Google Introduces Project Glass

By April 4, 2012

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Google officially announced a widely-rumored device today which incorporates a visual overlay with Internet connectivity and augmented reality technology.

Project Glass, which is in development at the mysterious Google X laboratory, takes a form akin to a pair of glasses, and will likely run a form of the Android operating system. The technology will enter a testing phase, with Google employees using them in public places, though it is not clear at what point they are likely to enter the consumer market.

“We’re sharing this information now because we want to start a conversation and learn from your valuable input,” reads the announcement. “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.”

A forward-facing camera will play an important part in the design, with a promotional video demonstrating a “view share” mode that shows a video chat partner the approximate perspective of the Project Glass user.

The promotional video for the project shows a hip young man going about his day from a first-person perspective, with voice-activated overlays ostensibly generated by the glasses helping get directions, make notes and engage in a video chat with his girlfriend.

In contrast to early reports that the augmented reality glasses would be bulky, photos released today show a lightweight design akin to some wraparound sunglasses. Multiple physical designs are being considered, according to the New York Times’ Nick Bilton, who also draws attention to the possibility of further miniaturization into a contact lens-like form factor with emerging technologies.

In a move likely intended to head off ridicule at the notion of awkward cyborgs walking around mumbling while they check email and weather forecasts in public spaces, the company has presented the headset as a device that augments technology, and mitigates the need for a larger assortment of mobile electronics.

It’s not yet clear how or if the device will interface with the tablet Google likely intends to market directly to consumers, in a move seemingly placing them more directly in competition with Apple.

Image: Google