Apr 10 2014, 4:33pm CDT | by Forbes
Part of the cachet, and the stigma, around Google Glass derives from how hard it is to get your hands on a pair: You have to be a member of the Glass Explorer beta tester program — or, like infamous Glasshole Sarah Slocum, at least have a friend who is and doesn’t mind letting you borrow them.
Until now, there were only a few ways to become an Explorer, including submitting a mini-essay via Google Plus or Twitter. But next week, Google is lowering the barrier, at least temporarily.
Starting at 9 a.m. ET on April 15, any U.S. adult can order Glass and become an Explorer. (Order a Glass? A pair of Glass? Hopefully broadening the user base will yield a more natural-feeling terminology.) Google isn’t saying how long the public sale will last, only that the number of slots on offer is limited.
Access, of course, is only half of what makes Glass such an exclusive technology. It’s also darn expensive, at $1,500 plus tax.
That price is one reason some analysts are now predicting Glass will catch on as a device for business rather than personal use. Google is encouraging more adoption by businesses with a new Glass At Work initiative announced this week.
According to the New York Times, Glass is being most readily embraced by workers who require use of their hands, can’t easily make use of a laptop or desktop computer and don’t have to interact with customers face to face. A slew of developers have begun making enterprise software for Glass, and there’s even an investment partnership between three of the biggest Silicon Valley venture capital firms — Andreessen Horowitz, Kleiner Perkins and Google Ventures — dedicated to funding them.
Hospitals are one of the environments where Glass seems to be finding a professional use case. It’s not just doctors who are wearing them: At Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston, pediatric patients confined to the hospital recently used Glass to tour the Houston Zoo. The results were fairly heartwarming.
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