Google is looking to triple the number of people testing Glass before the official rollout of the wearable computers next year.
The company announced in a post on Google+ Tuesday that over the next few weeks all of its Glass Explorers, or prototype testers, will be able to invite three people to join the program. They'll have to pay the $1,500 price tag for the computerized eyeglasses, but they'll be able to join the original 8,000 Glass testers.
The new testers also won't have to travel to a Google base, like San Francisco or New York, to pick up their prototypes as others had to. Glass will be shipped directly to them.
"They'll be able to buy Glass online and can have it shipped to their home, office, treehouse or igloo," Google wrote in the post. "We're counting on you to get Glass to the people you think will make great Explorers. More Explorers means more feedback, and more feedback means better Glass."
Google also announced that all of its Explorers won't have to buy new models of Glass when they begin to ship. They can exchange their prototypes for the new versions.
"We want to say 'thank you' for all the amazing feedback we've been getting, so later this year, all Explorers will have a one-time option to swap out their existing Glass for a new one," wrote Google. "This hardware update will allow your Glass to work with future lines of shades and prescription frames, and we'll also include a mono earbud."
That deal, however, won't apply to the latest Glass Explorers.
Google explained that only Explorers who purchased Glass before Oct. 28 are eligible. And once the program is open, they'll have 60 days to register for the exchange. After that, the offer expires.
The company said it will notify testers in November about the Exchange option.
Earlier this year, Google sources had been saying that Glass officially would be released late this year. However, that date has been pushed back to 2014.
The confusion began at the company's popular Google I/O conference in May. During the conference, several Googlers said Glass would ship in 2013, despite the fact that Eric Schmidt, Google's former CEO and current executive chairman, had said earlier that Glass wouldn't be released formally until 2014.
Analysts at Google I/O said Schmidt was likely playing it safe in case the ship date did extend beyond 2013. That seemingly is what happened; all Googlers now say Glass will ship next year.
Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, on Google+ or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed. Her email address is [email protected].
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