SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Google helped create a world brimming with digital distractions for people spending more of their lives tethered to the Internet. It's a phenomenon that seems unlikely to change so Google is working on a way to search for information, read text messages, watch online video and post photos on social networks without having to fumble around with a hand-held device.
The breakthrough is a wearable computer — a pair of Internet-connected glasses that Google Inc. began secretly building more than two years ago. The technology progressed far enough for Google to announce "Project Glass" in April. Now the futuristic experiment is moving closer to becoming a mass-market product.
Google announced Wednesday that it's selling a prototype of the glasses to U.S. computer programmers attending a three-day conference that ends Friday. Developers willing to pay $1,500 for a pair of the glasses will receive them early next year.
The company is counting on the programmers to suggest improvements and build applications that will make the glasses even more useful.
"This is new technology and we really want you to shape it," Google co-founder Sergey Brin told about 6,000 attendees. "We want to get it out into the hands of passionate people as soon as possible."
If all goes well, a less expensive version of the glasses is expected to go on sale for consumers in early 2014. Without estimating a price for the consumer version, Brin made it clear the glasses will cost more than smartphones.
"We do view this is as a premium sort of thing," Brin said during a question-and-answer session with reporters.
Brin acknowledged Google still needs to fix a variety of bugs in the glasses and figure out how to make the battery last longer so people can wear them all day.
Those challenges didn't deter Brin from providing conference attendees Wednesday with a tantalizing peek at how the glasses might change the way people interact with technology.
Google hired skydivers to jump out of a blimp hovering 7,000 feet above downtown San Francisco. They wore the Internet-connected glasses, which are equipped with a camera, to show how the product could unleash entirely new ways for people to share their most thrilling — or boring — moments. As the skydivers parachuted onto the roof of the building where the conference was held, the crowd inside was able to watch the descent through the skydivers' eyes as it happened.
"I think we are definitely pushing the limits," Brin told reporters after the demonstration. "That is our job: to push the edges of technology into the future."