Project Glass


Project Glass is a research and development program by Google to develop an augmented reality head-mounted display (HMD). The intended purpose of Project Glass products would be the hands free displaying of information currently available to most smartphone users, and allowing for interaction with the Internet via natural language voice commands, in a manner which has been compared to the iPhone feature Siri.

The functionality and physical appearance (minimalist design of the aluminium strip with 2 nose pads) has been compared to the EyeTap (developed by Steve Mann at the University of Toronto), which was also referred to as ‘Glass’ (‘EyeTap Digital Eye Glass’). Though head-worn displays for augmented reality are not a new idea, the project has drawn media attention primarily due to its backing by Google, as well as the prototype, which is smaller and slimmer than previous designs for head-mounted displays.

The first Project Glass demo resembles a pair of normal eyeglasses where the lens is replaced by a heads-up display. In the future, new designs may allow integration of the display into people’s normal eyewear. The product (Google Glass Explorer Edition) will be available to developers for $1,500, shipping early in 2013, while a consumer version is slated to be ready within a year of that.

Project Glass is part of the Google X Lab (a secret facility thought to be located in Northern California) which has worked on other futuristic technologies, such as a self-driving car, a space elevator, a neural network that uses semi-supervised learning to recognize pictures of cats, and the Web of Things (objects that contain an embedded device or computer, integrating them into the Web).

Project Glass was announced on Google+ by Babak Parviz, an electrical engineer who has also worked on putting displays into contact lenses; Steve Lee, a project manager and ‘geolocation specialist’; and Sebastian Thrun, who developed Udacity (a private educational organization with the stated goal of democratizing education) as well as worked on the self-driving car project.

The product began testing in 2012. Sergey Brin wore a prototype set of glasses to a Foundation Fighting Blindness event in San Francisco. He demoed the glasses at a Google conference where skydivers and mountain bikers wore the glasses and live streamed their point of view to a Google+ Hangout, which was also shown live at the presentation. Despite the generally positive reception for the prototype, there have been numerous parodies and criticisms aimed at the general notion of augmented reality glasses, ranging from the potential for Google to insert advertising (its main source of revenue) to more dystopian outcomes.


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