or sexually explicit material. Google has a zero-tolerance policy against child pornography. If we become aware of content with child pornography, we will report it to the appropriate authorities and delete the Google Accounts of those involved with the distribution.

As a result, Mikandi’s request to increase the API limit for the app was denied and the company followed up with a blog post[16] explaining that the app had been in compliance with Google’s policy when it started developing the product two weeks ago and the change was unbeknownst to the developers until only after they released the app.

One Day Sale

On April 10th, 2014, at 3:01 PM EST, Google[18] announced via its Google+ page[19] that the device will be available for purchase to the general public at a price of ($1,500 plus tax) for one day on April 15th. The announcement, which came roughly two hours after The Verge[21] broke the news with leaked internal documents outlining an action plan for the sale (shown below), also stated that it will be only available for U.S. residents over the age of 21.

For each purchase, Google offered free eyeglass or sunglass frames in five different colors (red, blue, gray, black and white), with the “Cotton” white selling out within a matter of hours. By the next morning, the entire stock had been sold.


News Media Coverage

The same day the project was unveiled, it was covered by a variety of news media outlets including CNN[1], The New York Times[2], TechCrunch[3], Wired[4] and USA Today.[5]

Online Reactions

Later that day, YouTuber Tom Scott uploaded a parody video titled “Project Glasses: A New Way To Hurt Yourself”, which took the perspective of a man repeatedly running into things while being distracted by his augmented reality display.

On April 5th, 2012, a post by Redditor BabyStevie reached the front page of the /r/AdviceAnimals subreddit titled "Why Google’s project “Glass” will be successful", which featured a design photo for the project accompanied by the caption “No one has a clue / that I’m watching porn right now.”


In the following days, several other parody videos appeared on YouTube mocking the promotional video with buggy software, invasive advertisements and jealous spouses.

White Men Wearing Google Glass

On April 29th, 2013, the single topic blog “White Men Wearing Google Glass” was launched on the microblogging site Tumblr, which highlights photographs of Caucasian men wearing the Explorer edition of the Google Glass headset (shown below). Within one week, the blog posted over 30 pictures.

On the following day, the Gawker Media blog Valley Wag[9] featured a post about the blog. On May 1st, the tech news site Mashable[10] published an article highlighting several Twitter reactions to the photo blog.

The next day, the Internet news site Laughing Squid[11] posted a compilation of notable examples from the Tumblr blog and Wired[12] published an article suggesting that the abundance of white male testers in the Explorer program may be harming the product’s brand image as being “too dorky.” On May 3rd, The New York Times[13] Bits blog reported on the public reaction to the blog and ABC News[14] published an article noting that the photographs may be a telling sign of gender inequality issues within the technology industry.

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