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Google Glass' first non-US market to be over the pond

SAN FRANCISCO -- Google on Monday made Glass available in Britain to early adopters willing to spend 1,000 pounds for a chance to dabble with the Internet-linked eyewear.

The California-based technology titan expanded an “explorer” program beyond the United States for the first time by inviting British enthusiasts to virtually queue for the gadget online at google.co.uk/glass.

“Probably the question we've heard more than any other is: when will Glass be available outside the U.S.?” the Glass team said in a post on its Google+ social network page.

“Well, we're starting out by dipping our toes across the pond.”

The eyewear — hotly anticipated by some, feared by others — became available in the United States in May to anyone with US$1,500 to spare and a desire to become an “explorer.”

The decision to open the Glass test, or beta, program in the U.S. came about a month after a one-day sale of the eyewear to the public.

In a possible sign of interest, the Glass page on the Google+ network has more than 736,000 followers and has been viewed more than 114 million times.

Early this year, Google joined forces with the frame giant behind Ray-Ban and other high-end brands to create and sell Glass eyewear in the United States.

The partnership with Luxottica was portrayed as Google's “biggest step yet into the emerging smart eyewear market.”

Luxottica brands include Oakley, Alain Mikli, Ray-Ban and Vogue-Eyewear.

The first smart glasses by Luxottica for Google Glass will go on sale in 2015, according to the Italian eyewear group.

Google has been working to burnish the image of Glass, which has triggered concerns about privacy since the devices are capable of capturing pictures and video.

During the Explorer testing phase, developers are creating apps for Google Glass, which can range from getting weather reports to sharing videos to playing games.

Glass connects to the Internet using Wi-Fi hot spots or, more typically, by being wirelessly tethered to mobile phones. Pictures or video may be shared through the Google Plus social network.

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Charles, Prince of Wales, tries on Google Glass spectacles as he visits Innovation Alley on May 21 in Winnipeg, Canada. The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall are on a four-day visit to Canada. (AFP)

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