|Report: Wearable Android Google Goggles Will Debut in 2012 for Under $600|
Jason Mick (Blog) - February 22, 2012 11:30 AM
Glasses will cost about as much as a smartphone, alert you when friends are nearby, look like Oakley Thumps
Since Seth Weintraub of 9 to 5 Google first leaked news of "Google Glasses" in December, a steady trickle of information on the top secret project has been filtering out.
I. Meet the Google Glasses
Not to be confused with the infamous "Google Goggles", which helps unscrupulous users avoid drunken emails, the new project looks to offer unique differentiation for Google Inc.'s ( GOOG) Android by taking wearable electronics and augmented reality to the next level. The New York Times is citing "several Google employees" as saying the glasses are not only the real deal, but are very near to market.
Nick Bilton writes in the "Bits" blog:
[T]he 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.
The glasses would be packed with motion sensors for navigation (more on that in a minute) and GPS sensors. They would use a 3G or 4G connection. And they would come with a small glasses-mounted screen, which would site inches away from the eye.
The literal "retina display" equipped glasses are described to resemble Oakley's Thumps. They would be released as a stand-alone Android device, though it is possible that Google could bake in a connection to your traditional handset via local Wi-Fi or 3G routing, as well.
Oakley Thumps [Image Source: Oakley via 9-to-5 Google]
II. Are Wearable Electronics Ready for Primetime?
In a recent update Mr. Weintraub writes about the glasses' unique system input system:
The navigation system currently used is a head tilting to scroll and click. We are told it is very quick to learn and once the user is adept at navigation, it becomes second nature and almost indistinguishable to outside users.
The glasses will offer walking directions to users. They also come with a low-resolution camera, which will view the current perspective and overlay information on it, such as landmarks or alerts that one of your friends in the area.
Of course, this wildly excited connected futurist vision comes at a price, as you'll essentially be video-taping random strangers on the street. Google is reportedly well aware of these issues and is working out the privacy aspects of the new electronics devices.
Google sees taking augmented reality from the phone to the world of wearable electronics as a major next step for the technology. [Image Source: Google via The New York Times]
The glasses are reportedly being built at Google's "Bat Cave" of sorts, the Google X Labs, located just off the main Google campus. The New York Times describes the staff involved, writing:
One of the key people involved with the glasses is Steve Lee, a Google engineer and creator of the Google mapping software, Latitude. As a result of Mr. Lee’s involvement, location information will be paramount in the first version released to the public, several people who have seen the glasses said. The other key leader on the glasses project is Sergey Brin, Google’s co-founder, who is currently spending most of his time in the Google X labs.
Google reportedly is thinking of the devices as a public "experiment", not an immediate profit opportunity. Thus, like many of its services -- Google Books, Google Maps, etc. -- it is using its unusual model of " design first, worry about monetization later". Thus far that model has served Google well and propelled it to billions in profit.
Potentially assisting in the project will be the company's new top-secret $120M USD "precision optical technology" testing facility, first revealed by the San Jose Mercury News. The facility will reportedly come with advanced radio frequency-proofed buildings, and will be a hotbed for testing advanced materials such as rare gases and optical coatings.
III. Universities, Competitors Preparing Unique Augmented Reality Visions
Outside of Google, researchers are working to bake display electronics onto contact lenses, raising the possibility of less-bulky future augment reality devices. The devices could eventually provide HUD readouts similar to those depicted in the dystopian science fiction Terminator franchise.
"Terminator Vision" as depicted in 1991's Terminator 2: Judgement Day
[Image Source: James Cameron/Tri-Star Pictures]
Apple, Inc. ( AAPL), Google's key mobile competitor, is reportedly going a different route. It's looking to build 3G-connected watch-like devices (wrist-worn). Apple is in the midst of its own construction push, looking to construct a gleaming new "spaceship"-like headquarters -- one of the final projects of late company co-founder and CEO Steven P. Jobs.Sources: The New York Times, 9-to-5 Google , , San Jose Mercury News