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Get ready for Google Glass mark II

gadgets Updated: Oct 30, 2013 15:08 IST

The search giant has announced that a new version of its smart headset is on its way and plans to let existing owners invite their friends to become Google Glass explorers too.

In a Google+ posting, the company says that current Google Glass wearers -- known as Explorers -- will be able to trade in their existing headsets for a new model and that they will each also be entitled to invite three friends to join the program.

The next version of Google Glass will be compatible with prescription lenses for those people that have no choice but to wear glasses and it will also be doing away with the bone conduction speaker system in the current model, which many users have claimed is rather less than good. However, it is being replaced by a single ear bud, which means one-ear mono sound -- great for making a phone call but not for listening to music.

As the post explains: "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."

Google hasn't said when the new version is coming and simple states: "Explorers, stay tuned for more details -- we'll be emailing you soon!"

There are currently 8000 pairs of Google Glass in the wild and by extending the program for the second time -- Google asked existing wearers to nominate friends to join the program in July too -- this number could swell to 24,000.

Google's approach to developing its first piece of wearable technology also suggests that it is in no hurry to rush Google Glass to market and that a lot of work is still left to do before it's ready for widespread consumer use.

Even though it is in the hands and on the faces of so few people (and is confined to users in North America) the device has generated a huge amount of publicity, both good and bad, since its launch. Glass has raised questions about privacy, widespread damage to accepted forms of social interaction and of course, fashion sense.

Earlier this year, a BiTE Interactive survey found that only one in 10 Americans would be willing to wear Google Glass. When asked what factors would prevent them from buying the device, 45 percent of the 1000 smartphone-owning respondents cited "social awkwardness" and claimed that it appears "too irritating" to wear, while 44 percent claimed that they don't find any of Google Glass's known features to be desirable.

In order to help change people's opinion of the device, in October Google launched a roadtrip initiative whereby Google Glass experts travel from city to city to demonstrate Google Glass and its capabilities and answer questions.

Google Glass is rumored to launch in the US sometime in 2014 but a European launch could be years away due to difficulties the software has in understanding various accents and dialects.