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Google Begins Testing Its Augmented Reality Glasses (bits.blogs.nytimes.com)
477 points by nickbilton on Apr 4, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 288 comments



>“We’re sharing this information now because we want to start a conversation and learn from your valuable input,” the three employees wrote. “Please follow along as we share some of our ideas and stories. We’d love to hear yours, too. What would you like to see from Project Glass?”

Why would you ask that? This type of product is so different from what's available on the market that I doubt the Project Glass team would receive any type of suggestions they'd find useful.

That would be like Apple asking people "What do you want the iPhone to do?" before it was first released in 2007.

If you're creating the product, create it. Find the features you want it to have and research the features it needs to have. Asking the public "what do you want it to have" will not do anyone any favors. Decision by committee can be truly atrocious.


From a marketing perspective, it's a greater blunder still: asking people to think about what they'd want Glass to do it will quickly set expectations well beyond what's technologically feasible for an initial product. That and the wishful concept video almost guarantee the initial product will be a disappointment. And that's a damn shame, because given Google's talent, it'll nevertheless be a engineering feat of epic proportion.

That said, perhaps Google doesn't care about releasing perfectly marketed hit products a la Apple. If wearable computers catch on that make it easier to check-in to the places you go and +1 the stuff you like, they'll make tons more money from useful targeted ads than units of hardware shipped, just as they do now.


"And that's a damn shame, because given Google's talent, it'll nevertheless be a engineering feat of epic proportion."

You know, I have respect for the people Google employs - they are certainly a very talented bunch. But what has Google ever engineered, at least physically, that has set your expectations so high?


But what has Google ever engineered, at least physically, that has set your expectations so high?

Driverless cars.


Quite so! I'm very excited to head on down to my Google dealership and pick one--

Oh.

There's a huge difference between a research project and a shipping product. I'm most excited for this development as well, but I'll be withholding my acclaim until they actually deliver it. So far, all of this stuff is an elaborate Montessori school science project.


If you've followed the DARPA Grand Challenge since 2004, you'll realize that it's _not_ just a school science project. The Google car is going to be ready for market far before the legal, insurance, and other non-technical issues are sorted out.

In other words, they could ship "now" if they weren't doing such a revolutionary product. If you make a trivially incremental improvement on an already-existing product (iPad3) then that's a lot easier


That still sounds silly. If you have the muscle of Google, wouldn't you get the legal ball rolling first, so that when your car is ready, you can sell immediately?

Does a driverless car even count as basic research that they can spin off into a consumer product?


I think you're simplifying a little.

A driverless car is not just another car. It's not a fancy smartphone. It's a paradigm shift that will reshape society and erase tens of thousands of jobs in a relatively short timeframe. And it's one of the rare cases where you can actually predict and quantify these consequences with relatively good accuracy.

I'd assume quite a few parties (read: all of them) will want to have a say in such a rollout, beyond technical peculiarities. For the better or the worse.


The challenges in getting a driverless car to market will take years to over come. lsiebert replied that a few states are already thinking about this. We'll see how that turns out.

In the mean time, isn't it prudent to have intermediate products? Products to help people get used to the idea of driverless vehicles? Products to give them experience on how to rollout their bigger vision?


ISTR people saying that about the Segway.


Driverless cars would more or less kill an entire job category overnight. Who wouldn't want a truck driver that doesn't make wrong turns, doesn't get distracted, forget to gas up, doesn't need to sleep, eat, or be paid (as much)?


Don't forget: Offloading almost all freight traffic that can't be done by rail to automated vehicles between 1-6am daily.

Airplanes fly constantly, because each second they're on the ground is a second they're not paying for their capital cost. Ever see how barren a 6 lane highway is at 3am in the morning on a weeknight?


Exactly, robots aren't constrained by a need for sleep; and is likely more aware of it's surroundings vs. a human facing the same conditions. A driverless car can "see" in infrared or radar just as easily as it can visible light (potentially better).


You're not seriously comparing the segway to driverless vehicles?


Nah, I'm just comparing that bit of hyperbole.

Like the "paradigm shift" that was to be the Segway, what problem does this solve exactly?


40,000 deaths annually due to driver error


Also: Cost of human labor in logistics. Driverless cars don't need sleep.


Which they did. Nevada now has laws governing autonomously piloted cars, and California is working on it, last I checked.

If they can get such vehicles legal and available to the general public in California, it will be legal everywhere else within a year or two at most. California sets or has had the ability to set a lot of standards for the country, from vehicle emissions, textbooks, to now, apparently, driverless cars.


Google Street Map cars, then.

You want to pick nits over Google being able to ship?


That's not a consumer product, dude.


That's the problem with the google boys, they're a one hit wonder. They lucked out with search, a research project, and now they think they know what they're doing. They need to take their bozo hat off and realize they need to partner with the rest of the world to get stuff done. Apple's success is not just due to Job's taste but also extensive ties with chinese manufacturers and real focused hard work. A "secret" X lair in the second most expensive city in america ain't gonna cut it.

That's they problem with google, they still haven't figured out they're a one hit wonder, real business is much harder edged than the "playtime" for kids that goes on there.


> That's the problem with the google boys, they're a one hit wonder.

You don't consider GMail, their dominance in ads, Android's ubiquity, the YouTube acquisition, etc as successes? Because all of those seem to have improved vastly since Google took control of them.


Given that Google is not about search anymore but about Google all those acquisitions make sense. Now Google totally controls the biggest assets online (not counting facebook). They could also know as much now as they would like to know about you to give them, data-wise, more than just a controlling position online. So the seperate entities don't even have to be profitable if they generate enough data exhaust for the mothership (what they clearly do).


Google is not just about data collection, though data collection does help improve products (think distributed spam filtering). Most Google products exist because someone at Google thought people would like them. Making money is good, but not a primary concern. It seems crazy from the outside, but really, developers at Google are not sitting around trying to figure out how to build a huge and scary profile about you. We just want to play with fun things.

(Yes, that generates a lot of data, and we do use a lot of that data for things that might not thrill you, like targeting ads. But ultimately, a lot of companies know a lot about you, and few try to be as transparent about it as Google does. At least you can stop giving Google data. Try to opt out of the credit reporting system.)


Android was an acquisition....


Yes, 7 years ago, before they were well known. It seems a bit disingenuous to not give Google credit for Android as a success. They didn't initially create it, but they did shape it into a success.


Google has a competitive edge in search because of it's data. All their other so-called successes are based directly off that (either in user share or because they have the big bucks to bankroll it).

Take a look at other tech companies, they've created fortunes based on almost nothing

* apple, consumer electronics that anyone could do

* amazon, selling stuff online that anyone could do

* oracle, selling databases when their competition includes ibm and even free software

Youtube should have been itunes, amazon instant, netflix, hulu all rolled in one. But they're not, because they don't actually know how to do business - one hit wonder.

Another example, google, until recently, had no lobbyists - why on earth would you do that? (when you have enough piles of cash to buy ountries). Investors should be filing lawsuits for this reason alone.

Another example of business cluelessness, they're not flexing their patent muscles.

Android ubiquity - linux is ubiquitous too, far more so - hint, it's FREE. Not very hard to give away free stuff.


Another example of business cluelessness, they're not flexing their patent muscles.

It's worth noting that Google's prospectus [1] as filed with the SEC says that Google will always pursue long-term opportunities even if they hurt Google in the short term. Patents are an example here; Google could sue all of its "competitors" out of existence today, but would that really benefit Google in the long term? Would you work at Google if they were the company that put every tech startup out of business with "method for computing the sum of two integer" patents? Probably not. So aggressive patent lawsuits are not what Google's shareholders want. And doing what the shareholders want is not exactly "business cluelessness" :)

[1] http://www.buec.udel.edu/pollacks/Acct351/handouts/SEC%20For...


Remember Communicating with Care?

You might want to go review that. Or just stop posting so much about Google altogether.


So you're saying it's careless to respond to comments on the Internet?


I'm saying that speculating about what Google can and cannot do to competitors in public is definitely not Communicating with Care, and that your comment history is littered with borderline cases like this one. Just stop.

Further, you don't actually need to respond to every stupid, incorrect statement on the Internet that's written about your new employer. Really.


If they're borderline report him and let whomever take care of it. Best case scenario here is that you're not only a hypocrite but one who feels the need to say things he considers so bombastic it requires hiding behind a throwaway account.

By the way, his email address is in his profile. If you were really that concerned about "communicating with care" you could be a professional about it and mention it privately to him. Of course, that wouldn't satisfy your need to respond to every stupid, incorrect statement he makes about his new employer, really.


I see where you're coming from. Why do you have to use a misspelled throwaway account to say this, though?

(Ultimately, I see the risk in saying "I think XXX" if Google decides to someday do the opposite of XXX. But there is some limit; I'm still going to say that writing unit tests is good even if Google's official message to investors becomes "testing is a waste of time". That's because I'm me, and I have my own opinions. If Google wants to make an official statement, they have a blog for that. If someone wants to misconstrue a personal opinion of mine as an official statement, well... let's just say that their Pulitzer hopes may be dashed...)


>Another example of business cluelessness, they're not flexing their patent muscles.

A business with a basic sense of decency... imagine that.


Mountain View is the second most expensive city in the country? I wonder where LA and Chicago rank...


Thanks to a number of wars and billions being pumped into the UAV market, the likes of Raytheon, Thales Optronics, FLIR Systems, ITT, BAE, IAI, and probably a hundred other companies have made self driving cars possible. Not Google.

Even when I was working on autonomous vehicles 10+ years ago, the entire setup was basically a "solved problem" minus environmental sensing accurate and reliable enough to be put in the critical path of human life. The state machine for how to behave on paved roads has existed in various forms for a long time.

They have however put money and legal weight behind the problem. If Google deserves credit for anything, it would be getting them allowed on public streets.


UAV control has basically nothing to do with self-driving cars. It's a completely different problem. The only piece that's shared is the GPS/IMU, and it's a small piece. And if you think "the state machine for how to behave on paved roads" is the hard part, you're delusional.

"Environmental sensing accurate and reliable enough" isn't the problem either. Although fancy lasers and radars can help, we have had cameras, microphones, and accelerometers superior to human eyes, ears, and vestibular system for years now. The missing piece is the software, which is exactly the piece Google is working on.


Sorry for the confusing use of the term. UAV means unmanned autonomous vehicles. UAV in reference to aerial platforms is mostly the result of marketing/media.

Even the early Daimler-Benz projects of the 90's had fully functional software stacks that had implemented all the required decision making logic of driving.

While it is true that we have cameras and microphones that work better than our own eyes and ears, I don't think anyone would dispute the fact that the sensory processing isn't to human levels yet. The advancements that have been made are in different types of sensing devices that eliminate the need for heavy post-processing of data (image pattern recognition, etc) in software.

I do give credit to Google for making it happen, both as an integrator, and in lobbying efforts. But there is a lot of standing on the shoulders of giants, in comparison to pure software fields where they have made huge industry disrupting shifts (like BigTable, GFS, etc).


I don't think anyone would dispute the fact that the sensory processing isn't to human levels yet

And that's the exact problem Google is working on, and where all previous efforts have failed miserably, no matter how good their "rules of the road" state machines were in theory. Saying Daimler-Benz solved autonomous driving years ago is like saying SHRDLU solved natural language processing.

The advancements that have been made are in different types of sensing devices that eliminate the need for heavy post-processing of data

There are exactly two new kinds of sensing devices used on the Google cars AFAIK: small automotive radars and the Velodyne spinning LIDAR. The latter owes its existence not to giant defense contractors or car manufacturers but to a small loudspeaker company, of all things. Furthermore, it absolutely does not eliminate the need for heavy post-processing of data.


I think we could start putting self driving cars on the road today that would lower both the number of fatality's and accidents. We don't need more processing power, better sensors, or lower costs. What we need is slightly better software and the willingness to put it into production.

After-all the 'worst case' in a car is basically solved 99.9% of the time by staying in the correct lane, obeying stop lights / signs, speed limits, and simply hitting the breaks if your going to hit something. Sure, you could improve on that, but get that to work reliably and your already doing better than human drivers, who get distracted, drunk, tired, impatient, angry, and just plain overwhelmed.


Well, I guess "autonomous vehicles" were a solved problem the same way "portable music devices" or "smart phones" or "Tablet Computers" were a solved problem. But it takes _someone_ to push the concept over and move the category forward.

In all three categories (particularly portable music devices) - I would argue that Apple didn't so much as make the technology possible, as it did make them _popular_.

Likewise, with a autonomous vehicle - it isn't so much building a car that can drive itself - it's making a car that can drive itself _that I can buy_ that I get excited about.

Of course, Google has yet to deliver on the part about me buying them - but can you identify any other company that has done so much to get them driving on roads _with other people_?


I would posit that the secret sauce is the integration of Google maps and street views. The driverless car isnt just reacting to its sensor inputs, it has a pretty good idea of what is coming up including potential problems.


Could your "solved problem" vehicles reliably tell the difference between a kid running into the street and a empty garbage bag blown in the wind?


If you designed the system, would you handle them any differently?

A buddy of mine, when he was a kid, used to tie toilet paper across the road at windshield height then hide in the bushes. A car would come along at ~30 mph, see it, then come to a screeching halt. Some would get out and tear it down, some would stomp the gas. Point is, every human stopped for a single strand of toilet paper blocking the road.


Perhaps on a 30 mph residential street in light traffic.

Screeching halts have a different effect at higher speeds in denser traffic. People would be less likely to slam on the brakes for a trash bag on the freeway.

But either way it is a dangerous, controversial, split second, human risk calculation. I can't say how I would handle it in advance, much less how a robot car should be programmed to handle ambiguous inputs at highway speed.


"The difference between theory and practice is that, in theory, there is no difference but in practice, there is" -- numerous possible sources


Driverless cars. Google Glasses.

The CEO's job is to allocate resources to initiatives that will make the company money. NOT to fool around with worthless projects like driver less cars and glasses that are just complete waste of money and resources.

Shouldn't they be spending time and money fixing Android and the Android market place?


The car business is fantastically large. If Google can license its technology to power the next stage of personal transportation, the revenue received will dwarf its 30% vig on selling Angry Birds.

Either way, it's not that they are taking money and resources from Android and dedicating them to cars and augmented reality. I don't think more money and more people is what Android needs.


If they were man enough to actually license. I recently say sebastian thrun speaking and he turns investor off. Hand a professor a cheque and he'll hand you a pipe dream. Google needs to be hiring more wall street sharks.


There are plenty of Wall Street types at Google, the last thing they need is to have them in control of innovation. The scientists won't be in charge of sales or licensing, I think it's great that the MBAs aren't in charge of product development.

Maybe Google won't license it, maybe Google will give it away like they do Android. Since I don't see them manufacturing cars, those are about the only options other than canceling the effort.


You are correct that "The CEO's job is to allocate resources to initiatives that will make the company money" and with driverless cars and google glasses the CEO is doing exactly that.

Also people working on these projects are scientists at googleX they are completely different from the Android team ... Google has enough resources (people and money) to pursue these long term research project without hurting their short term business too much.


> You are correct that "The CEO's job is to allocate resources to initiatives that will make the company money"

Actually that's not strictly true. The CEO's job is to satisfy the shareholders/board of directors. Normally that coincides with making the company money, but not always - the idea of a legal duty to maximise share value is a widely held myth. In the case of Google, most of the shares are still held by the founders. If they just want the company to do cool and impractical things they have the right and the capacity to make it do so.


A lot of people would argue that a CEO's job is to innovate and that profit is just a means. Starting a company (and making yourself CEO) doesn't mean you have to change your priorities from improving the world to increasing your annual return. Lots of world-changing technology has financial gains that aren't realized for years. As long as you have enough money in the short term, which Google does, you can afford such R&D. I can't imagine the inventions at Bell Labs were profitable in the short term, but we wouldn't be typing posts on HN if they didn't exist. Do you think expensive technological innovation should be relegated to the government? Who do you trust to get us to Mars first, NASA or companies like SpaceX?


The effect of a driverless car isn't necessarily that it drives itself. It's a car that's aware of its surroundings and provides feedback to the driver. Mercedes already implemented collision avoidance, driverless car can potentially prevent running over curbs, pedestrians or provide better control. In any case, lack of innovation is a pretty easy way eventually lose ground.


Can't tell if you're joking.


The only joke here is Google.


I think the technical infrastructure they've built to support Youtube, Google Search, and the rest of their products is a modern technological marvel, and that was designed 100% in-house as far as I know.

I don't think they've developed a physical consumer product that is revolutionary, but I believe they have the talent to do so.


Everything I've heard about the self driving car gets me more excited than Search ever did. But then again I've never seen it.


I wonder if Google will end up going the same route as Philips.

I'm from the home-town of Philips, the company that became big selling light-bulbs but then expanded into a myriad of great technical innovations.

We were always joking however about how they were able to make the greatest products, but were never able to sell them.

There are so many examples of absolutely great products/innovations which were eventually canned or, if they weren't IP protected, were successfully released to market several years later by a competitor.

I really hope Google doesn't fall into this trap, because the even the greatest still need to be sold...


>If wearable computers catch on that make it easier to check-in to the places you go and +1 the stuff you like, they'll make tons more money from useful targeted ads than units of hardware shipped, just as they do now.

I expect that they have patented "location based XYZ implemented by wearable computing devices" up the wazoo before this announcement. Even if Google Glass doesn't become the market leader, they're set to reap its rewards in more ways than one.


Why would you ask that?

Did you hear about how Google dogfooded Google+ for months, and when it was released to the public, people used it entirely differently than they had used it internally?

It seems to me that Google is so stuck in the mindset of "Release a Beta, assess the adoption, iteratively improve" that they don't know how to make a product that people will actually want from the start.

Chrome took a while to be adopted because everyone was still stuck with useful extensions in other browsers. Wave had neat interaction, but failed the adoption hypothesis. Google+ correctly assumed the need for a sharing-centric network to replace Facebook, but botched the actual social aspect of it.

Google is the polar opposite of Apple in this regard. They need to learn to keep things under wraps and understand the userbase for the product before it actually reaches them. In the case of Google+, for instance, it's impossible to change the sharing mechanism that has been there from the start, as fundamentally flawed as it may be.


I don't see why everyone should seek to emulate Apple, it's the antithesis of the Valley mentality. Everyone else goes for openness, iteration, and lean mentality, not stealth and secrecy, it rarely works.

You can't always design products from the top down. Sometimes you have to run actual experiments and collect data. The Apple aura that they can sit in an ivory tower and perfectly craft things that everyone wants will fade away the first time they release a product that bombs.

Right now, they are successful, so everyone says go emulate them. That's a shortsighted MBA mentality, that there's this formula for success, and you just need to emulate the practices of others.


Apple creates bombs all the time: the G4 Cube, iPod Socks, iPod Hi-Fi, iAds. They create enough other things that don't bomb to make up for it.

But you're right that Apple's way is only one way, and it's non-obvious how to go about replicating their processes even if you wanted to.

If anything should be learned from Apple, it's every aspect of the experience should be considered part of the product, including anticipation and expectations. That can mean a big media event unveiling a top-secret project, or it can mean launching a developer wiki before the product is even finished. Either way, managing the experiences of your customers, even pre-purchase, is part of the job.


I think Apple's hype machine however can also lead to problems, because it can raise expectations so high that nothing they release can match it. You're already starting to see some of that. With both the iPad and iPhone, Apple is mostly just doing refinements now: change the radio, bump the screen res, bump the CPU clock. It's not disruptive or revolutionary anymore, it's just evolution.

You're already starting to see some of that now. Building excitement is great, but if you over do it, people will be disappointed.


Apple has no hype machine. The machine is created and operated by media, pundits and so-called experts and analysts. This probably helps Apple more than hurts, but the company gets some bad press just because someone dreamt up what will Cupertino release and then feel cheated when cancer-curing-iPhone-GazillionS does not show up.

And you are right about refinements. There is a nice piece just about that: http://tidbits.com/article/12856


This seems like a perfect example of overhype. Without tangible details about the device and it's actual capabilities, we are left to wonder what is possible, and many of us will be let down since you can't pack a thousand features into the glasses.


I highly doubt they will "pack features into the glasses". If I were to guess, they will pack them into a smartphone platform which communicates with the glasses over bluetooth. That is, the glasses will be a peripheral of the smartphone.

Also, nothing they showed was very exotic. Google already has walking navigation. Google already has Hangouts, Screen Sharing. Google already has Goggles image recognition. The only 'sci fi' element was the always-on microphone handling Siri-like queries. They could have showed a lot more crazy stuff: face detection, augmented reality tracking, augmented reality games. They didn't show anything that isn't technically possibly to achieve. It's rather mundane if you think about the features they showed as applications on your phone instead of displayed on your eye glasses. The only thing different is the input/output device.

Apple announced the iPhone 6 months before you could buy it. The initial version didn't do much beside fixed functions and Web browsing. It wasn't until the App Economy that it's potential was unlocked. People speculated for months about app development only to be told much much later that there was none. People speculated over flash. Over Java support. MMS messaging. In fact, I have an old post from 2007 exactly discussing all of this naysaying due to speculation: http://cromwellian.blogspot.com/2007_01_01_archive.html

I think Google has actually put forward a very pragmatic concept video that is fully realizable, albeit with latencies and delays and voice recognition accuracies that don't quite match up to the real world (but even Apple commercials show apps serving up answers faster than they do in reality)


Typical Google. Treating what should be platforms like products and treating what should be products like platforms.


This is a great point. In the Project Glass video all of the products are Google's. Imagine if, instead of a product, the Google glasses were an open platform for AR like Android is for smartphones. If this were so, Google could create a new app store for AR applications, a new distribution platform for web searches, AR open web apps, and (maybe) a first-person version of YouTube (reality TV 3.0). This platform would mobilize the development community and deter some companies from building apps for the iPhone (if delivery on the Google Glass platform would be more convenient).

As a developer who is working on a product that's very well suited to take advantage of this product I'm very ashamed of Google's lack of third-party developer involvement and business vision. Sure the product looks great, but is not solely about products; it's about people, about delivering value for customers the world over. And the full value of this product would only be realized if Google takes a platform approach, opens up the ecosystem and lets everybody in (including, and, especially Facebook).

Summary of the good things I saw in the demo:

- Very clean user interface

- Nice hardware design

- Interesting functionalities

- Nice integration with Google products

- Slick animations

- Seems to be pretty fast

Initial concerns:

- Video calls in version one? What about battery life? Sometimes is better to keep some things out on first iterations

- No hints to integrations with other platforms

- Too much use of voice (we all know the state of the art in voice recognition and how long voice processing currently takes)

- I didn't see a single Web search in the video... how come?

All and all this is a VERY promising product and a very important one for the whole industry. I hope Google opens up this platform so that it can reach all the momentum and followers it deserves.


It will probably be a 'dumb' accessory - using bluetooth to offload most of the processing to an android device - at least, in the first version.


Agree with most of the above, but as regards an open platform, don't forget that the iPhone didn't initially have an app store at all.

I think it might take a while of having people walking around with an initial, closed version for the truly novel and exciting obvious to really become obvious.


Does webpage searching really have much relevance to AR? A lot of useful services for this application are on different platforms like twitter, facebook, chat, video, maps. I don't think this AR will/should be text-heavy.


The bulk of information that resides in social networks is "conversational". Publicly accessible human knowledge about places (such as historic facts, meetups, etc) still resides, for the most part, in the open Web.

Connect to the open Web (with a powerful summarization technology) would be a killer on this platform. Otherwise we would we reinventing the wheel.


Who said anything about searching text?


Is there any indication that there won't be Apps available for these glasses? I don't think so.

At any rate, the counter argument is that opening it up to 3rd party developers means letting people shit up your field of vision with ads, which might not be so cool.


Are you saying they should license this technology to Samsung and others? If that's the case, I disagree. This is Google's chance to increase their profits and market cap three fold and within a few years, if this product turns out as exciting as it seems to be right now.


Considering the number of failed Google services, I think it's plausible to consider more "open" products to have a bigger opportunity for growth and popularity. Allowing third party developers to do their own thing with the product would remove Google's sluggishness as a factor for avoiding the device.


They ask it because they have a cool product but don't know how to use it. I doubt it will be used the way they promote it, this is cool stuff you come up with when you are brainstorming with some friends + beer but when you think about it, it doesn't improve your life, it adds noise.

In different areas however it could be a big improvement, if you are repairing stuff with no hands free in a dimly lit area and you need info from a manual or you want others to see what you see and help you.


Some people see the infinite possibilities to what Google is doing.

While others see only what's wrong to what Google is doing.


If I wanted infinite possibilities, I'd go outside. I pay companies to narrow out the nearly-infinite shitty possibilities and provide a useful grouping of the remainder.


Innovative products from companies are more than "fold" or "reduce" operations.


If Google is smart, they would keep this for themselves, and sell the hardware themselves for a nice Apple-like profit. From the way it looks, I'm sure people will be more than happy to pay a bit extra - especially if it takes a few years for others to catch-up, like it happened versus the iPhone.

Also, I assume this is going to work with a data plan as well? Well at least this time I really hope Google will not give in to carriers, and compromise on nothing. Don't give carriers the power Google. When this product becomes extremely successful, as I believe it will become, they will be begging you to sell it on their network. Although I'd probably prefer something like the former Nexus store, that intended to commoditize carriers, rather than give them exclusives.


Google and Apple have fundamentally different business models. One sells hardware and one sells advertising. I would imagine Google's goal will be to put these glasses on as many people as they can, as cheaply as they can and then they have a direct advertising connection to a lot of eyeballs.


I believe Google has higher ambitions than selling advertising for the next 3 decades. They didn't buy Motorola just for patents, and to me they seem to be increasingly more interested in the physical world. I don't think it's a stretch to think that they want to make and sell physical products.


Yeah, the more I think about these glasses the more the Motorola acquisition makes sense. If you look at some of the products Motorola makes, eg:

http://www.motorola.com/Consumers/US-EN/Consumer-Product-and...

You can see it is a fairly short leap to producing all manner of interesting hardware, including AR glasses. I think Google is starting to realise that so many of their ventures are getting stymied by depending on 3rd parties for hardware that it's eventually going to be a threat to their core mission (organizing information, etc.) I bet they've had high level talks with OEMs about things like this and always get frustrated by the low margins they operate on and the need to reap immediate profits for anything to happen.


I think this Motorola product is even more relevant:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden-i


.. making the term "selling eyeballs" just a _little_ bit more accurate.


I think I understand the motivation behind your comment and I'd agree to some extent, but designers still have the mantra that users need to be involved in the process of design. For some design practitioners, it's maybe ensuring that designers write personas and scenarios for different types of users or engage in narrative-based design exercises, or even (if you're the right sort of weirdo) participatory design.

I honestly have no idea what stage this project is in. Are they in a phase that's more ideation? Are they refining in their design funnel? I think it's a bit curious to point at an example of a product by one company and say essentially 'They did it this way and were successful, clearly this is how all things should be designed'.

I'm not sure this is an issue of them asking a question analagous to "What do you want the iPhone to do?" so much as it's maybe "How annoying are people who aren't researchers and designers going to find wearing HUD glasses for 3 hours a day?" or "Will people feel uncomfortable using them in pedestrian or cycling settings given that they're voice-activated and pervasive?" Granted, there are maybe analogous products on the market that will maybe inform how people will interact with this new medium, but I have a few years experience interacting with someone using this sort of one-eyed projective displays (my former research advisor wore one) and there are some funny things involved with face to face interaction with someone using them that you might not anticipate. In fact, he felt that the eyepiece was often enough of a social interaction barrier that he'd take his off and tuck it into his shirt pocket when he was having a conversation.

You're not necessarily going to figure these things out in the product design lab. Maybe it's stupid of Google, but I suspect they're trying to better do design for the wild. Alternately, they're just people who don't know how to make products.


this, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denn%C5%8D_Coil

make dennu coil happen.


Sounds a lot like Rainbow's End: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rainbows_End

I agree - make it happen.


Nitpick: There's no apostrophe in the title "Rainbows End". Relevant because of how much it changes the meaning.


completely off topic but you put Mitsuo Iso's name in my internal map of the universe and now an entire span of dark fog is gone.

thanks


Interesting timing. I wrote the following yesterday afternoon before they published, and yet I seem to be answering their question:

http://a1.blogspot.com/2012/04/first-app-i-want-from-new-goo...

So guess they might get a FEW good ideas :-)


Why would the largest advertising company in the world want to place a screen between my eyeballs and reality?


I'm imagining a remix of the featured video to look something like this:

* Guy wakes up, puts on glasses. They immediately tell him what brand of breakfast he should be eating today.

* When he looks at the window to see the weather, buildings and places are censored, and advertisements are replaced with google ads, yet he doesn't care

* During the text message with his friend, after he says "Strand books", Google suggests Chapters or Noble or another "featured" store, and he has to opt out of the text replacement.

* When the Subway is out, advertisements for cab companies come up on his "screen". He must opt out of them to get the walking route. Google begins caching the advertisements he will be seeing during the rout superimposed on the scenery.

* The board of posters he steps up to is blurred out and is instead a different, large "pop" label, not some indie band.

* In the book store, Google quotes lower prices for each book at "Google Books" and offers free shipping.

* The picture he takes at the end has a superimposed image of "Sponsored by Google!"

* It ends with the sunset having a superimposed text advertisement for vacations.


This is a very interesting interpretation of that video. It has such a dystopian flavor. Yes, it solves problems for you, but at the expense of a full thought process.


You already live that life on the Internet. Why is it so hard to imagine it following you into the real world?


Maybe something like this:

https://vimeo.com/8569187

A less cynical version:

https://vimeo.com/14294054


This is why government regulation can be healthy. Ideally, ad replacement like what you described would be illegal. In a purely capitalist world it would be encouraged.

Apologies for getting political. But you paint an all-too-possible picture that's worryingly dystopic.


I personally wish that outdoor ads visible from public places were illegal like they are in São Paulo. Outdoor advertising is visual pollution that has been placed over the World so slowly that most people don't realize the problem because they don't have a point of reference to compare to and be outraged.


>"Ideally, ad replacement like what you described would be illegal"

Why is that? No one's forcing anyone to wear these glasses.

Do you think Adblock plugins should be illegal? If not, should they be illegal if they display a different ad instead? What if they remove all ads, but put a banner at the bottom of each page?


I personally didn't think that any of the situations I described should be illegal, but I suppose it really says something about our society when I can picture people being okay with corporations knowing everything about them.


Wrong. In a purely capitalist world, you can choose to avoid the product or use a competing product, or pay more for a premium service without ads.

Thinking that government regulation can be healthy is a horribly naive and extremely dangerous idea.


> Thinking that government regulation can be healthy is a horribly naive and extremely dangerous idea.

I assume you don't mean for this to apply to others areas, like food and drug inspection, vehicle safety standards, etc.


I would definitely prefer if the government had nothing to do with any kind of safety standards, including regulation of food, drugs, and vehicles.


Also, in the concept video he goes into a physical book store and selects a physical book and buys it. Surely, his Googgles would just scan the book tell him how much cheaper it was in the Google Store... Rather amused that when meeting a friend he spent time checking in to the location rather than talking to the dude.

But these could be useful in situations where you don't have your hands free to hold a smartphone. For example, I would very much like GPS as a heads up display for cycling around London. And skiers/snowborders would enjoy them for other information (How many Gs am I pulling in this turn? How fast am I descending? Where am I?)


Rather amused that when meeting a friend he spent time checking in to the location rather than talking to the dude.

I'm rather creeped out by this project. In almost all the situations presented he could have asked a freaking human instead of his glasses :

  - bookstore : ask the bookseller that's what he's here for,
 he may even give you better recommendations
  - maps in the street : ask somone
  - where is your friend ? call him
Etc etc...


Every single one of those things is faster and easier if handled automatically.

Ask the bookseller where to find a book? I don't do that now unless I've looked for the book myself and failed to find it, because it makes me feel lazy, and because it's not always easy to find someone without going to the cashier.

Ask someone for directions? People suck at giving directions, and they're slow at giving those bad directions. There's a reason people buy GPS units, and it's not because they're anti-social. It's because they work so much better.

Call your friend just to ask where he is when you expect him to arrive any minute? That comes off as impatient. And it's an inconvenience for your friend who has to answer his phone just to tell you he's almost there.


Here, here!

I think that as the way information is handled transforms and evolves the world will have to adapt.

I suspect getting floor plans of each and every store where these glasses operate wouldn't be feasible so having staff around to point people to specific books may still be useful. But I strongly believe that we shouldn't shun a new technology on the basis that it renders a current job useless. Just think of how many jobs that computers destroyed, and made.

I'm always excited when I think of what the future will look like because so much has changed with the Internet, and so much will continue to change as products like smartphones, tablets and AR systems come into play.

Imagine if someone from the 1800's could visit 2050. He might assume we are all extremely high-functioning schizophrenics.


> Imagine if someone from the 1800's could visit 2050. He might assume we are all extremely high-functioning schizophrenics.

Remember that movie 'Time After Time'? HG Wells and Jack the Ripper both visit the 1980's. Guess who fit in better? :-)


It's probably good for bookstore scenario but for asking people about maps requires that there must be (helpful) people around with good knowledge of the area. And for friend's location, calling requires input from someone else (which makes it slower, costlier, and imagine getting call from your friend asking for your location every x minutes [you can only do that so many times without "crossing the line"])


There's a reason why one of the most successful comedy sketches in my country is about some guys giving directions. Not only are they slow and confusing, as - and I don't know if this is a cultural thing - they often actually make stuff up instead of admitting they don't know where it is.


I'd add:

- where is your friend? just wander around. you'll find him.

Anyway so me too. Once I know I'm gonna be thought weird for asking someone, because most people just use their gadgets to find out, I don't ask, unless I'm not worried about being weird. And I'm just making it worse, of course. Oh dear.


The biggest wtf is why he is even going into a paper bookstore in the first place. He should be able to just navigate some sort of hierarchical list of all published works and have a copy sent to his e-paper reader. There are no technological barriers to this, only social.


There's always going to be a lot of people who prefer a paper book to an e-book; even with the death of paper books I could absolutely see "one-off" book printing companies licensing printing rights from the publishers and making a niche for themselves.


> And skiers/snowborders would enjoy them for other information (How many Gs am I pulling in this turn? How fast am I descending? Where am I?)

http://www.reconinstruments.com/products/mod


That is absolutely mind-blowing. I had to double-check online that it wasn't a concept mock-up or a joke, but it turned out to be a real product. I have no idea how well that screen looks in RL, but if it's half as good as in those promotional videos, then it's pretty impressive.

I thought it was going to cost a few thousand, but it's only 300/400, wow.

I can only imagine what a company with the talent and resources of Google could do with more advanced iterations of HUD technology.


Don't ask smart questions - just put on the glasses


You see a jogger pass by in a Nike t-shirt. But Under Armor is paying steep fees to have the augmented reality overlay show you the advantages that a UA t-shirt would give you: "57% more air exchange, 7% lighter, " etc.


I think that big media corporations (owning dozens of TV and radio stations, newspapers and magaiznes) are still largest advertising companies in the world. Whether you count it by money flow, reach or anything else.


This is the same thing I thought. This ad brought immediately to mind the book "Feed" by MT Anderson.


Because they are trying to create a new reality....


He was being sarcsatic


of course he was....I still don't understand why an advertising company would like to put a screen in front of your eye.....lol


Here's an example of how I would love to be able to use (even a very basic version of) this product:

I'm an EMT (and Paramedic student). There are plenty of scenarios in emergency medicine where you're following a time based algorithm. In the example of a cardiac arrest patient, everything revolves around two minutes cycles of CPR, medications, and (if applicable) defibrillation. Even something as simple as a clock that was alway superimposed in the corner of my field of vision would be great. If it kept track of upcoming medications and other actions, that would be even better.

I think this technology has applications in technical fields (medicine, mechanics, etc), long before it will be a common thing to wear out in 'normal life'.


I am in complete agreement that augmented reality ("AR") has the potential to be a game changer for physical tasks. It is the kind of thing that has the potential to raise the effective IQ of the user quite substantially.

The military has spent a fair amount of time working on something similar to what you describe for vehicular repair. I think you might find the videos off of this page ( http://graphics.cs.columbia.edu/projects/armar/index.htm ) and this page ( http://singularityhub.com/2010/01/11/augmented-reality-to-he... ) very suggestive of the kind of thing you are looking for in medicine.

I haven't seen the same level of thing yet for medical systems, though it may exist. I have seen some work on using AR for visualization of imaging (e.g. map the CT scan onto the body I am looking at). I think the sort of direct procedural guidance you describe is probably harder for people than it is for vehicular repair. At the core that is probably just a computational problem though.


What's exciting about this project is that if the software is an open platform, this is exactly the sort of thing that could be easily implemented for incredible benefits. They don't even need to implement it themselves as long as the hardware is solid– just spark enough interest with the public, get some contracts with other corporations (as you said in technical fields) to subsidize the cost of making it widespread in a short amount of time, and hackers will do the rest.


What this will provide for disabled and autistic people is amazing. It's too easy to get caught up in the "social sharing" part of this and forget that something like this can really help change people's lives.

Edit: To expand a bit, take an autistic adult that wants to do something, like go to the movies. It's simple for us, we wash up, get dressed, go outside, go down the straight, hope on the 132 Bus for 3 stops, get off, walk 2 blocks, pay for tickets, and go into theater number 5. For someone with autism, they can struggle with things like this. These glasses provide them with visual cues base upon their location, so when they finally do get to the theater, the glasses can show them what to do next, and give them that visual cue.

Currently working on an app for tablets for this sort of things, but having it work in glasses would be simply amazing. God, what I wouldn't give to be apart of this.


It's too easy to get caught up in the "social sharing"

It's also hard not to recognize that consumer technology shifts further towards entertainment than utility. It's bizarre and selfish how consumer technology alerts you immediately about friend requests but not local emergencies. It's bizarre and selfish how your phone can show people your apps, contacts, and calendar, but not emergency medical information. Having apps x, y, and z can someone solve these for an individual, but as a society we haven't progressed much with this technology. The idea that the person beside me might have a heart attack, and I'd have to navigate their phone to find an ICE contact just baffles the hell out of me.


consumer technology shifts further towards entertainment than utility.

It shifts towards whatever people will pay for. There are a lot more wallets interested in entertainment than local emergencies.


I suspect that this will be a huge benefit to deaf people as well, once speech recognition works well enough.


You wouldn't even necessarily need the speech "recognition" to resolve words completely, e.g. deciding which homonym is appropriate in a given context. Just representing incoming phonemes in IPA could be a great improvement. The human brain can translate this input on the fly just like it does with spoken words.


The biggest benefit of this is it's inconspicuous nature. they are glasses. They aren't big cumbersome devices, and they aren't phones that you have to carry around in one hand to use. They're apart of you like no other device you carry.


> God, what I wouldn't give to be apart of this.

No idea what the odds are, but you should try to contact google (whatever that means). Seems like they would be all about having their magic glasses helping autistic folks.


I don't work with these types of people, so I might sound ignorant here, but it seems like glasses like these could add a lot of "noise" to the world of an autistic or disabled adult.


From the video, their is that potential yes. The idea isn't to just use what's in the video though. Rather, to use the technology behind the video to build technology that is made for them.

Yes, the constant interruptions wouldn't be good, but that doesn't mean we couldn't build something for them using that same technology.


I loved the video, but it didn't show the glasses on his face. Besides the technical/usability challenges, I think the cultural connotation of the device will be an equally deal/no-deal situation.

Like the Segway, significant portions of the society might associate negative connotations with the device ("dorky", antisocial, pretentious etc).

I remember when a friend bought a pair of Oakley sunglasses with built in headphones. I think amongst my friends, the almost unanimous consensus was that it was not a good social statement to say the least.

This will be a challenge, but I'm sure there's a solution.


Cultural bias always shifts abruptly and unapologetically with utility. It was once considered "dorky" to own a cellular phone. The question is not whether they can build/market it subtly enough to shirk societal ridicule, but whether they can make it practical enough to rewrite existing mores.

The Segway obviously lacked that practicality, as did the Oakleys. True augmented reality glasses would certainly not, but I don't know how far along they are towards that goal.


I agree, cultural acceptance or tastes in fashion are hard to impossible to predict. But just on the point of cell phones, I remember they were actually a prestigious thing in the 80's, you remember Zach Morris' brick cell phone in Saved by the Bell?? It was pretty cool


In Sweden cell phones were called "yuppie teddies" and very frowned upon until it catched on.


Most of the folks I know frown on the bluetooth headsets as well - outside of a practical use (hands-free phone while driving).


This is nothing like Segway. Segway users are bound to be seen as too lazy to walk.

But imagine having these glasses on while performing a complicated technical procedure providing you with checklist of activities, enabling you to take pictures as you go.

Or giving a lecture/presentation without having to turn away from the public to peek at your presentation/notes.

Plus in comparison to Segway and bluetooth headphones these would make you look cool.

It just lacks a Brain Computer Interface.

I want one, of both.


I think that's a valid point especially for certain tasks, but it finally hit me what's slightly jarring about the glasses in the scenario the video portrayed.

It creates a very clear seperation between you and the person you're facing, a complete loss of intimacy and focus which right now is the last refuge for non distracted human contact. It's analgous (roughly) to having someone talking to you while looking at their iPhone the whole time. In the personal (ubiquitous) scenario, I can see how glasses like these can be a violent intrusion in our relationships.


My god. I am really curious what is your opinion of sunglasses?


Take them off when speaking to someone. No eye contact no respect.

*Exceptions apply. At the beach is fine.


I wear photochromic prescription lenses and have horrible vision without them. I'm certainly not going to take them off, and you have no way of knowing that they are not sunglasses just by looking at them.

That might explain my lack of aversion to the idea, though. Have to look into that...


"but it didn't show the glasses on his face"

It did not show them on her face, either. That made me wonder whether it would, at some time, become socially acceptable or even the norm to have a video call where both parties do not see each other, but what the other is looking at. I think it might become the norm soon, if there are no technical challenges (how much stabilization do such images need? How much lag will that stabilization introduce? How will the experience be if the connection isn't good enough?)


> both parties do not see each other, but what the other is looking at.

That sounds like a fun way to induce vertigo in your conversation partner. I get nauseous watching people play first-person-shooters on large televisions, I could not deal with following alone with someone's bobbing viewpoint.


The gal was likely doing video chat with another devices, such as a laptop, which would mean that Google Glass is not a closed system and can communicate with other platforms.


I honestly don't see a market for every day use like they show it in this video.

If I saw this on the streets right now I'd get a "bluetooth-headset-douchebag"-vibe


What if they looked like normal glasses/sunglasses? May not be possible in the first revision but certainly a possibility.


/r/futureworldproblems: I'm wearing glasses because I can't afford LASIK, but everybody around me thinks I'm an AR douche


Augmented reality glasses, self-driving cars... Google is becoming a really exciting and interesting company. It will be interesting to see how Apple will react to this given that they are the ones claiming to revolutionize consumer technology every couple of years.


Real artists ship. I'm very excited about all of Google's cool new projects, but they have a history of shooting themselves in the foot. If these technologies are so far along, why not build a consumer version and get people to pay to be testers?! Then iterate on the concept and keep improving it through successive versions. But that's Apple's game.


> Real artists ship.

While true, don't you think that the world would be a poorer place without the research from Xerox Parc? People who were notoriously bad at shipping, but their ideas were used to create product elsewhere.

My only point is that shipping isn't everything for research, unlike product development. So the question is really, are they looking to build a product, or research the future of computing? Perhaps both. Having said that, I do wish I could get my hands on one...


Because you don't ship when it still kills people. Google launches stuff in betas all the time (arguably too much and for too long), but I'm glad they're not out there letting anyone test self driving cars or augmented reality contacts.

Apple's difference isn't that they iterate, it's that they don't talk about their new stuff until it ships.


The automated car has driven over 200,000 miles and has never once been in an accident. I don't know many humans that can live up to that.


200k miles is nothing. Over 8 billion vehicle miles are spent per DAY in the US. One person is killed for every 75 million miles driven. 200k miles isn't enough to test every terrain, under every weather condition, in every lighting, etc. There's too many variables in the equation.

The Google car won't be truly safe until it has logged 1000x miles.


Its not that Google's automated cars haven't been in an fatal crash, its that they haven't been in a crash at all. The US _crash rate_ is a bit over 5 per million miles traveled, you you would expect about one crash in the 200k miles already covered if it was a human driver. The circumstances probably aren't identical, but what evidence we have suggests that these automated vehicles are at least comparably safe to a human driver.


You can't be serious. The evidence may support it, but the evidence is incredibly limited.

Can you imagine the potential liability Google faces if they try to bring this to market without having done due diligence? This is a car, not an iPad.


No one said the car should ship tomorrow, but the reasoning: "Because you don't ship when it still kills people" is ridiculous. Cars have killed people for 90 years and they still ship. And not every death is due to human error. The fact is, the Google car has yet to even be hit by another car, let alone hitting something itself. It hasn't even remotely injured anything, let alone killed a human being.


The Google car has been hit by another car and it's not ridiculous at all to not ship something that can very easily kill someone (and in this case, almost assuredly innocent bystanders) before you've had time to work out the bugs. I'm glad car companies don't release their drive by wire systems out for public betas too.

http://www.technolog.msnbc.msn.com/technology/technolog/goog...

It's a silly debate anyways considering all the extra hardware you'd need.


> The historic moment passed quickly however, along with any opportunity for robot rebellion hysteria, when Google stated that the car was not in auto-mode at the time of the fender bender.


It really depends on the implementation. You're assuming that all of the functionality has been revealed. For example, it's not completely out of the question that their technology will b, in part, completely mapped and trained co-ordinates (hey, they did it with StreetView). Each road, each corner, each nuance all recorded several times over for redundant accuracy - plus all the sensory, awareness that they have previously shown. There's also the point to be made that the car may know when and where it will have problems (calculating multiple steps ahead) and let you know that a known obstacle is coming up and you'll have to take over. Nothing wrong with that.


If we expect 1 crash per 200k mi, and the car has driven 200k mi, the evidence we have has sample size 1 ...


We only have a sample size of one for the 1 crash per 200k miles case. So the evidence that these cars are actually _better_ than humans is non-existent. However, the evidence against the 1 crash per 100k miles case where the car is no longer comparable to human error rates is at least suggestive. And the evidence against the 1 crash per 20k miles case is actually pretty decent. I chose my words carefully.


We can also look at it from the perspective of the geometric distribution: if the P(Crash) = 1/200k for each mile driven there is around a 36% chance that the car would have made it 200k miles without a crash.


The Google car is only driven in controlled conditions in sunny California. For example the car simply doesn't work when it snows, so they just turn it off for that duration.

The project looks promising but it still has a long way to go.


But remember: a car that can drive for you perfectly well when the weather is fine but that requires you to take the wheel under adverse conditions is still an awesome product as long as the limitations are clear, consistent, and understood by purchasers.


I wonder how well we will handle the adverse conditions when we have been letting the car do all the work in fair weather scenarios? "Google wants me to drive in this weather? I haven't driven for 2 years! Now let me see - where is that indicator stalk?"


Where have you found fair weather for 2 years?


It's also a product for which there's a considerable sampling bias in making safety assumptions.

The more so as it's adversely selecting hazardous conditions for the human driver.

My own stats, space travel excepted, are about a quarter million miles driven. Three parking scrapes (insufficient clearance / hitting unseen object), twice rear-ended (neither major damage) both times by a trailing car driving too close, too fast.

Touch wood.


http://techcrunch.com/2010/10/09/google-automated-cars/

Says that they do have the occasional human intervention. So even if it has never been in an accident up to that point there had only been 7 cars that had driven 1,000 miles without any human intervention.

You'd have to have a lot more data (such as a much higher number of miles logged without human intervention and 'all weather' exposure) before you could make such a grand claim.


In very carefully controlled conditions with carefully controlled equipment. Supervised by experts. That's different than a bunch of people modding their Civics and having them roam the streets.


It has been in accident. It wasn't in one it caused but it was rear ended.


As to your first sentence, much of the most advanced technology in existence did not ship until it was sufficiently effective at causing or, at least, facilitating death.


Well treating your users like guinea pigs can back fire. Look at Siri. There seems to be a lot of frustrated users, some even going as far as lawsuits. That model doesn't always work.


Siri is great. Almost 90% of iPhone 4S users use Siri once a month.

http://www.macnews.com/2012/03/26/87-iphone-4s-owners-use-si...

http://www.idownloadblog.com/2012/03/26/90-percent-siri-user...

Siri isn't perfect, but it's a great start. Apple will almost certainly improve Siri in the next iteration of iOS.


Why is this being downvoted?


I think you got downvoted because you come off a little fanboyish when you retort the class action lawsuits regarding false advertising simply stating "Siri is great". Just because 90% of people use it once a month doesn't make it great. That said, I personally think Siri is great, and use it all the time. :)


Apple respecter, not fanboy here:

I don't know either. It'd be nice for some explanation.


Oh, this is because these technologies complement each other... Not much use in having people wearing augmented reality glasses if they'll die in car crashes as soon as an ad pops up in front of their eyes when driving. They won't even click on the ad. Hence self driving cars...

Kidding apart, it's nice to see Google innovating in many fronts :)


To me it looks amazing and really impressive. I kind of expected Google to release some bulky glasses as rumored, that would look like version 0.1 of such a product in the future. But I'm really impressed with what I'm seeing so far.


I'm a bit curious what self driving cars add. I live in a bike friendly town and am 36 and never had my license. Do people want to really to pass out on the drive home?

What about liability? Say the google car goes on sale and gets in a ton of wrecks due to a software bug. Who is liable? The owner of the car or Google?


Google and Microsoft show lots of possible futures for their products and research. Apple keeps most of their stuff behind curtains, so it's unclear what they're working on.


My prediction for Apple is that they'll do glasses, but will be much less ambitious and will do it's job well. Specifically I think they'll drop the camera and AR stuff. Just have a heads up display for IMs and track names so you can read messages and find music while walking. Cheaper and easier to polish, and builds on what people already do.


I very much doubt that. Glasses restrict your field of vision, your movements and change the appearance and thereby the way others see you. No one wants to wear a pair of glasses just as an additional display for your smartphone you are too lazy to take out of your pocket, the cost is just too high.

However the display part doesn't really matter, what really matters is ubiquitous environmental recognition, voice recognition - not just of yourself but of everyone around you, no matter which languages they are currently speaking - and (three dimensional) image recognition. This will completely change how people interact and explore the world and each other.


I wonder how many Google Glasses wearers will become Life Loggers? I meet them at conferences occasionally. Some people actively avoid them. There's something about standing face to face with someone taking a photo of you every X seconds that people find really unnerving. I certainly do. Real time video is worse and it's very different to CCTV.

How long before Google collects and mines all this video like they did with Google StreetView but in realtime? Combined with the huge advances in facial recognition the privacy implementations are frightening. It reminds me of the scifi film "The Entire History of You". [1]

In the future will people who want to opt out of face recognition and tracking have to wear identifiers*, e.g. QR codes, on their person when talking to Google Glasses users, much like Google's wifi policy? [2]

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Mirror_%28TV_series%29#3...

[2] http://searchengineland.com/google-announces-nomap-wifi-opto...


All the technology you're worried about exists and is widely used. Walk around the streets of New York City. Chances are, you're being photographed by people sharing photos online. My commute involves riding across the Brooklyn Bridge. I'm sure I ended up in 20 separate photographs today, many of which are now on Facebook. Likely with a comment about how I'm an asshole for riding my bicycle in the bicycle lane :) The underlying technology is not going to change once people start wearing cameras. If anything, the sheer volume of photographs being shared will make it less likely that the picture is of you.

As for facial recognition, anyone who can write a few lines of Perl could easily scrape social network profile photos and start matching pictures of people on the Internet to names. It's trivial. And doing this sort of thing manually is popular: search for "human flesh search engine".

Privacy in public just doesn't exist.


I wonder if (when?) it will become socially acceptable to wear masks in public. Or perhaps something like this: http://cvdazzle.com/

Or perhaps a combination - a semi-transparent mask that constantly displays shifting patterns, like Rorschach's mask.


I wasn't aware that "life loggers" actually exist. What sort of hardware are they wearing? Do they behave differently?


I'm pretty skeptical about people's ability to multitask like this. We all like to think we can do several things at once but many studies have shown we're basically interrupt driven single-tasking organisms. You simply cannot walk and watch where you're going while also watching something in your glasses. People think that having the screen overlaid onto reality solves the problem, but the problem isn't really visual in the first place, it's mental. Try even reading a (real) sign while walking along and you'll find you're bumping into people, dangerously strolling across roads without looking, etc.

I really want these to work, and I can see in limited situations (manually turn them on to look something up, etc.) they could. But I really deeply doubt they can work they way people are imagining.


It looks like my idea of augmented reality is different from google's.

The features and functions shown in that video were basically removing the pain of pulling your phone out of your pocket. It was, essentially, a more elegant system than strapping your phone to your face.

It's a good start for the idea of putting processing power in front of your vision, but I wouldn't buy it until it actually augments my reality. If I look at my friend it should show upcoming appointments between us. If I look at a concert poster it should bring up links for articles about the band, reviews, links to buy tickets. That would be augmentation.


Youtube promo of how it might work (is this for real or just a concept? looks too good to be true) http://youtu.be/9c6W4CCU9M4


I'm buying first gen. Then second gen. All the gens.


What scares me is there is next to no choice on buying these, particularly if they are fast. There is an extreme advantage to people having easy access to information as it is presented in the video. Moreso than smartphones, it is a game changer.


Next to no choice? You're saying people will just all want this by default?

I think most people will want to try this, myself included. But personally I draw the line here and I think many others will. I would never want to own a pair. This will be a niche product for those people who already use Bluetooth headsets, who are a minority.


"No wireless. Less space than a nomad. Lame." ;)

http://slashdot.org/story/01/10/23/1816257/apple-releases-ip...


An iPod, even when brand new, solved a problem people knew they had: it was a portable music player. That market dates back through the Sony Walkman to the transistor radio.

Unless something significant develops between now and release, I expect the average person's reaction will be to wonder why in the world they would need one. What problem would it solve for them?

That's not to say that that question can't be answered, but I do think it's fair to say that it hasn't been answered, at least not yet.


Cute winky face, but you completely miss my point. I'm not saying this is "lame," I'm saying most people won't want to wear pixels on their face. Even the most successful products get criticism, especially in the beginning.


> I'm saying most people won't want to wear pixels on their face.

You could have said the same about any number of technologies that are now ubiquitous (and many people did say those same things).

"Who wants an iPhone? Crappy virtual keyboard and the only apps are from Apple."

"Cell phones will never catch on. Anyone can call you at any time? How obnoxious. And you pay even when you didn't call? Ridiculous."

"No one will pay for TV with ads."

"No one will pay more for TV without ads."

Etc...

Times change, and the "I'd never buy this" statements become suppressed memories once everyone else owns it and you feel left out. What matters is how much benefit the product delivers. People will get over their hangups if the value is high enough.

I'm not saying that this will be an awesome product (or that it will ever even come to market). But if it is, people will buy it, and they will use it.


Yeah, but I think you're also missing the point, which is it's possible that this accessory presents such an enormous advantage to the user that to remain competitive in society you won't have a choice but to adopt it.

I'm not sure which way it'll go, but I can imagine that happening.


Fair argument, but I can't. At least from the way this video presents it this seems like it would be as much a handicap as an augment.


The original iPod was lame. It had a nice UI, but you had to already own a Mac with Firewire to even use it. But Apple kept iterating, ported iTunes to Windows, etc.


I want the API, now. All I can find on Google is Androids AR http://code.google.com/p/andar/ source. Any ideas about languages, frameworks, etc etc. I want to get ready now to start open sourcing.


Terminal emulator is what I want. SSH into my server, turn on my bluetooth keyboard, I'm 100%.


Mix in hand gestures, i foresee a day when i see people blindly staring in space waving their hands like a crazy man.


Off topic but I'm a little disappointed in their choice of the Strand. Alabaster Bookshop is right around the corner and has loads of stuff you wouldn't find at a Barnes & Noble.


While we're off topic, it's amusing that anyone would take the subway from 23rd and Park to the Strand. Perhaps Project Glass will have an option to promote healthy choices.


I want to know what it actually does and what it actually looks like at this point in time. How about a video of that?


I don't know whether to be encouraged or disturbed by the notion of having wearable cameras become socially acceptable. On one hand, I would think this could be a major crime deterrent - the idea of a "witness" could become quaint as any crime could easily be captured with a time/location stamp.

But it could also be a major altering of norms. Are women comfortable with the idea that any guy looking at them on the street can capture their image?


How is this actually any different than today? There's nothing stopping me from popping up my phone to take a picture or video in a public space. There's also nothing stopping me from wearing a pinhole camera all the time. If these became common, then obviously there would be more cameras on at all times, but the fundamentals wouldn't be any different.

It seems like the biggest difference is that if a ton of people were wearing these all the time, police couldn't tell everyone to turn them off. If they looked like normal glasses, they wouldn't even know.


I agree that in a way, this would only intensify effects of camera-equipped cellphones. I have a pet theory that ever-present camera-phones are responsible for at least some of the drop in crime in the last decade. And while the controversy has gone away, there were a lot of overblown concerns about "camera-phones in locker rooms" in the early 00's.

The difference is speed. You'd always have a camera aimed at whatever you were looking at. If you saw a mugger grab a purse, you might not have the presence of mind to fumble with your phone, but you might be able to press a button or say "take picture" (or whatever). I'd imagine that a decrease in response time could be a real deterrent.

I know there've been spy cams forever, but I'd argue that merely owning one (let alone openly displaying it) would mark you for suspicion among a lot of people and I don't think they're widely used. I'm not saying it's the end of the world, but there are some new privacy norms that will be established if these are to take off.


You've not heard of lifelogging? It was mentioned up/down thread. It's hardly common at the moment but the privacy concerns are older than Google as a company.


That was my first thought. It would be hard to relax when you know that everything you do may be recorded... The bad joke I just made? My attempt at dancing? Expressing your feelings on a bad day? A date gone wrong?

With social networks and internet, managing one's "online identity" and privacy is increasingly important. Everything you say online might be stored and retrieved later. It's hard enough when you are an adult. But what about kid/teenn, who is still trying to find his identity, and might say things that he regrets later on?

What happens when real life is logged?


I wonder if they use a laser to do range finding.

While asking for public input into what they should be able to do, it is clear the real value is that all Google employees can wear them, where they can stream snippets of other teams that are working on other parts of your project to you so that you can co-ordinate with your team. This should really streamline the release process, allowing groups of Googler's to get way more done than they would working alone and relying on email or other social media tools to co-ordinate. Creating dynamic hang outs, streaming the feeds of those around you, allowing for collective action against problems and to respond immediately and on target with just the right resources. A real break through in organizational efficiency.

The only hangup is that the legendary mobility of people in Google, being able to switch jobs almost at will, means that trying to hard code names into the stream is really time consuming. The current work around is to just use numbers for the groups, so if you're the group working on adding Picasa support which is group number 15 on the p pages, you might be referred to as 3 of 15 ...


Looking at the potential for this technology, and seeing that it being used for what amounts to nothing more than shoving your iphone in your face 24/7 is bothersome. It's just an incremental step towards being on Facebook a little bit more. Why isn't this technology being developed for surgeons? Mechanics? Engineers? Police? Disabled people?

Well, the answer's obvious: it's not where the money is. It's sad that actual advancement to our society is only getting the funding through piggy-backing on our increasing intrusive means of entertainment.


That's a pretty neat concept video, but of course it's more than likely just a well produced concept video. Hopefully the real thing can live up to it.

One thing I did think about after seeing the concept photos they have on the Google+ page (https://plus.google.com/111626127367496192147/posts) and in this NYT article, what about us poor people not gifted with 20/20 vision? But again they are probably just concept images and shouldn't really be taken as much more than that.


From the article:

There are reportedly dozens of other shapes and variations of the glasses in the works, some of which can sit over a person’s normal eyeglasses.


I can see a great use of this for technical work on hardware that requires huge amounts of documentation (say aircraft maintenance).

The glasses the way they're designed are smart, not in between but rather in a fixed spot and only a part of the field of view. I definitely wouldn't want a computer screen between my eyes and 'the real world' in normal day to day life. Believing what my eyes see is important to me and with another layer in between you'll never know whether you are reacting to an overlay or the real thing. Especially if the images are created with input from a remote source which opens all kinds of interesting possibilities. Superimpose a picture of a traffic accident on the glasses of someone that is driving and you could very well end up with the real thing.

Seeing is believing they say and the response to visual input can be very reflexive. Audio alone can be distracting enough.

So google seems to have that part done right, it'd be great to play around with these.


Chris Esposito at Boeing in the early 1990's worked on such a project: aircraft maintenance augmented using "VR glasses" concurrently developed at the Human Interface Technology Lab in Seattle.

I suspect that this is his profile: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/chris-esposito/5/673/785


On the opposite side they could have made not another display, but a whole new tool. A new interface for manipulating dynamic content. Preferably with your hands. Eliminating objects, laptops, touch displays...

However there are some clear points why did they choose this path:

- they only needed to make the display tech. Everything other could come later.

- the lifelogging aspect could get hyped, making the whole thing sexy.

But still I am a bit dissapointed, now let's jump on hand and object recognition!


I don't know whether the technology is there, but I could see AR glasses being paired with a (RFID? Bluetooth?) ring you wear as a pointing device. The demo uses speech but I haven't found the Google voice search very impressive so I have my doubts.

Put it on your finger (or if a cheap and small RFID chip, glue it onto your fingernail, or even paint each of your fingernails with invisible slightly radioactive nail polish), pair it with your glasses and you can use your finger(s) as a pointing device in the AR overlay.

Depending on input resolution, the movements could be subtle -- you don't have to raise your hands as if conducting an orchestra although that would be fun to see. Wiggle your fingers to control your headset.

Or how about keyboard trousers. Invisible areas on the outside of your trousers that you can tap as a small 10-key keyboard.


I've been following wearable computing for very long time. Since Dr Steve Mann's eyetap and early MIT media lab http://www.media.mit.edu/wearables/ and http://www.remem.org/ with chording keyboard and HUD is how I wanted future to work.

These glasses look 1/2 as good as prototype and they are hackable at all, then the future is near. And look matters. I don't have problem stickin out. But many situations having bunch of wires and contraptions on your head is stickin out too far. esp now days that people think lightbrites are WMDs.

Very, very excited.


Interesting that, in the demo video, he "shares to his circles" rather than to a specific circle. Even in the Google+ future, it's easier to share with everyone than to segment everyone endlessly.


They've changed this on the main site as well. They know most people are just blasting everything, so that's the default now (at least for me).


I want face recognition. No more "Hello er, ah, hello! How are you?" moments.

I also want a version that shoots laser beams into my eye.

(http://slashdot.org/articles/99/04/15/2058223_F.shtml)

(http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/3647437.stm)

Combined with a chording keyboard (Frogpad (except they don't seem to be making them anymore) or "The Twiddler" and I can be happy when commuting.


As much as I like the design, I think Google should first aim at making them look as inconspicuous as possible by making it look like a normal piece of eyewear.

There are very few visible pieces of technology that we carry and display in public (probably only glasses and watches). Visible wearable technology has a long history of being either geeky or douchebaggish (bluetooth headsets). I'm suspecting the current incarnation of Google's glasses would elicit both perceptions.


To be honest, the glasses look way more minimalistic than I was thinking. I was expecting something like full sunglasses - maybe even ones that are bit bulkier. So from what point of view I'm very impressed.

But I agree that if they got this far already, they can probably make them even more minimalistic in version 2.0 or 3.0. But really, they look very modern already. Kind of like some of the best looking bluetooth headsets out there - just longer.


I could name you dozen of IT companies that unveiled concept for a product that's basically same as this. The only and real question is - can Google pull it off?


I just want to lay on the beach this vacations, but my cellphone doesn't stop to ring, I'm attached to my job with my cellphone, and if I turn it off, it's just rude. This glasses are a real nightmare for me.


This is a problem with your job or possibly your work ethic, not your phone.


Why would that be rude? On the contrary, I'd consider the people calling you while you're on vacation rude.


We did a lot of research into AR headsets in my last job. Four years ago they already had a fully functional system that would "project" 3D organs into a plastic cadaver, which could be manipulated with a scalpel-like stylus.

There were two key problems - one was the weight (resulting in wearer fatigue), and the other was the refresh rate which caused nausea during prolonged use. Neither of these are significant barriers, and given Moore's Law I wouldn't be surprised if these things are as ubiquitous as smartphones in 5-10 years.


This has the potential to be huge, especially since it's the brainchild of Google. One thing I noticed is that they didn't showcase object recognition of any type in the promo video. When I heard they were testing these glasses, Google Goggles is the first thing that came to mind. It would be really useful to auto-search objects by simply looking at them and issuing a command. I'm sure it's on their roadmap, if it's not already live in the glasses alpha/beta product.


Although Google will make this more popular due to their marketing efforts and brand, it's hardly their brainchild.

Tom Furness developed similar devices decades ago: Once out of the military lab, this was a key project of the Human Interface Technology Lab at UW in Seattle in the early 1990's.

Updating for smaller chips and components contributes to the current form-factor which includes the front-facing camera not present in the earliest versions.

The upside of course is that this might finally get some traction with Google's budget and efforts.



The hardware to display the AR in the glasses is not what I am concerned about. What makes me doubt this is the software that will do the speech analysis, and image analysis. Based on how much less than human our current attempts of these are (eg. Google Goggles, Siri), it will be a miracle if this develops into a product which ranks above in practical usability than its entertainment value.


Interesting that that the intro video also seems to be a subtle demonstration of new natural language commands. Kind of a clever way of minimizing "Siri" by packaging it into something much bigger. I'm curious how some of the actions are initiated - the video implies that visual recognition/location awareness/voice commands initiate the search, but I wonder if a button is also pressed.


Why does the Google promo video make me feel icky? I already feel like my attachment to my iPhone is not healthy, I literally feel lost when I don't have it nearby.

I might be too old to get excited about stuff like this. I suppose if it helped with my work I would use it, but otherwise I really enjoy looking directly at the world.


If the other engineers are anything like Thad Starner (Georgia Tech professor), this will be an amazing thing! Thad has being working on very similar projects for ages and cannot be found without his laptop in a bag and screen on his glasses.


Soon: "Girls around Me" app for Google Glasses.


I really hope this sees the light of day and they are able to execute on it the way it looks in the video. Unfortunately, I have seen too many cool videos come from research labs or highly paid scientists/engineers at tech companies and nothing ever comes of it - or rather, in a meaningful way to me anyway. Microsoft surface anyone?

One of the things I LOVE about Apple is...if they released this video, I know I could expect to see it on store shelves in a month or at most a few months. Sometimes even as little as a few weeks.

That's awesome.

With this....only God He knows when we will ever see this.


Since I was a kid I always dreamed of making a wearable goggles that will let you see the world very differently, like seeing another dimension. Advertising wasn't part of the idea....lol


Seems like a cool product but glasses are a thing of the past. People moved to using contacts because of the annoyance of glasses, and wearing them all day can actually hurt my ears and nose. And once we start taking them off and putting them in our pockets while not using them, they become a phone with less features.

I want something like this, maybe in a pair of contacts, but even contacts can be irritating. How about a genetically engineered eyeball?


You want the display to overlay the environment. Contact lenses move with your eyeball - glasses don't. This means that you would need to precisely track the lenses somehow - probably with an apparatus affixed to your head. => Glasses are preferrable.

Regarding genetically engineered eyeballs: what if they get a virus?


Only a matter of time before someone implements something along the lines of "Girls Around Me" for this thing, only it would be "Girl I'm Looking At."


I believe that if the product is good then it doesn't matter if you keep it under wrap or give a peek to people. Google believes in iterative model and they are keeping that. If they pull it off and sell it in 300-500 $ I can imagine seeing a lot of people wearing these and updating their facebook timelines and twitter :), so now we all know why they call Android, and Android


A big question is how soon these can function as a standalone device, or whether they would be tethered to a phone in your pocket first.

Otherwise, are they much more than a head mount display accessory for Android?

Head mount displays for mobile computers have been in industrial use for some time - e.g. http://www.stereo3d.com/hmd.htm


is it a mistake releasing concept videos far ahead of the state of the art?

hopefully what google announces at i/o will be shockingly advanced


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