2012-02-21 20h30_27

You've got to hand it to Google. They don't let silly things like "feasibility" and "finances" get in the way of an awesome idea. The New York Times is reporting that Google is working on a set of glasses with the specs of a smartphone, including 3G and 4G data connectivity, GPS, a camera, and oh yeah, a heads-up display.


Not the actual display. We wish, though.

The glasses, which are supposedly under development at Google's not-so-secret Google X lab, would cost about as much as a smartphone, so they likely won't be for the light wallet. That being said, if they work as advertised, they could still sell plenty. The glasses would use the heads-up display to overlay the wearer's world with information, from descriptions of surrounding buildings to showing you where your friends are nearby via Latitude.

The glasses would be Android powered, which means that they would likely be able to make use of the Intents system, so you can count on integration with your other Android devices. Moreover, the glasses would have their own navigation system. Currently Google employees are testing a system of head tilts to scroll and click. We'll reserve judgment for how well this works in practice, but we're excited.

Integration into Google services, though, is the most exciting part. Google Goggles is already a killer system for identifying books, movies, monuments, logos, text, and even solving Sudoku puzzles. Imagine how much better it would be if that functionality were built right into your glasses and requires only a tilt of your head to activate? Not to mention being able to overlay reviews of restaurants or venues over the buildings themselves as you pass them on the street without lifting a finger.

The glasses are said to be available before the end of the year. Since it's only February, that gives Google plenty of time to change their minds. However, the NYT reports that internally Google isn't looking at potential business models, but sees the glasses as more of an experiment that anyone can join. If the experiment works, Google might start selling the glasses for real. This means Google doesn't really have much to lose by not releasing the glasses, so hopefully it will really happen.

Heads-up displays, and all augmented reality for that matter, has so far remained a pipe dream of the gadget-loving public. The tech exists, but it's still clunky and pretty difficult to use. We'd all like to have a HUD like Tony Stark's, but if they're not implemented well they can be more of a burden than a blessing. Here's hoping that Google will produce something that works really well. If consumers are expected to shell out several hundred dollars for a pair of glasses that are difficult to use, the experiment will obviously fail. Who knows how long it might be before we get our internet-infused optics on if that happens?

Source: The New York Times

Eric Ravenscraft
Eric is a snarky technophile with a taste for the unusual. When he's not obsessing about Android, you can usually find him obsessing about movies, psychology, or the perfect energy drink. Eric weaves his own special blend of snark, satire, and comedy into all his articles.

  • Kam

    or doc brown's visors from back to the future!!

  • James

    It's not going to be like a proper HUD though, I read it's going to be a small screen on one side that you can look to.

  • Jonathan Longoria

    Curious... but I'll probably bite if my pockets are lined with cash at that time.

  • sriracha

    uh, where do you put the extended battery? one can assume these won't be slim or discrete right off the bat. more like actual goggles. either way, i am very excited to see this come to the consumer.

    and what about the whole cell phone and brain cancer thing? aka, it's nota tumah!

    and i'd call them iGlasses, just for digs.

    • Kevin

      Umm...I would ASSume that the processor, battery, and radio would be in a separate pocket module attached via a cord - like a MP3 player.

      • sriracha

        yea, the internet has a way of sucking the humor out of a post. i'll turn the joke around and have it come by again. however, you came off loud and clear. see you next tuesday. :)

  • Evan

    I wants them!!!!!!!!!!!!! Those would be EPIC!!!!!! Even if they were buggy as hell to begin with they would still be epic

    • Evan

      Kinda late but had to say nice on the pic, Iron man is kinda awesome

  • Lon Lawrence

    Only the price of a good smartphone? that's cheap. I just paid full retail for a g-note and love it. I'm in... reserve a pair for me!

  • Anon

    What about for those of us with prescriptions?

    • http://gthing.net sam

      That's what I'm wondering. I doubt they'll accomodate us in the first phase, so it might be time to get eye surgery.

      Then again, if the glasses use standard lenses somehow, it may be possible to get some prescription ones put in.

    • Luly

      Wear your contacts then the glasses. ;)

    • Al McDowall

      I could be totally wrong here, but....

      Our eyes cannot naturally focus on very close objects, so the way I imagine these would work (similarly to other products already available) would be to have a lens between the screen and the eye. Obviously it would need to be very low profile, but if you imagine the classic image of a jeweler using an eyeglass to look at a diamond - like that but super discreet.

      If this is the case, there should be some space for adjustment of the distance between the lens and the screen, which should enable all people to use the glasses comfortably.

  • Dark

    I can see these being sold by providers in the future over cell phones. Of course they would be locked to the providers network, but you'll get that discounted price for signing a contract.

    On a side note, I so want one.

  • Rob Gooch

    I wonder how long before Apple puts a patent on them.

    • http://androidpolice.com/author/eric-ravenscraft Eric Ravenscraft

      Well, the glasses are supposed to come out some time this year, so we can probably expect the Apple patent some time in 2013.

    • Luly

      Man, you crack me up

  • Al McDowall

    I was thinking about this about a year ago but realised that I did not have the skill to do it myself, nor the money to pay someone else.

    A wearable display is potentially the best way to deliver 3D content. Given the way that Kinect is able to recognise bodies and limb positions, hands could be used to control the GUI via gestures.

    Imagine having a virtual screen showing a 3D movie. Within reason, you could make it as large as you wanted to, using gyros in the glasses to register pan and tilt as the wearer moves their head to look at a different area of the screen.

    The screen could occupy a position in virtual space, allowing the user to look away from it if they needed to, and see the real world.

    In my head, this then evolved into being able to use real world objects as markers and then doing some amazing augmented reality things. Games are an obvious possibility, but you could 'virtually' decorate a real-world space and share it with other users.

    I wish I could have done it myself, but I'm very glad that if anyone is having a go, it's Google.

  • Alex1x

    If its discreet enough to replace my glasses, you can count me in

  • http://ARMdevices.net Charbax

    It's based on the same idea as the Kopin Golden-i, currently being mass manufactured by Motorola Solutions (the part of Motorola Google isn't buying) for industrial use (people working in industry needing headmounted computing, preferably not carrying around a tablet or laptop). I actually showed it to Sergey Brin and Steve Lee and other Google X people at CES, here's a 27-minute demo of how it works: http://armdevices.net/2012/01/14/motorola-kopin-golden-i-at-the-verizon-booth-at-ces-2012/ and a bit about how I try to use it for augmented video-blogging: http://armdevices.net/2011/11/14/list-of-my-arm-powered-devices-used-for-video-blogging/

    The Google one I think is going to be more compact (just about foldable and to be put in ones pocket), run Android instead of Windows CE (industry needs Windows CE) thus having all the augmented reality apps available on the Android platform already such as Google+, Ustream uploader, augmented reality apps, Google Goggles etc. Getting this to work is mostly about software, the hardware is "just" a microdisplay from Kopin for example, at least 800x600 resolution, maybe 1024x768 up close to one of your eyes. It actually doesn't have to be glasses, making it sunglasses is just a better way to hide the hardware. But without glasses it can be made as small as a couple bluetooth headsets extractable from one of your ears when you want to use it. It's basically kind of like putting your phone up close to your eye, mostly with same processing and sensors as on your phone, and with this you are being hands free so you can more easily walk around, hold other things, do other stuff. Consider it like a dashboard to your lift, not as much as something you constantly look through, more like something you can glance down on when you need augmented info, otherwise just look with the other eye or straight ahead for a view without anything augmented.

  • Awesome Sauce

    Very cool. Im in the optical business and this could be the next big thing. The most "techy" glasses out now are by empower. They are a single vision lens that has an add appear when you lower your head to read or touch the slide of the glasses. Its very first generation but I would imagine this stuff will get better over time. Imagine having 2 of those samsung smart windows in frontof your eyes!!! Id never leave the house!!

  • Citrus Rain

    Before you know it, we'll have Torchwood's high-tech contact lenses.

    I reeaaallyy hope that these can be in glasses for near/far sightedness. Because 3D glasses show how terrible wearing 2 sets of glasses at once can be.

  • Matt

    This would be great for navigation on a motorcycle! Count me in if they would fit under a helmet!

  • http://www.academia-nutcrackers.com Sven Enterlein

    Reminds me of the Futurama episode Attack of the Killer App. The eyePhone :D

  • Mistiqe

    So the GooSpy will be extended with a live video feed... Awesome...

  • nejai

    this will be lot easier if just using helmet in public would be sociably acceptable, they even could throw some air conditioned in there... not kidding