By Barry Levine / CIO Today. Updated April 04, 2012.
Having organized a big chunk of the world's information, Google is now getting ready to layer that information over your reality. On Wednesday, the technology giant confirmed that it has been working on developing a lightweight headset that allows the user to access the Web's information as an overlay on one's view of the world.
Called Project Glass and based inside the secretive Google X research division, the initiative is now making public a concept video of a pair of glass-less glasses frames that contain a transparent display over one eye. The video is posted on the new Project Glass page on Google+, called "Project Glass: One Day..." It gives an idea of what life might be like in a world with seamless access to information, sharing and communication, where smartphone-like features are integrated with one's everyday vision.
By End of 2012?
The headset includes a display, a camera and a microphone. Although the headset is currently only a concept and a video visualization, Google is making public the fact that a development project is under way.
According to a report in The New York Times in February, Google is intending to launch an Android-based, heads-up display product, possibly in the form of this kind of lightweight headset, by year's end. However, there recently have been indications from Google that such a timeframe for the launch is unlikely, and that the purpose of the new Google+ page and video is to receive feedback on the concept.
According to reports on the Web, the price for the product would be comparable to a smartphone. Since smartphones can range from $150 to $600, the price range appears to be fairly wide at the moment.
Essentially, the headset acts as a super-smartphone, but without the smartphone. It would apparently include a 3G/4G connection, GPS, voice recognition, and possibly other sensors, in addition to a camera, audio output and miniature display.
In the video, a young man sees calendar alerts for the day in his field of vision. During a walk through Manhattan to a meeting, he tells the headset to photograph a wall poster and send it to his circles of friends -- which it obediently does. A video phone call opens in a small window in his field of vision, and he can receive informational feeds throughout his walk, such as weather reports.
The headset also displays map information, turn-by-turn navigation, a book store layout, a notice that a subway stop is closed, and other geographical data that is available from Google Maps and other sources -- all at the proper location, and all in the user's field of vision.
Interaction is driven through voice commands, or tapping an appropriate button on the headset's frame, and, in the video, the headset displays an extraordinary understanding of location and context.
According to news reports, Google X has also developed a contact lens with a built-in display, which could become part of Project Glass. Contact lenses that help monitor a user's health was the subject of a research paper by Babak Amir Parviz, one of the three Google researchers listed on the Project Glass posting.