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Google Smart Glasses Are Real and Coming Soon

February 23, 2012

Wondering what the mad geniuses at Google have been cooking up in the secretive Google X labs in Mountain View? How about some nifty smart glasses, Terminator-style?

A New York Times report claims that the rumored Google glasses, smart eyewear that integrate mobile technology and a heads-up-display (HUD), are indeed real, and are coming later this year. The report, which cites the customary anonymous sources inside Google, is full of juicy details, including a price range that is close to the cost of current smartphones ($250 to $600), some technical specs, and insight into Google’s plans for the new device.

Who needs smartphones when you have smart glasses?

According to 9 to 5 Google’s Seth Weintraub, who first wrote about Google’s secret project back in December, the smart glasses will look like regular eyewear, but will include a small, non-transparent screen in one of the lenses. The tiny screen will display information in an augmented reality (AR) view (remember Terminator?), in other words, it will be superimposed on the user’s field of view, rather than displayed in a separate “window”.

The glasses will also integrate a camera that will be used for AR apps, but it will also take pictures and maybe even record video. The user will be able to navigate the HUD interface using subtle head tilts, which tells us that the gadget will integrate a gyro or other type of motion sensor. Most likely, the device will also listen and talk back to you, a la Siri (Apple, dust off those patents).

Speaking of sensors, the smart glasses will also integrate a GPS receiver, which will play nicely with Latitude, Google’s mapping/location service. Moreover, the device will be Android-based and might come with Google Maps, Google Goggles (think visual search), and possibly other services.

How will all that technology fit in the relatively small rim of a pair of glasses? Weintraub has written in the past that the smart glasses will look  like a pair of Oakley Thumps. So, yes, you will be able to wear them without causing people to call the police.

The next paradigm in computing or just a gimmick?

Last week, our Lucian Armasu wrote that the smart glasses may signal then next big shift in computing paradigms. The smartphone era is in full swing, but Google’s device may be pioneering the next generation of computers – the wearable ones. In a side note, Apple is working on some type of wearable device too, so expect other developments in the area to follow.

But will the smart glasses gain enough traction? Will regular people “click” with this new, and rather intrusive (for the standards of someone born in the 20th century), type of using a computer? The potential is there, and judging from the Web’s reaction to the news, the Google smart glasses might be The Next Big Thing. But there’s no telling how the average public will react. We’ll have to wait and see.

For now, we know that the smart glasses project is headed by Sergey Brin himself, who is reportedly spending most of his time at Google X. Let’s hope that, with such powerful tutelage, the smart glasses will take a central place in Google’s showcase of successful products.