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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
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 augmented reality
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
"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 [1], [2], San Jose Mercury News



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RE: Reminds of .....
By JasonMick (blog) on 2/22/2012 1:23:01 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
...the IKEA catalogue scene in Fight Club

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dN8vyO8ILD8

I think watching little adverts appear all around you all the time will be awesome ;)

Ha, awesome.

This is quite possibly my favorite post of yours I've ever read, aside from your post on the Clash in the BB thread. :)

Palahniuk's book was great and I was prepared to be disappointed by the movie. While -- like V is for Vendetta -- the movie went somewhat soft on the terrorism/anarchy aspects given that visual depictions tend to be more provocative then print ones, I thought otherwise it was a remarkably good adaptation that had a lot of flare of its own, like the scene you just linked to.

Good movie, the book is definitely one of the more classic tales of the last 20 years.


RE: Reminds of .....
By Tony Swash on 2/22/2012 5:17:04 PM , Rating: 1
I love the way that the mask from the film version of V for Vendetta is now used by the Occupy protesters everywhere. I am waiting for a political party that will be brave enough to release it's election manifesto as a graphic novel.


RE: Reminds of .....
By GulWestfale on 2/22/2012 6:18:08 PM , Rating: 2
so... i hope there will be an adblocker for my glasses. but what if it blocks more than just ads? will i have to take off my 600 dollar 'reality' glasses to actually see, um, reality? heaven forbid!

but no amount of electronically-enhanced optical clarity -or lack thereof- could ever bring dear tony back into the reality the rest of us live in.


RE: Reminds of .....
By tastyratz on 2/23/2012 2:25:04 PM , Rating: 2
But do you see the irony in all the protests where Warner Brothers gets a cut of every mask sold? Yup... the big media being protested is literally profiting from the protestors there.


RE: Reminds of .....
By mcnabney on 2/24/2012 9:50:39 AM , Rating: 2
I am more amused by the use of the image of a man who wanted to topple a secular and popularly elected governing body in favor of a Papal government ruled from Rome.


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