Google takes wraps off Web-based digital glasses

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A prototype for ”Google Glasses” are shown in this publicity photo released to Reuters on April 4, 2012. The Internet search giant on Wednesday took the wraps off a project to create digital ”augmented reality” glasses designed to take photos, display directions and let the wearer have video-chats with friends, among other things.


REUTERS: Google Inc is getting into the eyewear business with a pair of thin wraparound shades that puts the company’s Web services in your face.

The experimental “augmented reality” glasses – from the same team that is developing self-driven cars – can snap photos, initiate videochats and display directions at the sound of a user’s voice.
The prototype digital glasses, unveiled on the company’s Google+ social network on Wednesday, are still being tweaked and tested, and are not available in stores yet.

“We’re sharing this information now because we want to start a conversation and learn from your valuable input,” Google wrote in a post on a Google+ page devoted to Project Glass.
The spectacles are being developed by Google, the secretive group working on advanced research projects such as self-driving cars.

The Google+ page featured a 2-1/2 minute video, shot from the perspective of someone wearing the glasses. The wearer goes about his day walking through New York City while speaking commands to the glasses to do things such as take a photo and post it to Google+, get block-by-block directions and weather conditions and get a pop-up alert when a friend is nearby.

The Google posting is intended to show “what this technology could look like,” the company said. Mock-up images of the glasses on the Google+ page depict a stamp-sized digital display that seems attached to a pair of glasses and sits at the top corner of one of the lenses.

The post asks people to submit their suggestions for what they would like to see in the glasses.
Google, the world’s No. 1 search engine, is famous for letting its employees work on ambitious projects that don’t always have a direct relation to its business.

Those projects have not always sat well with investors, who worry about Google’s spending on projects with uncertain returns.
Google Chief Executive Larry Page has cut down on many of the projects and products underway at the company since taking the reins a year ago. But he has defended Google’s commitment to working on “speculative” projects that could one day turn into “billion-dollar businesses,” though he has stressed the company isn’t “betting the farm” on such efforts.

The glasses could provide a way for Google to more closely entwine its advertising-supported online services, including Web searches, maps and email, into people’s daily lives.

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