The Google co-founder Sergey Brin recently described touchscreen smartphones as "emasculating". This week, tech fans finally got their first good look at what he plans to replace them with: a US$1500 ($1820) pair of hi-tech spectacles.
At the South by Southwest (SXSW) technology festival in Austin, Texas, Timothy Jordan, Google's senior developer advocate, gave the first detailed demonstration of Google Glass, the hotly anticipated web goggles, which display digital information on a tiny screen just in front of the wearer's right eye.
Mr Brin, 39, who was photographed sporting a pair on the New York subway in January, has suggested the specs are the first in a new generation of "wearable tech" items. He first demonstrated an early iteration of Google Glass in May 2012.
The SXSW presentation is part of a long build-up to the product launch later this year. Early adopters who signed up to be Glass guinea pigs will receive their US$1500 prototype imminently, while consumers should be able to purchase the device before the end of the year.
The glasses are controlled with a combination of voice commands and a tiny touchpad on one arm of the headset, which also contains the miniature computer's working parts. As he swiped and tapped at the touch-pad near his right temple, Mr Jordan seemed keen to emphasise that the glasses are not distracting to wear. "It's all about the ability to have it there when you want it and out of the way when you don't," he said.
The presentation was also the first time app developers had the chance to witness the device's Mirror, which they will use to build apps that make use of Glass's unique functionality. Users can swipe between screens and functions via a series of so-called "timeline cards", which include text, rich HTML content, images and/or video.
Reviewers who watched the demonstration were well-disposed towards the technology, but one Seattle bar has banned the device. According to CNET.com, the owner of The 5 Point said the clientele of his "seedy, maybe notorious" establishment are "not the sort of people that want to be secretly filmed or videotaped and immediately put on the internet".