Baidu Eye: Chinese search giant plans Google Glass competitor

April 3, 2013
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Update: TechCrunch says the Baidu Eye news was somewhat of an April Fool’s joke gone wild, although the technology itself is real. Baidu is doing internal testing on wearable tech, although developers are not exactly sure whether it will hit the market. Hat tip to Erick for pointing out the update.

Google isn’t exactly the biggest name in search in all corners of the world. In China, Google is practically a minority, especially given the government’s ban on some services, thanks to the so-called “Great Firewall of China.” Baidu takes the top spot in search in China, with more than 70% user base. Google has a mere 3% or so.

Baidu even has a latent mobile OS project based on Android, which is Baidu Yi. While we have not seen significant traction in this area, Baidu seems to be taking cues from Google when it comes to mobile development. Case in point: Baidu also wants to develop its own Google Glass counterpart.

Photo credit: Sina Tech

Photo credit: Sina Tech

Baidu’s device will be called “Baidu Eye,” and industry insiders report that the prototype device is as functional and extensible as Google Glass, reports Sina Tech. The prototype has an LCD display (likely to be projected through a prism), voice-controlled image recognition, and even a bone-conduction earpiece technology similar to Google Glass’ own.

Baidu Eye will support gesture controls, voice commands for doing basic web searches and placing calls. Baidu is also reportedly working with Qualcomm to produce chips that will power the device. The company is said to be aiming to extend Baidu Eye’s battery life to 12 hours. By contrast, while Google wants Glass to last a full day, real-world testing of early prototypes get users about six hours of use.

TechinAsia has some interesting perspectives on Baidu Eye, though. Given the Chinese government’s propensity for censorship and secrecy, Baidu Eye might make an even bigger issue in terms of privacy and media controls — even bigger than it is in America for Google Glass. Right now, advocacy groups are looking to have Google Glass banned because of potential threats to privacy. Would the Chinese government have the same reaction against the potential implications of having everyone record — and the broadcast — just about any event in the public (and private) eye with their Glass-like devices?

What’s clear at this point is that wearable devices are in fashion today, with Google building enough interest in Glass, Apple rumored to have an “iWatch” coming soon, and other companies like Baidu launching their own efforts. After smartphones and tablets, are connected watches, glasses and other accessories coming to the limelight soon?

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