Google Magic Spectacles 'Augment Reality'

Dennis Faas's picture

Google has formally confirmed a poorly kept secret: it's working on 'augmented reality spectacles': glasses that display computer-driven text or images on top of a view of the real world. 

However, there's no sign the company will release the spectacles for commercial use in the foreseeable future.

Unlike 3D viewing spectacles, or those designed to simulate a giant screen, the Google glasses are relatively low-key. 

They are much like an ordinary spectacle frame without corrective lenses, but with a microphone and a tiny screen visible only to the wearer's right eye. (Source:

The screen appears to be transparent, so wearers' can still have a full-range of binocular vision. However, the screen makes it possible for them also to see displays provided by a computer.

An introductory video from Google suggests some of the ways this technology could be used, for example, by having relevant information pop-up on the tiny display screen.

Voice Activation Not Entirely Explained

The microphone appears to be intended to enable some kind of hands-free interaction with the computer. 

One video demonstration clip shows the wearer receiving a meeting request on-screen and responding to it by voice. 

Google offers no indication of how the prototype system distinguishes between ordinary speech and remarks intended to be an instruction to the computer. 

It's possible that a control button on the spectacles might solve this problem.

Perhaps the most useful idea shown for the new device is an implementation of Google Maps for pedestrian navigation. 

Such technology could provide a more effective way of navigating city streets than regularly consulting a smartphone. (Source:

Advertising Could Ruin Experience

Google's video demonstration doesn't address two obvious drawbacks, either.

First, somebody will try to build advertising into a system like this, and beaming ads directly into your eyeball from a centimeter or so away could be quite annoying. 

Second, people who actually need corrective spectacles might have problems trying to use this technology.

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