Google Augmented Reality Glasses Expected by Year’s End
By Daniel Ionescu
PCWorldFeb 22, 2012 7:56 am PST
Google is working on pair of augmented reality glasses running on Android, set for release later this year, according to the New York Times, which quoted unnamed company employees. The glasses are meant to work like a heads-up-display that analyzes and displays information for the wearer, priced somewhere between $250 and $600.
The glasses will have a built-in low-resolution camera that will look at what the wearer is seeing and then overlay information about nearby buildings and friends — a bit like the glasses in the Terminator movies. They’re not designed for constant wear though, more like a smartphone, used when needed. Google is also apparently not thinking about potential business models, as the glasses are more of an experiment.
The Google glasses are reportedly based on Android and will also have a 3G or 4G data connection along with several sensors, including GPS and motion. Earlier reports on the technology from 9 To 5 Google also indicate there will be a few buttons on the arms of the glasses, but otherwise, they could be mistaken with regular thick-rimmed eyewear, similar to Oakley’s Thump sunglasses with a built-in MP3 player.
It appears there will be only one display in the glasses (for one eye), which won’t be transparent. The navigation system sounds interesting: you would be able to scroll and clock through menus by tilting your head — but this could be quite weird when you are in a public space, navigating through the glasses menus, tilting your head back and forth.
Some other reported technology in the glasses would be Google Latitude to share location and the Goggles service to search images and identify what the wearer is looking at, while Maps would show you things nearby. Unlike smartphones, the results from these searches would be overlaid on top of the real-time video feed from the glasses camera (augmented reality), but it’s still unclear whether the glasses would be an independent gadget, or if they would be tied to a smartphone for data connectivity, which wouldn’t require a separate data plan for your smart glasses.
Depending on the design of the Google glasses, they could be quite an exciting development, but there are still several unanswered questions. How long will the battery last? Will the glasses need a separate data plan? Will people look silly wearing them and nodding their head in a corner to navigate menus?
There are also several privacy implications that the Times said Google was still trying to figure out, stemming from the camera on the glasses and people’s right to know if they are recorded — but Google has a bit of time to iron these issues out, before the product reportedly ships.