People who constantly reach into a pocket to check a smartphone for bits of information will soon have another option: a pair of Google-made glasses that will be able to stream information to the wearer’s eyeballs in real time. It’s not as sci-fi as it sounds. There is already a free app in the Android app store called Google Goggles that provides all sorts of reality augmentation based on visual input from a smart phone’s camera.
The new Google glasses will be Android-based, and will include a small screen that will sit a few inches from someone’s eye, presumably with a magnifier so you don’t get massive eye strain. . They’ll will also have a 3G or 4G data connection and a number of sensors including motion and GPS – add wifi to that and you’ve got a device about as complex as a smart phone, and it’s expected to cost about as much as one. Some sources inside Google have described their appearance as being close to a pair of Oakley Thumps.
They will also have a unique navigation system, based mostly on head tilts and gestures. The glasses will have a low-resolution built-in camera that will be able to monitor the world in real time and overlay information about locations, surrounding buildings and friends who might be nearby, according to the Google employees. The glasses are not designed to be worn constantly — although Google expects some of the nerdiest users will wear them a lot — but will be more like smartphones, used when needed.
There are privacy implications – how do you know if you’re being recorded if somebody near you is wearing a pair? The Google X team working on the glasses wants to ensure that people have some way to tell.
One Google employee said the glasses would tap into a number of Google software products that are currently available and in use today, but will display the information in an augmented reality view, rather than as a Web browser page like those that people see on smartphones.
The glasses will send data to the cloud and then use things like Google Latitude to share location, Google Goggles to search images and figure out what is being looked at, and Google Maps to show other things nearby, the Google employee said. “You will be able to check in to locations with your friends through the glasses,” they added. This, however, means that they’ll only work in places with good 3G or 4G coverage, and right now there aren’t many of those despite the claims of the various cell carriers. It’s just as well, then, that Google hasn’t really figured out a business model for marketing these glasses yet. It’s more of a “let’s build the thing and see what people use it for” arrangement, and that gives the carriers time to beef up the 4G-LTE networks and solve the ridiculous pay-per-megabyte data plans we’re currently saddled with now.
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