Google has confirmed that the Explorer Edition of its Google Glass $1,500 networked specs will be shipped within weeks.
"This month Google hopes to ship Glass Explorer Edition, designed for the first people to examine the potential uses of Glass," a Google spokesperson told ABC News. "Developers can tinker with Glass and consumers can try it out in the real world."
The timing fits in with Google's annual I/O conference in San Francisco next month, where Glass is expected to be a major focus for the company. It also follows reports last month that the first Glass units were shortly to come off the production lines of Foxconn factories in the US.
It's not clear however whether the headsets shipping next month will just be going to those developers who pre-ordered their Google Glass specs some time ago, or also to the 8,000 competition winners who Google recently selected to purchase their own Explorer Editions.
In other Glass news, Google's investment arm Google Ventures announced on Wednesday it had teamed up with venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz and early Google-backer Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers (KPCB) to form the Glass Collective, a seed fund on the prowl for Glass's first killer apps.
Google last month took the wraps off a few popular apps that were re-built for the new mini-screen form factor, such as a New York Times reader app by Google, Evernote and Path.
According to KPCB's John Doerr (pictured), who got a sneak peek at Glass in 2011, that also includes Twitter. But he says, Glass has a bigger potential than smartphones.
"Right away, I could see that Glass was not just a platform for applications," wrote Doerr. "It also had the potential to create a brave new world of services and experiences. Since then, in rapid fire over just 20 months, Glass has been iterated, tested and refined. It has attracted some of Google's best and brightest talent, and is drenched in advanced software, including Android, voice recognition, and an innovative user interface."
The companies have not said how much seed funding will be available to startups. However, the Glass Collective wants to see both hardware and services ideas for Glass, and of course consumer and enterprise innovations around messaging, sharing, search and navigation.
The collective will only provide seed funding to US startups initially and may broaden that as the platform matures.