Google ‘to unveil’ hi-tech Google Glasses that put a screen of information over the world?December 21, 2011
In addition to our article on: “is Google Goggles ready for augmented reality” of December 7th.
Gossip about the goings-on inside Google’s secret ‘Google X’ lab – the ‘blue sky ideas’ department where the company’s engineers come up out-there products – included the idea of ‘wearable computing’.
Until this week, most had assumed that meant hi-tech watches running Google’s Android phone operating system.
Now it seems the search giant may be working on a much more exciting technology – computer glasses with transparent screens that superimpose information on the real world.
‘They are in late prototype stages of wearable glasses that look similar to thick-rimmed glasses that normal people wear,’ reported Google specialist Seth Weintraub on 9to5Google, reporting information from an unnamed source at the search giant.
The technology is reported to be an ‘open secret’.
‘However, these provide a display with a heads up computer interface. There are a few buttons on the arms of the glasses, but otherwise, they could be mistaken for normal glasses.’ Weintraub reported that Google had recently employed MIT wearable computing specialist Richard DuVal, whose PhD was entitled The Memory Glasses.Various prototype transparent screens have been demonstrated by companies such as Samsung, so the idea is not as out-there as it sounds.
The glasses will run a version of Google’s Android – which ties in with reports in the New York Times about the company’s ambition to export its popular phone operating system to wearable computers.
In glasses, though, Google’s Android search box – which already uses GPS to find nearby ‘answers’ to searches – could be even more powerful.
Instead of having to look in the mapping application to ‘see’ where things are, the information could simply be layered on top. With Google working on a voice-control system similar to Apple’s Siri, such devices could do away with the need for a touchscreen at all.
Google has already admitted to the existence of a secret laboratory – described as ‘Google X’ – where scientists work on wild, out-there ideas. Most Google employees are not even aware the lab exists. ‘Google has always invested in speculative R&D projects – it’s part of our DNA,’ said a spokesperson.
‘While the possibilities are incredibly exciting, the sums involved are very small by comparison to the investments we make in our core businesses. In terms of details, we don’t comment on speculation.’
The lab is reportedly located in Google’s Mountain View, California headquarters – known as ‘the Googleplex’.
Engineers are free to work on projects such as connected fridges that order groceries when they run low – or even tableware that can connect to social networks. Other Google engineers have reportedly researched ideas as far-out as elevators to space.
Google co-founder Sergey Brin is reportedly deeply involved in the lab. It’s known, for example, that his business card is simply a piece of silvery metal decorated with the letter X.
Brin, a robot enthusiast, once attended a conference via a robot with a screen showing his face. It’s not unusual for tech companies to have ‘ideas labs’ hidden away from their ordinary workers – at Apple, for instance, Jonathan Ive’s design lab where devices such as iPads are perfected, is guarded as if it was a weapons facility.
Google X, though, is far less conservative than Ive’s design lab.
The lab is reportedly investigating the idea of people ‘working from home’ via robots with screens for ‘faces’ – an idea also being tested by legendary game developer Richard Garriott. It’s not alien to the company – which also has a fleet of self-driving cars that have clocked up more than 100,000 miles on Californian roads so far.
Google is now rumoured to be readying the ‘self drive’ vehicles for sale.
Famously, Google always allowed engineers ’20 per cent time’ – a portion of their working hours devoted to more experimental projects.
While Google ‘culled’ 10 of its less successful experimental projects earlier this year, and also got rid of its ‘Labs’ section, where ordinary users could test experimental products, some thought that the company was focusing on its ‘core’ business, and eliminating its more zany ideas.