For the tens of thousand of Glass Explorers testing Google's wearable hardware, this might not seem like a particularly meaningful change because Glass's bone conduction audio is merely adequate as far as sound fidelity goes. So to make audio matter, Google will introduce improved Glass hardware that can accommodate a set of stereo earbuds designed for Glass.
[ Will they be on display on Google's secret barge? Read Google Barge: 10 Informative Images. ]
Google mentioned the hardware change last last month. "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," the company said, without explaining the shift away from the bone conduction audio transducer used in the initial hardware release.
The stereo earbuds will be sold separately for $85. They can be customized with any of five interchangeable color caps, to match the five available Glass colors.
Turning Glass into a capable audio player seems certain to boost the device's appeal to the general public, provided next year's consumer-oriented hardware revision costs a fraction of the current $1,500 price tag. Apple's transition from computer company to consumer electronics company was made possible by demand for its iPod. Google presumably would like to travel a similar path.
Focusing on Glass as music player has a marketing benefit beyond the broad appeal of music listening. Doing so ducks the privacy issues that accompany Glass as a video recording device and the social issues that arise when a device competes for the wearer's attention, at the potential expense of other people.
To convey how Glass can be a meaningful tool for creativity, Google has created a video with Young Guru, a DJ, producer and audio engineer who says he's a Glass Explorer because exploration is what he does daily to make music. The video, filmed entirely through Glass, shows him fetching a Spanish phrase with the aid of Glass, identifying songs via Glass, and sending email with Glass.
Glass in other words is something that might actually be useful.