Google is expanding its Glass Explorer program once again, allowing current participants to invite three of their closest friends to drop $1,500 on highly experimental hardware. Hard to believe that at one point, Holiday 2013 was cited as a possible consumer ship date for Glass – the wearable tech isn’t ready for that, but Google does feel at least that it can instruct people in the gadget’s use remotely instead of in person, according to Android Central.
Original Glass Explorer participants not only had to fork over a hefty sum for their computerized eyeware, they were also encouraged to make a trek to either Los Angeles or New York City to pick up the unit and receive an instructional briefing from a certified Glassnician (that may or may not be what they’re actually called). Now, however, they can use Hangouts to get their Glass 101 education, including a walkthrough of the setup process, explanation of Glass’s features, and a history lesson on how the faceputer came to be. Original Explorers could opt to have the device shipped to them, but the Hangouts option for Glass education appears to be new.
Android Central editor Phil Nickinson is a lucky participant in Google’s latest round of Explorer program expansion, and he’s been informed that the introductory Hangout would last around 45 minutes. It definitely sounds, based on previous accounts, that this is a process that can be handled remotely – our own former writer Drew Olanoff went through it back when the Explorer process initially kicked off.
Google is also reportedly setting up barges for the purposes of providing travelling Glass showrooms, which is something that still makes sense. It seems unlikely that Glass will change so much between now and its anticipated consumer shipping date (sometime next year) that it no longer requires getting used to. Having in-person opportunities to check it out and have it explained will remain a core component of selling this product, no matter how much more development Google does on it before taking it out of the experimentation phase.
Still, it’s interesting to see them make this move, since it could be something that works on a wider consumer scale, too. Amazon is experimenting with direct, live technical assistance on the new Kindle Fire HDX, and Glass makes even more sense for such a program. At this point, the biggest question around Glass is when and how they’ll get their wider release – these new Explorers might provide some clues on both counts.