Project Glass is an R&D program by Google aimed to make wearable computing mainstream. While Google scientists have been hammering away on the idea at the Google X labs for a couple of years, the concept was formally launched this April through a fancy video showcasing a colourful heads up display with notifications and other contextual information hovering directly in wearers’ line of sight. The glasses in the video are also shown to be equipped with a video camera, voice input and output and satellite navigation in addition to normal phone and message functions.
As per Google, the glasses will run on Android OS and will have a small screen in front of the eye, motion sensors, GPS and a 3G or 4G data connection. It will be a stand-alone device communicating directly with the cloud. Since the original video launch in April, a lot of questions have been raised regarding the achievability of such a device using current imaging technology. Blair MacIntyre, director of the Augmented Environments Lab at Georgia Tech said “you could not do [augmented reality] with a display like this.” MIT Media Lab researcher Pranav Mistry suggested that “the small screen seen in the photos cannot give the experience the video is showing.” Google has accepted that limitations do exist and that its photos “show what this technology could look like” and its video demonstrates “what it might enable you to do”.
Whether Project Glass is a vision of the future is hard to predict just now. The idea behind the project is to deliver augmented reality in front of you with information that’s directly relevant to your surroundings. For example, your glasses might tell you what movies are showing at the cinema you are visiting tonight, provide movie ratings and reviews, book your seats, invite your friends and show how to get there as well.
As far as the look and feel of the product is concerned, the prototypes look nothing like the dorky, geeky image that would be associated to augmented reality glasses. Google has already filed potential designs for Project Glass with the US Patent Office, providing a glimpse of what future versions could look like. The patents (one, two, three) show the first example of Project Glass for the end-users.
Top executives at Google have been regularly seen wearing different prototype models and the team at Project Glass has recently posted pictures and a 15-sec video taken by one of the prototypes during the Google+ Photographers conference.
The release date for Project Glass has not been announced as yet though conservative estimates from various Google sources have hinted at end of 2013.The fact that Google employees are testing out the device’s capabilities does mean that we should see them come to market fairly soon.