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Google Announces Project Glass (plus.google.com)
272 points by indiefan on Apr 4, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 102 comments

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.

Also face blindness, or people with failing memory. Imagine if this system could automatically detect friends based on their face and summon their names and relevant context (recent calendar appointments, pictures, etc.)

heck, I think that a huge portion of the population would like that. I need to meet a person twice to remember their name, Having a thing that blips up "This is Eric, You met him 3 weeks ago at a workshop" would be worth early adopting.

I'm with you. I can't think of anything more exciting in the tech world today than the potential for AR available to the masses. The potential applications are mind blowing. One example I can think of off the top of my head is developing an internal application for a manufacturer's warehouse staff. The glasses could detect QR codes on boxes making picking and shipping products simple. You might be shocked how much work goes into ensuring that the right parts are picked from a pick-list. That's one small example. I can think of dozens more.

As someone who has terrible vision, I've been waiting for this type of thing for years. I have trouble reading menus at fast food restaurants or street signs. The ability to just pull up context aware information in front of my eyes would be amazing. I looked into doing it myself with some AR goggles, but the cameras in them just were not good enough yet.

I've loved this idea ever since I read about the glasses in Accelerando[1], and I can't wait for a project like this that gets to market, especially if it is open source.

[1] http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/fiction/accelera...

If you have an iOS device then I highly recommend Lumin: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/lumin/id480343142?mt=8

Can you expand a bit more on the autism thing? I admittedly don't know much about autism, but I was under the impression that a big hurdle was the fact that an autistic person is very routine 'dependent'. So, when there is a novel event like go to the movies and it breaks routine, it can be very difficult to cope with the break in routine

Am I just thinking of a different symptom, so to speak, of autism?

Good question!

So, the first answer is "Yes, for the most part, they are routine dependent." However, this isn't always the case. My son, for example, isn't as routine dependent as others are. He's perfectly fine with a differing routine. So, while routine is a part of autism, this doesn't define autism.

However, this can still be resolved by preparing the autistic person with the routine. So again, they can prepare for the movies by watching the video of walking down the street, and the actual activities involved. Or, let's say, letting them see where they are going before they get there. See the insides, see what's there, what's involved.

Finally, even if it was a big hurdle, it's still a hurdle that needs to be overcome, and the task tool I'm referring to is there to help overcome that. Again, by preparing them, and then prompting them while they are going about their day, it helps to reassure them, and they become more independent.

Good question though. Thank you for asking it!

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

Get in touch with them!

Trust me, I'm working on it! Need to get a hold of this team. I'm working with someone building an app for Autistic and disabled people, and while a phone is great... this is just... she'll be awestruck.

I have one lead in this area - a former colleague in my robotics institute is clearly working with Sebastian Thrun now judging by the similar photos of bees both of them posted to G+ and FB recently. He also won't tell us which company he works for, so it's a pretty good bet! :-)

I'll see what I can get out of him, but I'm guessing it'll be nothing at all...

This is an awesome market - many of the enabling devices are clunky and terribly expensive - so to come out with something more accessible is wonderful.

also: http://www.businessweek.com/technology/the-ipads-secret-abil...

I second the parent. This is a use case I, to my embarrassment, would not have thought of.

Regardless of whether or not the Glass team is as oblivious as I am (they're probably not), your passion and drive in this area means you would certainly add value.

I might even allow deaf people to hear spoken words, or to know which direction a loud noise is coming from.

I dunno, maybe I'm a Luddite but I don't think the tendency to never be disconnected is good for the human psyche. I know that personally my own mental well being tends to suffer if I don't let myself have considerable stretches of time where I'm not consuming any information.

Also, though cool, the video is probably a pretty inaccurate representation of what that tech would actually get used for. It shows some guy getting directions, scheduling events, and meeting friends. Nice enough, but the reality is that, like most mobiles, it's probably more likely to be used for Facebook addiction and sending pointless text messages.

[I guess the answer is "yes", I'm becoming a Luddite.]

Daydreaming and "wasting time" are correlated with creativity and insight. There is a tendency these days to trivialize the mind by being permanently preoccupied with little things, like checking the news, checking the social network, checking the email - things that require a narrow, restricted perspective and effectively kill wider thoughts.

This is akin to eating junk food. There is an innate tendency in us to consume this sort of garbage (burgers, email updates), and it seems nourishing and useful in the short term, but over a longer range it may well prove disastrous.

Just like we learned to keep our instincts in check and avoid junk food, we may have to learn to keep the trivia-hungry part of our brains in a leash, and once in a while, or perhaps several times a day, purposefully unplug from the data hive and let the mind soar, roam, wander, or whatever it is that it wants to do.

So, I'd say, the answer is "no", you're not a Luddite, you're pointing out an important issue.

On the flip side, it'll probably be used for constant Wikipedia lookups and trivializing boring organizational work. Computers streamline memorization and scheduling and my agenda and a thousand other things that would normally disrupt my thought processes and interrupt whatever idea I was having. My computer is an extension of myself, and I am a better human for it, because I can spend more time exerting the consciousness that separates me from every other animal on earth.

The potential for this kind of tech so far exceeds what's being shown in the demo it boggles the mind. The demo itself is pretty depressing: it implies all this tech is destined for is to provide a hands-off interface for phone apps.

For an example of real-world uses of AR (that don't involve hipsters or food trucks) check this out: http://www.popsci.com/technology/article/2009-10/augmented-r...

I think the videos main point is that they're bringing it main stream, as a new multiple times a day tech for the average person

No doubt developers will do some amazing things with it when we finally get some practical hardware

Like it or not, that seems to be the trend. People find it harder and harder to live "off the Internet", especially if they've grown up with it. Take it away from them for a couple of days and they will really miss it. There was even a survey asking people for what sum of money will they quit the Internet forever. I don't remember seeing anyone from the interview saying they would take the deal. They just couldn't imagine themselves never using the Internet again.

I guess once you get used to talking with anyone, anywhere in the world, and with so much access to any information you want, anything less seems like isolation.

Our society is moving a lot of things to the Internet. Banishing yourself forever from the Internet means effectively cutting yourself off from that. For example, right now 'no Internet' might not mean 'no TV,' but I could see that being the case in another decade. You can't necessarily say an unwillingness to give up the Internet forever implies that people are addicted to the 'Internet firehose.'

These, like smartphones, do not have to be used all the time. There's no reason you can't wear them when you'd like to be connected... you'd be crazy NOT to take them off.

The best souvenir I have of the last month are those fifteen minutes spent with kid, wife and friends resting on a rock inside a forest hill around Beijing: we had no 3g, no network, no thoughts, just thee silence and the soft wind. So yes, having no connection will become a blessing.

99% of the technology is having a really good connection either wifi or your phone company's wireless data.

I remember when I got a Nexus One and tried showing off the Google Translate app to co-workers; one Japanese, one Portuguese, one Bosnian but it took so long to connect it was embarrassing. I managed to get some Japanese translated after about 10 minutes.

Now I have a Samsung Galaxy S 2 (translate still sucks) through my phone company it has HSPA+ (21Mbps) but I have yet to consistently get anything above 3Mbps, I tend to get 1Mbps.

Also imagine this in a movie theatre or some place where they claim everything is copyrighted place or even walking towards police in a country where taking video of police could get you arrested.

It seems simple enough but holy can of worms Batman!

Not to mention that Google would be empowered to a live/recorded stream of video of every user.

That's a whole other can of worms for ya.

Coming up, put a Google chip on your brain and think like Google.

  A few years ago Google wanted to record a few seconds of sound from the homes of people using the microphones/speakers on their computers. 

  I'm quite sure it was the computer speaker since not every computer has a microphone but most if not all have speakers and a speaker is really a just a reverse microphone.

 People freaked out over that so I'd say recording live streams of video would be worse especially considering some things people may be looking at each day would be very private.

Google would be empowered to a live/recorded stream of video of every user.

This sounds like the kind of feature that some users would embrace, and could even become a selling point. Remember justin.tv?

Very cool. Except...

They forgot to show the "Ukulele $350" ad that pops up when he looks at the book. Also, "Monsieur Gayno Boxed Set - $24.95", "Feet hurt? Try walking shoes from Reebok!" and "John Smith for Mayor! I'll make the trains run on time."

Just like all the ads you get when installing Chrome or browsing Google Code?

Google does make a lot of money on advertising, but that's because it's impossible to not make money on advertising. Google could literally fire 99% of its employees and we would still make money on ads because it's that easy. You could probably start an ad company today and have a steady income next week. (You need a web server, someone with content to "monetize", and someone with an ad. Pretty simple.)

What's hard is figuring out how to make money once the easiest source of money dries up. (It's sort of like why we don't have solar-powered cars yet: because burning decomposed dinosaurs is so easy that any attempt to do something else seems impossible.) Future products you see from Google will be less about advertising and more about something else. That's why we have web browsers and open source projects and self-driving cars and space elevators. Try everything, see what makes us more money than advertising, then do more stuff like that.

Ah yes the old "Google is evil ad company" shtick. You see an impressive new technology and this is the only way you can frame it to initiate a discussion??

But actually your scenario sounds plausible if Google was the most ignorant, narrow minded, child-like version of an ad network. If they have any smart people at all working at Google, I think that they would have a much wider, longer-term vision in which they can generate value from more than just bombarding you with ads in the most direct, obvious way possible. If they feel at all compelled to stay relevant and profitable for the longest amount of time possible, then they are working on that right now.

Given Google's recent change in trend, where do you think it stands?

I can see that it would initially be relevant, than it would gradually stray and become increasingly flooded with obvious ad bombarding and irrelevancy, much like what Google did to search.

The recent change in trend has never shocked me like the very small shocked few. A lot of people will say something like "Google is creepy!" and then turn around and do 10 searches on it that day in between checking their Gmail.

It'll be only a matter of time before it's rooted and running AdBlock. :)

It's worth noting that Google devices typically do not need to be rooted. For example, Chromebooks have a switch you flip if you want root. (And, Google even advertises AdBlock in the Chrome Web Store. So it's not certain that you will be forced to see ads in Glass.)

It's the cell-phone carriers (or OEMs) that want to sell you non-rooted devices, and that's a battle even Apple hasn't won.

I'm not sure Apple is fighting very hard(or at all) about this. That would make them loose a lot of the control they need for the Appstore etc...

With an additional feature of blocking real-life ads on billboards & stuff :). I'd die to get that one.

I'm fairly certain that being dead will have exactly the intended effect here - no more real-life ads and billboards :)

Or the add for the same book cheaper at Amazon...

I will pay a couple of bucks for ad-block for my spectacles.

I know it has been said a thousand times, but Google could really take a cue from Apple on how to launch a new product. The "closed beta" approach generates a good deal of hype, but prevents early adopters from buying or using your product, which is insane! Google is tipping their hand to the competition. It may seem far-fetched that anyone else is working on a wearable computer like this, but I guarantee Google is not alone. If Google is slow to bringing this to market (which wouldn't surprise anyone), then this announcement gives Samsung/Apple/lots of others a chance to catch up in a potentially new market.

Ugh. Google, you have so many cool ideas and so little business acumen.

Also, you're immediately setting up your product for a negative reception. People expect all the cool stuff and tight integration shown in the concept video. If you can't deliver that...

Huh, I thought the video was actually really depressing except for two features: taking a picture to send to my friends, and sharing a stream of what I'm looking in a video call. I guess I don't really see the value of putting apps in my eyes. But I do see a ton of value in sharing my eyes and having people share their eyes with me.

I see the value. For example, I like to monitor my heart rate and speed while running. To do that, I have to move my hand out of ideal running form and look at my watch. With a wearable display, I can continue looking straight ahead to check on my information. Same goes for maps while driving or walking around.

I think a wearable computer that seamless integrates with me will be like having a friend that's always around. If you've ever asked someone, "oh, do we turn left here", then you have a use for a computer that can answer the same question.

I just saw a jogger this sunday, who had an acoustical feedback of his pulse. Zurich, Switzerland. Might be an immediate solution to your problem.

Yeah. I have a Garmin running watch that I can program to beep when my pulse is outside a range I set. But I really like to see the numbers. (It's easier when I'm cycling.)

I think you could be mistaking Google's master plan here. It would be quite simple for Google to not be the manufacturer, but instead be the "android" for the glasses. Just a thought.

I hadn't considered that. I guess Google could be planning to license their "Android-for-glasses" to OEMs. Then Apple can easily step in and make a unified user experience/hardware platform that will out-do Google's ;)

> Ugh. Google, you have so many cool ideas and so little business acumen.

Yeah, they became a 200 billion dollar company without business acumen.

This is great an everything, but I think Google really needs to concentrate on many of their half baked solutions they currently have. I am a huge fan of Google, but with their whole social drive recently and this (their take on augmented reality which to be honest just looks like another was of wrapping you into their facebook clone rather than providing any real context aware information) I'm beginning to feel they are really loosing it. I just bought a chromebook (as a lightweight browsing machine) and im massively disappointed because its just such a terribly laggy, glitchy and frustrating experience. Its very quickly becoming a 300 quid paper weight.

Google have many brilliant sounding pie in the sky ideas, but when it comes down to it they have to really ask themselves, will people actually be able to use this? Is it really worth chasing after this or will they concentrate their efforts and resources on other more achievable things.

If you're into this stuff, check out Steve Mann, who's been doing wearable tech since the 80's: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_Mann http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DiFtmrpuwNY

Don't forget Ted Nelson's Juggernaut :) (first wearable computer, around 1974).

PS: For some reason there's very little information about this one on the internet, I probably should check Xanadu instead.

"Not in-game footage".

Just like the Google tablet mock-up video vs reality. Anyone can craft a mock-up video. Not everyone can execute on it, and in recent years Google isn't doing well on that score.

How do you solve the most obvious problems of focus? Is there a really strong lens on the front of this thing?

I keep thinking of this problem when I hear about things like heads-up contact lenses and so on. It is a tremendous eyestrain for me to focus on anything within a meter, and so I'm often relaxing my eyes by looking away from my laptop at distant things. Within 10-20 cm or so it is extremely difficult to focus on anything; within 10cm it is actively impossible.

So are they really using a lens that can make a 1cm-away display look like it's 100cm away?

the video makes this technology look awesome. But I am still skeptical to how well it will actually work.

"one that helps you explore and share your world, putting you back in the moment."

uhmm, am I not in the moment when I walk the streets without popup notifications on my eyes?

This reminds me of "Use the force Luke". I hope people don't start walking around with things like this all the time. I feel like in a 10 years people will walk around talking to themselves all the time and acting quite odd for today's standards ;p (I still find the people talking on handsfree cells phones weird at times.)

Oh, I'm pretty sure they will, and probably rather less than 10 years. The interesting part will be how well the overlays can be meshed in with the "real" world.

Guessing this may be the first technology I'll make fun of my kids for using. The mock-up looks pretty cool is any case.

The entire photo-taking thing is a bit funny - with the price of storage the way it is, there probably isn't much harm in leaving the camera recording by default and have the user turn it off temporarily if they wish. There's no telling how many amazing photos you could take in a single day with technology like that.

I guess the flip side of that coin is the massive surveillance potential if these glasses are controlled by a third party like mobile phones are; they're even worse than mobile phones because they spend most of the day on your head rather than in your pocket.

I hope they will do something about people who already wear glasses for various reasons. May be project images on to existing glasses ?

A little off-topic. "Articles" like these make me think Google+ has become a blogging platform more and a social network less.

It really is, and it was kind of designed for that. Robert Scoble mentioned that he likes useing Google+ now more than sharing his news on Facebook or a Twitter link to his blog because he gets much more engagement from Google+. It's Blogger meets Wave with a built-in social network to allow for sharing things to other people. Google+ was never meant to be "Facebook... but by Google!" like I sometimes hear people talking about.

This looks ridiculous.

In fact, it does not. That's perhaps the best thing about the designs currently shown - they look like something a normal, even attractive human being might wear in public. For the first time, I'm starting to take this project seriously. The key, of course, will be the integration with the environment and the internet. But if the project dies, it will leave a good-looking corpse!

I meant that the whole notion of a HUD interface built into my glasses looks ridiculous.

For me the key is making them inconspicuous, or at least look like normal glasses. I can't imagine adoption if they're bulky or have logos on them.

Unless the logos are from Armani etc. Glasses already have logos on them.

Just got a new pair of glasses. Currently there are Nike, Adidas, Harley Davidson and Armani (among many others). But the multi color Google logo...not so much.

The geek side of me wants you to be right...but I really don't think women will want to wear this "dork tech".

How many women do you see with bluetooth headsets?

Plenty? In public there's definitely just as many women as men. Though I don't see too many around here in total :p

We're living in the future now.

please say I'm not the only person who thought of the "eyePhone" from Futurama.

Videos are fun and all, but I want an SDK!

(Seriously, even if it's still pretty crude...)

Great. Now we'll have Google Ads projected into our retinas.

Personally I'm holding out hope that Google collectively has enough sense not to torpedo this exciting new technology by turning it into a wearable AR billboard system. While I could totally see voluntary opt-in for merchant ad displays while walking around in downtown, I'm pretty sure it would have to be voluntary.

I'm optimistic that Google realizes they aren't going to be able to get away with anything more invasive than what's considered "acceptable" behavior for a smartphone. Example: I don't have merchants sending me unsolicited SMS whenever I'm within 200 yards of their storefront.

It doesn't need to be an active system. Google could monetize the hell out of it just by showing advertisers how effective their billboards, posters, and audio commercials are in the environment through passive collection.

There's an interesting idea, and one I wouldn't object to.


oh man, someone needs to trademark iGlass NOW

Too late. They do network monitoring solutions. (iglass.net)

iSpecs? Maybe iShades?


iSee or iC


Why didn't the guy just use his glasses to purchase the ukulele book from an online source? Say, Google Play?

He's not shown paying for it. He could have scanned the ISBN and purchased it automatically (or put it in his wishlist for purchase later)

I didn't see any situation in this video where glasses would be superior to what I could do on my phone now.

The big step up is that you don't need to take these glasses out of your pocket every time you want to use them. Phones can't really serve as an "extension of the self" because you don't walk around with them in your hand all the time.

Using "always on" eye-devices would allow them to become second nature. Name/face/voice association would be automatic, looking up a word definition would be accessing slow memory instead of an annoying context-switch. A lot of the difference is not in that you can do something with these glasses, it's that you will.

prediction: by end of 2015 these will be as popular as iPhone and iPad. the future will have arrived : ) woohoo. http://clippedcomic.blogspot.ca/2012/04/google-glasses.html

This is super cool and all, but it's all fun and games until someone walks in front of a car.

I think with these glasses I might be less likely to do that as often as I already do poking at my cellphone while I walk around the city.

Prescription retro style inspired glasses please.

And I bought sunglasses today. Dang.

where is the hardware? (processing hardware, power supply, and antennas)

Googly Eyes(tm)

This looks like a copy of TEDx Sixth Sense by Pranav Mistry.


Its too bad Microsoft's not doing this. I was rather hoping for Clippy to make a comeback ;)

For those that don't know Clippy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Office_Assistant

I guess HN people don't like my sense of humor. Oh well..

What percentage of the population wears glasses now? If you believe the 150 million (1) number, than less than half the population.

How many people can you convince to wear glasses that do not normally?

What about sun glasses? Will I need two pair of Googgles (2)? One for day, one for night?

Do you really think young women (or men) are going to wear these things?

My bet is that this project goes no where with Google in its current form. If anyone has a chance, it's Apple. Apple is the only large company with enough style to make something like this cool/socially acceptable.

If you can make the Camera etc, invisible, then that's a whole different story.

1) http://www.aao.org/newsroom/press_kit/upload/Eye-Health-Stat...

2) my term

How many people can you convince to wear glasses that do not normally?

Probably the same number of people you can convince to buy and carry a metallic/plastic rectangle in their pockets everywhere. If it offers utility at an affordable price, people will embrace it.

My bet is that this project goes no where with Google in its current form. If anyone has a chance, it's Apple. Apple is the only large company with enough style to make something like this cool/socially acceptable.

Steve Jobs hired someone from MIT a few years ago who was a leading researcher in wearable computing (http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/03/16/apple-hires-wearabl...). Apple has likely been working on such a device for some time.

It makes sense for Google to work on something too. How far will Google Glass go? Who knows. This is a public unveiling of a research project, rather than something that'll be sold in stores tomorrow (maybe by year-end though). There's probably a lot left to go before you can buy one, at which point it'll be a good time to evaluate it if it's any good or not.

> How many people can you convince to wear glasses that do not normally?

It's fashionable (on the wane) at the moment. Lots of people are wearing frames with plain glass lenses.

> What about sun glasses? Will I need two pair of Googgles (2)? One for day, one for night?

The article covers this point - there will be a version that fits on existing glasses.

> Do you really think young women (or men) are going to wear these things?

Define young, and who cares? People with the money would, if there was a use. Link these to certain professions and I could see people deliberately, just as annoying students wear their lab coats out of the labs.

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