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Review: Google Glass titanium frames

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February 3, 2014

Gizmag reviews the new Google Glass prescription frames, which just might help to reduce t...

Gizmag reviews the new Google Glass prescription frames, which just might help to reduce the product's geek factor

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When we reviewed Google Glass, one of our big questions was whether Google can do anything to make the specs less awkward to wear in public. We recently got our hands on something that might help out. Read on, as Gizmag takes a look at the new titanium prescription frames for Google Glass.

Having smartphone functionality in your field of vision is great, but would you be willing to look like a science fiction character in order to get that? That's basically the tradeoff that Google has been asking its beta-testing "Explorers" to make. And while that's still an issue to some degree, I think these new prescription frames just might be the secret de-nerding sauce that we've been waiting for.

You can take the titanium frames in to your eyecare provider, who shouldn't have any probl...

But before we delve into that, let's rewind a bit and take a look at the frames themselves. If you're already a Glass Explorer, then you just pick your style and color of choice, pay Google US$225, and have a snazzy-looking pair of frames shipped to your door. Grab the special screwdriver that's included in your package, unmount Glass from its default visor (easy), and within a few minutes you'll have the smart specs attached to a real, honest-to-goodness pair of glasses.

I chose the "Split" style in the color "Charcoal" (which matches the color of my Glass). It's very lightweight, modern, and stylish-looking. If you subtract the face-computer part, this could easily be something you might pick out at your optometrist's showroom.

Of course Google doesn't ship them with prescription lenses. You just have a pair of clear dummy lenses to fill the frames, and you'll have to take them to an eyecare provider to correct your vision. But whether you actually need a prescription or not, I think the frames are an important step forward for the product. It really dials down the geek quotient by at least a few notches.

They still don't exactly look 'normal' per se, but we think Glass' new prescription frames...

There's a lot that I like about Google Glass, but it was always hard for me to get past looking like a distant cousin of Geordi La Forge. And while I wouldn't necessarily describe this new Glass look as "normal," I do feel much less self-conscious wearing it in public. Now it looks less like a futuristic contraption living on my face, and more like I have an interesting accessory attached to my regular glasses. They're now less funny-looking and more ... different-looking.

The proof came when I actually wore the new frames out in public. While running simple errands like shopping and eating in a restaurant, I only noticed one or two people even giving Glass a second look. Even people I talked to up close didn't act like there was anything strange about it. That was never the case with the standard Google Glass visor, as I couldn't walk a few steps in public without feeling the quizzical stares piercing me from every direction.

The frames feel good on my head. It's about like you'd expect: combine the feeling of wearing regular glasses with the feeling of wearing Google Glass, and there you have it. The lenses don't interfere with seeing Glass' screen, though I do notice glare on it a little bit more than I did before. Of course you still have that thick bar curving around the side of your head, but at least now it's anchored to something that's more familiar and socially acceptable.

We reviewed the 'Split' style, though there are also 'Curve,' 'Bold,' and 'Thin' to choose...

I haven't taken the frames in to get actual prescription lenses just yet, and I'm not sure if I will. I've been wearing them (somewhat redundantly) along with my contact lenses, so I can't yet speak to the process of getting lenses fitted to them. But Google does supply you with a small pamphlet to give to your eyecare provider with instructions that they should understand. Though Google does recommend some official Glass Preferred Eyecare Providers, it looks like it's simple enough that your own eyecare specialist should be able to handle it.

But, as I mentioned earlier, I think that's only half of the equation here. These frames aren't just for those who already wear glasses. It's for anyone who wants to wear Google Glass without sticking out like a sore thumb everywhere he goes. If you're a Glass Explorer, I highly recommend adding these to your purchase, and I'd also be very happy if Google included them as the standard with the upcoming retail version.

For more on Glass, you can read our full review. If you want to sign up to be an Explorer, you can register for an invite (and start setting aside US$1,500) at the product page below.

Product page: Google Glass

About the Author
Will Shanklin Will Shanklin covers consumer technology for Gizmag. He's previously written for Android Central, Geek, GottaBeMobile, Android Police, and The Huffington Post.
He lives in New Mexico, U.S., with his lovely wife, Jessica.
  All articles by Will Shanklin
4 Comments

Could be incredibly useful. Wearables, as a category, are still a bit clunky.

Seth Miesters
3rd February, 2014 @ 04:18 pm PST

If they want it to look less odd, why not make the Glass closer to skin tone rather then black.

Just like hearing aids or prosthetic limbs. How many of those do you see in black?

Nairda
3rd February, 2014 @ 08:09 pm PST

I don't think your local lens provider can do the correct job. The lens of the Glass is up in the corner and typically, prescription lenses have a lot of distortion toward the edges. The "preferred" providers process the location of Glass in such a way to eliminate this distortion.

John Coryat
4th February, 2014 @ 08:14 am PST

Mr. Will Shanklin, I have an urgent question for you. I read your previous article about the google glass as well as this one and I am thinking about purchasing one for my husband's (big tech. guy) birthday. However, he is in a wheelchair with limited mobility of his hand/arms. In other words, he cannot reach up to his head to push any buttons and therefore would have to rely on the voice commands and activation. I see from your review that there are many features that can be controlled hands free (thanks by the way that was super helpful). He has always wanted to take a picture that is higher that his lap level. So my question is do you think this would be an amazing product for someone that will need to use it completely hands-free?? I hope I can hear back from you quickly, because if so I want to make the purchase today! Thanks so much, you and my husband have a similar look and I was thrilled to see that the charcoal looks very nice on you. Otherwise, if I had not seen your pictures, I was going to go with black.

[Will Shanklin responds:

There's a lot that you can do completely hands-free with Glass. That includes sending messages, searching Google, and even taking pictures (with a wink). But it isn't designed as a 100 percent hands-free device, so I'm a little on the fence about whether this would be good for your husband. The problem is, scrolling through your history of messages requires you to swipe on the trackpad. To change settings, you also need to do that.

If he can live with a more limited version of Google Glass, then it might be worth it. Just know that he won't be able to look at older messages, check on Google Now cards, or change system settings without some help.

Hope this helps, best wishes!

Cheers,

Will]

Sherry Buchbach
15th April, 2014 @ 10:12 am PDT
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