Google Glass created quite a buzz when the technology giant unveiled it in early 2012. Basically, the device is a pair of glasses with an integrated display; it marks Google’s foray into mainstream wearable computing. Offering wearable and hands-free online connection and interaction, it is supposed to give an augmented reality to the user. Information relevant to the users’ location and immediate surroundings will appear in front of them at their prompting.

The prototype was revealed in April 2012 and the completed product is estimated to be released to consumers in 2014. However, some developers will be receiving theirs earlier in 2013, allowing them time to create apps or programs for it. This group of very early adopters paid $1500 for the privilege though. Insiders say that in terms of cost, the glasses are expected to be in the same price range as most smartphones currently available.

General specifications of Google Glass have also been revealed. The display will probably be made of a transparent LCD or AMOLED display in front of the eyes. It will also be equipped with a GPS, motion sensors, a camera, and will have voice input and output as well. Online connection will be available via 3G or 4G. The battery is built-in inside the frame, and the group behind the project is working on designs that users will be able to wear over their eyeglasses if they have them. While Google Glass is envisioned as a stand-alone device and does not need to be connected to a phone, users will be able to connect it to a smartphone via Bluetooth 4.0 or Wi-Fi.

Aside from having the best specialists and scientists working on it, development of Google Glass has the backing of Google’s deep pockets and resources. However, some people remain hesitant to show much excitement. Some people say that the screen is too small to appreciate the videos the device will be showing. Others think that there will be difficulty in the device’s response to voice commands, especially if it will be used outdoors with a lot of ambient noise.

Even if the product is a success, some people are not keen on its application and utility. Knowing that this is a Google product, the thought of ads popping up whenever you look at something – like pop up screens following you wherever you go – is a huge turn off. Privacy concerns have also been raised as Google may record and store everything you see and do.

Google is not the only one making such product though. In July 2012, it was reported that Apple had filed for a patent for what looks like a competing product, calling it a high resolution “portable heads-up display.” It was actually Apple’s second filed patent for such a device. In 2009, the company filed a patent for what it called a “peripheral treatment for head-mounted displays.”

Also, Apple is not the only competitor that Google should watch out for. The New York-based augmented reality specialist, Vuzix, also announced that its “M100 smart glasses” is in the works. The M100 prototype was actually launched earlier in January 2012. Vuzix said that their device will be equipped with a camera, 4GB flash memory, GPS, and will have Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity. It will run on Android, and users can view email, text messages, and videos, as well as download apps.

With all the competition for making these overly high-tech eyeglasses, the question is whether consumers will catch on and scramble to stores once they become available? Will smartphones be obsolete by 2014? Only time can tell.