Google AR glasses prototype


Google will test augmented reality prototypes in public settings, the company said in a blog post in Tuesday.

Some prototypes will look like normal glasses and will be equipped with microphones and cameras, as well as transparent displays.

The new glasses are not yet a product and not available to the public, but Google wants to test applications such as real-time translation or displaying directions to the user inside the glasses, especially in environments like busy intersections.

The tests represent a significant advance in Google’s development of augmented reality, a technology that many in Silicon Valley believe could be as big a game-changer in computing as the smartphone and the PC before it. Augmented reality superimposes computer-generated images on top of the real world, unlike virtual reality, which fully immerses the viewer in an artificial world or “metaverse.”

By announcing plans for public testing, Google is also trying to head off privacy concerns that helped sink Google Glass, one of the first augmented reality devices, nearly a decade ago.

Google Glass was equipped with a front-facing camera, and critics worried that users were recording people without their permission. Glasses wearers have been given a derogatory nickname, and in 2014 a woman wearing glasses said she was assaulted in a bar in San Francisco. Ultimately, Google repurposed the glasses to focus on business customers rather than consumers.

“It’s early and we want to get this right, so we’re taking it slowly, with a strong focus on ensuring the privacy of testers and the people around them,” Google product manager Justin Payne wrote in a blog post about the new product.

“These research prototypes look like normal glasses, feature an in-lens display, and have audio and visual sensors, such as a microphone and camera,” Google said in a support page about testing.

The device features an LED light that turns on when the glasses are recording image data. Google says the glasses won’t record video or take photos for users to store and view later, but they can capture and use image data to perform functions like identifying objects or showing directions. Testers will not wear the glasses in schools, government buildings, healthcare facilities, churches, protests or other sensitive areas, Google said. Testing will be conducted by “several dozen Google employees and select trusted testers” and will take place somewhere in the US

Google unveiled its AR glasses at its developer conference in May with a focus on real-time speech translation so that a person can see a foreign language translated before their eyes. A Google employee called the glasses “subtitles for the world” during the presentation.

Google is competing fiercely with other tech giants, including Apple, Meta and Microsoft, to create the first next-generation augmented reality glasses. All four companies have invested billions in augmented reality software and hardware, hoping for a breakthrough that could enable a new computing platform, but current products have yet to be established.

“The magic will really come to life when you can use them in the real world without technology getting in the way,” Google CEO Sundar Pichai said at the announcement.

Apple is reportedly preparing to announce a mixed reality headset as early as next year. Meta has announced an advanced mixed reality headset that supports augmented reality features that will be released later this year. Microsoft’s Hololens is the most advanced augmented reality hardware on the market from a major tech company right now.

Previous articleRHEA Group’s research satellite completes payload for first UK launch
Next articleG-Core Labs strengthens LATAM presence by launching public cloud region in Sao Paulo