I/O 2013: Google Glass designers predict possibilities for wearable tech market

Summary:There approximately 6,000 attendees at this year's developer conference, and you can't walk a few steps without bumping into someone sporting the Android-powered specs.

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Even without a major presence during the opening keynote, Glass has easily been the most popular product at Google I/O 2013.

There approximately 6,000 attendees at this year's developer conference, and you can't walk a few steps without bumping into someone sporting the Android-powered specs.

While this might be the one place on the planet still where Glass might appear mainstream to the casual observer, there is no denying that the fervor around Glass isn't dying down soon.

That's helped by the fact that Google revealed a few more notable apps in the pipeline that should make Glass more useful, including apps from Twitter and Evernote.

Hot on the heels of this morning's news, product directors and designers from the Glass team discussed the growing market for wearable technology and how developers can most effectively engage in the new ecosystem.

Isabelle Olsson, the lead industrial designer behind Glass, described that when the team started up, they wanted to make sure they weren't taking something that already existed and making incremental improvements.

"To create a new type of wearable technology, it's so ambitions and very messy at points," admitted Olsson.

"To create a new type of wearable technology, it's so ambitions and very messy at points," admitted Olsson. She outlined that the mechanism's design boils down to three key elements: lightness, simplicity and scalability.

 "Those are not just fancy words. They mean something," Olsson specified.

At the moment, Olsson said she is most excited about the modular aspect of Glass, which she explained means that the frame can be removed from the main board by removing a single screw.

She continued that opens up a world of possibilities, including applying Glass directly to a pair of prescription frames.

Olsson posited, "Now we are not only excited about Glass as a software platform, but Glass as a hardware platform."

Timothy Jordan, a Google senior developer advocate for Project Glass, reiterated that Glass was founded as both a device and a platform.

"We build glass not only for developers but us too. The core principle behind Glass is that we build upon the exact same APIs you do," added Google Glass engineer Charles Mendis, comparing the audience members to development teams at Twitter and Facebook.

Google Glass product director Steve Lee explained more about the "unprecedented" Explorer Program and why it made sense for Glass.

"We see the Explorer Program as a way to learn the possibilities with Glass," Lee commented.

"We see the Explorer Program as a way to learn the possibilities with Glass," Lee commented.

Lee described one of his "most memorable" experiences with Glass thus far when he found himself at Disneyland in the front row of a roller coaster sporting Glass a few weeks ago.

Going 50 miles per hour with hands in the air, Lee described he was able to capture the experience and share it with friends directly from the Android headset.

Quite simply, Lee called it "compelling."

The Explorer Program consisted of roughly 2,000 applicants from last year's Google I/O attendance base. Now that the Explorers have had their shot to pick up prototypes, Lee noted that the next wave will go out  "soon" to the "#IfIHadGlass" program.

For reference, approximately 8,000 people were selected from over 100,000 who applied. Otherwise, there is no other public timeline for a mass market release of Glass.

Lee exclaimed that what's exciting about that group is they're not developers but a "nice cross-section" of people ranging from athletes to dentists to hair stylists.

Looking forward, each of the panelists described what they would like to see on Glass.

Lee pointed towards more fitness applications that connect with other wearable tech products as well as exercise machines. Mendis added he'd like to see more mobile commerce possibilities, perhaps being able to price scan and pay bar codes directly from Glass.

Olsson's response garnered the most applause and laughter from the audience: "I'm really into karaoke."

However, it's not all sunshine and rainbows when it comes to the future of Glass. Along with trying to establish a market for itself, there is already a firestorm about how much the benefits to Glass outweigh the privacy dangers.

While Google has released a GDK for future Glass apps, Lee acknowledged that the device can still be hacked -- either for rogue apps or more nefarious purposes.

Lee replied nervously, "By design, that's not intended."

Topics: Mobility, Apps, Google, Software Development, Web development

About

Rachel King is a staff writer for CBS Interactive based in San Francisco, covering business and enterprise technology for ZDNet, CNET and SmartPlanet. She has previously worked for The Business Insider, FastCompany.com, CNN's San Francisco bureau and the U.S. Department of State. Rachel has also written for MainStreet.com, Irish Americ... Full Bio

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