Google Glass gets a mainstream push with designer frames

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The new Google Glass prescription frames rest on a table at the Google Glass Basecamp space at Chelsea Market in New York. (AP) The new Google Glass prescription frames rest on a table at the Google Glass Basecamp space at Chelsea Market in New York. (AP)
SummaryGoogle Glass has received prescription frames status and new styles of detachable sunglasses.

Google Glass is getting glasses. Google is adding prescription frames and new styles of detachable sunglasses to its computerised, internet-connected goggles known as Glass.

The move comes as Google prepares to make Glass available to the general population later this year. Currently, Glass is available only to the tens of thousands of people who are testing and creating apps for it.

Glass hasn't actually had glasses in its frame until now.

Glass is basically a small computer, with a camera and a display screen above the wearer's right eye. The device sits roughly at eyebrow level, higher than where eyeglasses would go.

It lets wearers surf the web, ask for directions and take photos or videos. Akin to wearing a smartphone without having to hold it in your hands, Glass also lets people read their email, share photos on Twitter and Facebook, translate phrases while travelling or partake in video chats. Glass follows some basic voice commands, spoken after the words “OK, Glass.”

The gadget itself is not changing with this announcement. Rather, Google plans to make various attachments available. Starting Tuesday, the Mountain View, California, company is offering four styles of prescription frames and two new types of shades available to its “explorers” — the people who are trying out Glass. The frames will cost $225 and the shades $150. That's on top of the $1,500 price of Glass.

Users can take the frames to any vision care provider for prescription lenses, though Google says it is working with insurance provider Vision Service Plan to train eye-care providers around the US on how to work with Glass. Google says some insurance plans may cover the cost of the frames.

Isabelle Olsson, the lead designer for Google Glass, says the new frames open the spectacles up to a larger audience.

She demonstrated the new frames to The Associated Press last week at the Google Glass Basecamp, an airy loft on the eighth floor of New York City's Chelsea Market. It's one of the places where Glass users go to pick up their wares and learn how to use them. Walking in, visitors are greeted, of course, by a receptionist wearing Google Glass.

“We want as many people as possible to wear it,” she said.

To that end, Glass's designers picked four basic but distinct frame styles. On one end is a chunky “bold” style that stands out. On the other is a “thin” design — to blend in as much

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