Google's "Project Glass" – Augmented Reality For Your Face
April 5, 2012

Google’s “Project Glass” – Augmented Reality For Your Face

Brett Smith for

Just as you were starting to get used to seeing people on the street talking to someone who isn´t there and not thinking they´re crazy-- Google unveils Project Glass. If Google´s augmented-reality eyewear makes its way onto the heads of everyday folk, we might be seeing people react to things on the street that aren´t there.

This week, Google posted a video and images on their Google+ site that shows a how lens-less set of frames fitted with a tiny screen might allow wearers to see incoming text messages, video phone calls, and weather forecasts.

Developers also put a statement on the site that said they had unveiled this developing technology with the intent of sparking a discussion around what could be an entirely new market within a few years.

“We´re sharing this information now because we want to start a conversation and learn from your valuable input,” the statement said. “So we took a few design photos to show what this technology could look like and created a video to demonstrate what it might enable you to do.”

Comments on the page ranged from the overwhelmingly positive “Wow. Just wow,” to those in disbelief, “Is this another April fool´s joke? You're a few days late.”

According to the video, the glasses integrate the many services Google already provides with technology that is widely available. Voice recognition software allows the user to send and receive texts. A mounted camera can take photos that can then be uploaded to Google+. GPS technology provides the ability to locate friends and get direction via Google Maps.

Several patents have been filed that suggest Google isn´t the only player in the future of nose-top computing. Apple patented a “head mounted display system” in 2008 that mentions “laser images“¦ that can be viewed by a user of the head mounted display apparatus.”

In March, Patent Bolt reported Microsoft has been developing headset technology since September 2010. According to patent records, Microsoft has been working two styles of headsets. The first relates to helmet-style apparatus aimed at Xbox gamers while the second resembles a pair of eyeglasses that could be used with mobile devices.

The prospect of smart glasses raises several ethical and social concerns surrounding such a device. Would users be able to take pictures and video undetected in any location? Would they be allowed in the classroom, the courtroom, or in the workplace? Some of these concerns have already been addressed by various cell phone policies currently in place, but eyewear, especially prescription eyewear, could complicate that issue.

The Google+ page about Project Glass suggests that the technology is still being developed and won´t be available anytime soon, but a February New York Times story said Google might have heads-up display glasses available “by year´s end.”  In that story, Nick Bilton cites unnamed Google sources that said “the glasses will go on sale to the public by the end of the year. These people said they are expected ℠to cost around the price of current smartphones,´ or $250 to $600.”

Google has previously revealed details of futuristic concepts years before they are ready for market, including a car that drives itself.