Google starts notifying the first “winners” of the right to buy Google Glass for $1,500

Feeling emasculated by your smartphone? Not anymore! High five!
Feeling emasculated by your smartphone? Not anymore! High five!
Image: AP/Paul Sakuma
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Google has begun alerting the “winners” of its #ifihadglass contest (that’s “If I had Glass,” as a hashtag) that they will soon have the privilege of forking over $1,500 for a gadget that, by Google’s own admission, will by 2014 retail to the public for much less than that. But that’s the price of being a (really) early adopter. (On the off chance you’ve missed it, Glass is Google’s entrée into the exciting world of face-based computing.)

One thing that’s odd about the contest is that Google appears to have chosen winners at random. At least one tweet that “won” wasn’t even an attempt to enter the contest. (I’ve reached out to Google about this.) This has some of those who didn’t win the contest leaving irate messages on Twitter and Google+. (Not to be missed: this gem.)

Congratulations, random sharer of news!
Congratulations, random sharer of news!
Image: Twitter

Among the 8,000 people who will receive an “Explorer Edition” (read: beta) version of Glass is Chris Gammell, professional electronics designer and host of the Amp Hour podcast. In order to get his Google Glass headset, he’ll have to fly from his home in Cleveland, Ohio to one of the pickup points in New York, Los Angeles or San Francisco. Add the cost of the flight to the cost of the headset, and he’s looking at $2,000 for what is essentially a wire frame with a tiny eyepiece on it.

“It feels like I won the lottery. I’m stupidly excited about this,” said Gammell. “I wrote [my entry] on a whim and it was a Hail Mary.”

Gammell also said that he’s been working on a bluetooth sensor project anyway, and if Google Glass takes off, it could be huge. “Because of the wearable computing aspect, and fact that it could become a standard—that’s a leap I’m willing to take.”

The one thing Gammell won’t be doing is wearing a recognizable pair of Google Glasses in public, thanks to the prominent backlash against the devices which has already begun. (Many are uncomfortable with the fact that Google Glass could be used to easily, even surreptitiously, record in public.)

“I’m going to turn it into something else to make sure it’s not recognizable,” says Gammell. “Like the Kanye West glasses,” he adds, laughing. Gammell just got a machine that can mill plastic into whatever shape he likes, so his plan is to either attach the electronics of Glass to a different pair of glasses or else break down Glass and “put it into a different form factor.”