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Google Invites Ideas For Its High-Tech Eyewear

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

NPR's business news starts with ogling Google.

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MONTAGNE: Google Glass is the company's digital interactive eyewear. It's been in the works for a while, and as NPR's Steve Henn reports, Google is now inviting members of the public to try them out. But there's a catch. To get a pair you have to win a contest by coming up with creative uses for the gadget - and then you'll have to hand over some cash.

STEVE HENN, BYLINE: Nothing makes people want something quite as much as a velvet rope that's holding them back - at least that seems to be Google's thinking when it comes to promoting its high-tech augmented reality glasses called Google Glass.

This week, Google released a video showing ballerinas, sky divers, kids, trapeze artists and hot air balloonists filming their lives hands free - from a first person perspective - and they did all this simply by talking to their glasses.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #2: OK glasses, take a picture.

HENN: Now Google says 8,000 pairs of these interactive augmented reality glasses are going to be sold to the public for $1,500 a pop. But first you have to win the right to buy this gadget by telling Google what kinds of wonderful and creative things you'll do with them first.

GISLI OLAFSSON: I would use them to find ways to augment information for disaster responders worldwide.

HENN: Gisli Olafsson at Net Hope helps disaster responders incorporate new technologies. Communicating hands-free in a disaster area is a big plus.

OLAFSSON: Exactly.

HENN: Google Glass could be perfect. But not all the responses posted online have been as high-minded - some of the most popular have been sadly predictable.

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HENN: Cat videos. Steve Henn, NPR News, Silicon Valley. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Steve Henn is NPR's technology correspondent based in Menlo Park, California, who is currently on assignment with Planet Money. An award winning journalist, he now covers the intersection of technology and modern life - exploring how digital innovations are changing the way we interact with people we love, the institutions we depend on and the world around us. In 2012 he came frighteningly close to crashing one of the first Tesla sedans ever made. He has taken a ride in a self-driving car, and flown a drone around Stanford's campus with a legal expert on privacy and robotics.