Google Glass receives a hardware refresh; this time, you might get your hands on one

Google’s been quiet on the Glass front for some time, but the company broke silence Monday to discuss two huge changes to the current Glass Explorer program. First, we’ll see a new iteration of Glass hardware soon, and second, there’s a decent chance you’ll get access to one even if you’re not a tech glitterati or cynical journalist.

It’s not open season on Google Glass yet—you still need an invitation to buy one. However, Google plans to broaden its user base significantly and allow each Glass owner to invite up to three friends in the next few weeks. “We’re counting on you to get Glass to the people you think will make great Explorers,” says Google’s announcement page. “They’ll be able to buy Glass online and can have it shipped to their home, office, treehouse or igloo.”

Hardware update

All those newly-christened Explorers will receive an improved version of the Glass hardware—the first new iteration since the Explorer program went public back in February. No price was announced.

So far, all improvements to Glass have come on the software side—for instance, a web browser was added back in July—but Google says, “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.”

Early adopters who paid the $1,500 for Glass earlier this year won’t be left out, though. “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,” says Google.

Anyone who purchased Glass before today is eligible for the swap, though you’ll only have 60 days to register to do so. Google says it will notify Explorers in November with more details. You can also keep your old device if you want, though I’d be hard-pressed to think of a reason why beyond archival purposes.

This news comes hot on the heels of reports about Google’s mystery barge in the San Francisco Bay, started by CNET last week. The current hypothesis holds that the barge is actually a gigantic, floating Google Glass store that the company plans to float from city to city.

A floating, movable barge-store may sound like pure Jules Verne, but this is the company that wants to provide wireless Internet to remote areas by balloon. Regardless, it looks like Glass is on the way—whether you’re excited about it or not.

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