Smartphones? So 2011! Google gives heads-up vision of the future


posted Wednesday, April 4, 2012 at 2:38 PM EDT

One of Google's software engineers showing off the Project Glass augmented-reality glasses. Photo provided by Google.For a while now, rumors have swirled that tech giant Google was working on its first wearable computing device. Today, the company confirmed the truth in these rumors--and true it must be, because April Fool's is well and truly over--showing off an early prototype of its augmented-reality glasses, developed under the codename "Project Glass".

Although the rumor mill predicted something akin to Oakley's chunky-looking, now-discontinued Thump MP3 glasses, the prototype is perhaps--we're trying to be polite here--not quite as fashionable. We'd imagine that by final production, Project Glass will look a little more discrete, at least if Google is hoping for widespread adoption. As is, identifying the tech-lover in your life by the curious glassless frame with its tiny glass panel on one side would be an easy affair, even if they weren't continually glancing up and to the right to look at the heads-up display.

Google's Project Glass concept video.
Video provided by Google / YouTube

Leaving that aside, though, the idea is certainly interesting. In a YouTube concept video , the company suggests a heads-up display with voice interaction, able  to perform simple tasks such as displaying maps, checking the weather and traffic info,  or checking in on Google Plus (no word about Facebook or Twitter yet, perhaps not surprisingly). It also shows a voice-activated camera function, and the ability to wirelessly stream video from the glasses to a third party. The camera function in the concept video is reminiscent of the iPhone's Siri tool; an image is captured as the glasses' wearer says "Take a photo of this". Could Google replace Apple's personal assistant with the personal assistant / photographer, perhaps? 

Since it's only a prototype, there's no real information on specifications of the glasses, let alone on pricing and availability. We'd imagine camera-wise that something akin to a mid-range smartphone would be likely, so you won't be replacing your dedicated camera any time soon. That's not really the goal, however: Google's concept for the future looks more intended to replace smartphones, rather than to serve as a high-quality imaging device. Will they succeed in that goal? Only time will tell...

More details on the Project Glass page on Google+.

Google's Project Glass prototype, demonstrated by model Emily Photo provided by Google. Click for a bigger picture!

Google's Project Glass prototype, demonstrated by model Emily
Photo provided by Google.