Google's augmented reality glasses project

Google just announced their augmented reality project. It's called Project Glass. From the announcement on Google+:

 -1M-Xahcoeoa T3Xuidbirpi Aaaaaaaaaci A Kkzq830Za S502 Glass Photos4We think technology should work for you—to be there when you need it and get out of your way when you don’t.

A group of us from Google[x] started Project Glass to build this kind of technology, one that helps you explore and share your world, putting you back in the moment. We’re sharing this information now because we want to start a conversation and learn from your valuable input. So we took a few design photos to show what this technology could look like and created a video to demonstrate what it might enable you to do.

"Project Glass"


  1. Since Google is an advertising company, and I’m a little cynical, I instantly remembered another augmented reality demo video from a couple years ago. This is probably what Glass will ACTUALLY be like: 

      1. I’ll be fascinated to see what the creatures of places like 4chan end up using it for

    1. That’s fine. It won’t be long until they’re jailbroken and running custom roms.

      It’ll just be a newer version of what I did back in college when NetZero was actually a free, ad-based internet access service. You just found the folder where the application stored the rotating ads and replaced them with empty image files.

    1. case in point: the guy in the video walks from 2nd Ave and St. Marks to the 23rd St 6 station to take the train a 15 minute walk back to the neighborhood he just left.

        1. And buying a book in a bookstore?  You know he’d just scan the barcode and order one from Amazon.

    2.  Yeah, I found myself thinking, wow – heads-up navigation will totally kill people’s sense of direction.

      …You know how FF plugins get broken by the silly new version system? For the last few months, I’ve gone without a spellchecker, thanks to hassles with the Australian dictionary… and I figure, since it involved remembering how to spell stuff, it’s worth the trouble.

        1.  Come on, that concept’s so obsolete it was quaint when I was a kid.

          My spelling was always good but suffered from technological assistance; my penmanship was never worth a damn.

          1. That’s because you weren’t born when spelling assistance was ubiquitous. For example my spelling of ubiquitous was just corrected there.  

  2. Does anyone else get the feeling like the only reason this video and announcement exist is to buzz market Google+?

    1. No. I could go into reasons why I’m tired of the persistent ‘Google+ is dead’ meme, but why bother? You choose to believe otherwise and by this point there’s probably little i can say that would convince you otherwise.

      It reminds me of those old ATT ‘you will’ commercials.

      1. Here’s one thing I want in an augmented reality system…
        Standing in front of a wall of similar products, I want the ones distributed or manufactured by companies I don’t want to support to be marked red. Every user can opt in to whatever metric of approval they want, but for me, that seems like the only way to really encourage “good citizen” behavior on the part of corporations.

        For anyone offended at the idea of that kind of consumer empowering transparency, please note your corporate affiliations so I can add them to my filter.

    2.  you forget that the glasses come with little Google+ electrodes that give you urges to give +1’s.  unfortunately they also make you walk in circles.

  3. Start a conversation? Has anyone ever tried to contact Google? Utterly impossible.

    What they mean is “We’ll do what we want to anyway, as we don’t care what you think”. Watch as we waste our time on novelties, April Fool’s jokes and more while we don’t fix fundamental issues with our other products.

    1. Has anyone ever tried to contact Google? Utterly impossible.

      Seriously.  They are the last company on Earth to understand conversing with the public, that’s for sure.

      1. Verizon has an slightly different attitude.  Have you ever tried to change anything about your Verizon Wireless account on their website?  That interface has been broken for years and years now, and the automated phone tree isn’t any better.  I have to find an operator to perform even the simplest account changes.  It seems they actually prefer to talk to people.

        Maybe they’re just lonely.

  4. Always wonder how these sorts of things work for people who have to wear prescription glasses.

    1. according to what i’ve read, they are also planning a version that clips on existing eyewear, and another one that accommodates bifocals.

      1. Good cameras and most binoculars have diopter adjustments that could work for a pretty good range of users. The rest could be easily customized.  Indeed, a generation or two down the road, these could autofocus to relieve eyestrain, even to gradually correct some conditions.

        And why not zoom and capture? Replay?

        I can’t begin to imagine the uses of these. Imagine the medical applications…

        Hell, I can’t wait to have them for measuring cuts on the fly in woodworking… or for tagging the right bolts in a mixed jar of metric and english so I quit damaging my telescope mounts using American hardware.

        It’s just the next step of input/output, but isn’t that pretty amazing?

        1.  …or for pointing out hotties on the street in case you missed them, and then recording a video clip for later… enjoyment.  XD

    1. Ha, I noticed that too.  I guess the premise might be that the bookstore’s website developer added their blueprint to their site and made it compatible with this Google thing.  Sounds plausible for some bookstores nowadays, I guess.

    2. I think it’s a used bookstore. Notice how all the books are one-offs. Good condition, but not a bookstore that’s got 5 or 10 copies of whatever the distributor bothered to put in the bin for them this week.

      1. The Strand is both new and used.  They pretty much have everything.  If you ever make it to town, it’s worth a visit.

        1. Which led me to ask whether it was named after the street in London home to Penguin, etc. Which led me to discover that yes, yes it was.

    3. I think people will still want physical copies, and instantly, and used copies, for price and novelty reasons. A $4 used paperback is cheaper than the $11 digital copy of it – and probably will be for near eternity.

  5. “Tell us, grandad, how did people meet their friends or take the subway or buy things before they had near-field communication, image-recognition technology, GPS, ubiquitous 4G wireless connections, and a massively distributed virtual hypernetwork to make it all work for them?”

    1. Hell, I already feel like that.  I remember when I actually had to make *plans* and think about how I was going to go someplace *before* I went there and be on *time* because someone would be waiting for me and wondering where I was.  Dark ages.

      1.  The dissonance between your comment and your username should not go unremarked upon.

    2. Well, kiddo, we weren’t so lucky! We had illnesses back then! And diabeetus, too. Millions of Americans had that, and tens of millions had to have corrective lenses. Millions were overweight. Also, we tended to die a lot, and only lived — can you believe it — mostly until we were eighty! Crazy, I know!

  6. I my experience Google’s voice recognition would have sent “Beat me foot strangle boots” instead of “Meet me in front of Strand Books”.  Also when it turns out the subway is closed, why didn’t it give bike directions? There was a bike right there and Google could have easily found a page on how to steal it.

    1. Or someone hacks into it and has everyone wearing these glasses get redirected outside of some random strip club in an impromptu, unwitting flash mob.

      1. The Pied Piper results once law enforcement decides to get in on the act will be a new level of tragicomedy.

    2. A while back I was on a walk and had inspiration strike.  I was working on something in Python at home, and wanted to try something out in the console.  I checked the Play Store (ugh), didn’t find an interactive shell, so I tapped on the voice search button and said, “interactive python shell for Android.”  A moment later, I had several search results for “fuck a raccoon on Android.”

        1. Pfft, heteronormative much?

          Last I checked nearly all LGBT people have some sort of genitalia.

          Pfft, Anal implant? I’ve already got three of their largest prototypes up in there. I’m not holding out.

    1.  Oh no! You poor thing! You got the 2nd gen ocular implant? Way back in 2036? Haha, how’s seeing everything in 800×640 res with a not-so-sharp magenta palate? :(

  7. I’d totally wear a revision that only shuns cliché and helps the wearer produce, not consume.

    Otherwise there should be a steep hipster stupidity tax on this POS. It’s time to grow up.

    1. This thing could totally help you with shoplifting with a team of other people.  That’ll show ’em.

      1. If it had been me, I would have gone after people for using a big corporate system without knowing how it works, and ended it with WAKE UP SHEEPLE.  That lets people know you’re serious, and they’ll take you seriously as a result.

        1. Yes, I can damn well see you in my peripheral vision.
          There’s no bloody need to strut down the centre of the pavement (center of the sidewalk) flailing your arms around as widely as possible in the hope of nudging me, in order to enhance your ‘WELL I’M LOOKING WHERE I’M GOING’ indignation.
          The next time I have to balance on the kerb because some self important dinosaur needs to feed their confirmation bias, shit’s gonna get real.

          1. Says you.  It would take all of a tenth of a second to make eye contact and reassure the person that you really are paying attention.

          2.  re: taintofevil. You might think that but the rules get reset as soon as I look back down at my phone.

    1. Or buying Tylenol.  Just watching the focus-racking on a 2D screen was giving me a screaming headache.  I doubt my eyes would easily adapt to this, though I guess my kids will have independently-moving lizard eyes by the time they’re my age now.

      Hand me my unfashionable hat and walking stick; I already have a map and two bits for the pay-telephone.  I shan’t be needing this twenty-first century techno-frippery.

    2. It’ll warn you of incoming lamp poles, cars, etc. with a plug-in and extra camera (not included).  Then someone will hack the plug-in and it will help you hit them.

  8. Tying it in with google+ is a really bad idea, because once someone gets a million friends in their circles, google will release a virus that turns everyone into zombies.

    I saw it in a documentary once.

      1. I thought it was going to be the one where Riker is off in some alien brothel and gets hooked on that game.

  9. The one thing I imagine it will be really useful for is making you look like a bumbling dork.  

  10. I had Google Glasses before they became popular. I doubt you’ve heard of them. They really enhance my ukulele playing. The headphones are really great too. They make obscure french-sounding bands sound great.

  11. I look forward to generation of kids who can’t walk on dirt, and who can be hacked into walking around in circles, like ants following a pheromone trail. 

    Also, to Google’s genetically uplifted Border collies, which make sure stray kids stay in Advertising Rich areas.

  12. I want to see how it works in a real world setting.

    I want ot see how it works for those with glasses.

    I want to see how it works for people who’s eyes move different.

    Anything else I have to say would be pointless griping at people whining or picking about this or that detail. This is just an advertising clip. Advertisements tend to have stupid stuff in them. Much like how you get stock photo cliche. You have Advertising cliche.

    1. Frankly, I can’t see how it works at all, given the spectacle-frame device shown. Somehow this is supposed to superimpose a collimated high-res image of data on your field of view? What’s the virtual distance? A metre? Two? Three? Infinity? 

      And how do the images projected on the visual field obscure the real world objects behind them? Light does not actually possess the property of opacity – there would really have to be something physical in front of your eye, or eyes, to make that work. Which would also mean there would have to be a lens system to bring the image into focus …

      It’s all bullshit – you might be able to work out something like LaFarge’s visor that could do it, but not this. 

      And as for what Google might do to derive an advertising revenue stream from this, that’s another level of bullshit altogether …

      1. Okay, are you Stephen Fry’s or Phill Jupitus’ secret BoingBoing account?

        (baaaaaah, baaaaaaah, maaaaaah)

  13. Google +?  Lol, nice try.  Just go ahead and replace that with Facebook.  Also, everyone knows all the “cool” kids will have their own “I-Wear” (I just posted it, Apple now owns it).

    1.  I was waiting for someone like you to pipe up. a), look up some of the early prototypes of wearable computing–they make the Borg look sexy (and I’m not talking about Seven of Nine). b), it’s already almost small enough to conceal in the horn-rim frames that half the bloggers on this site already wear.

  14. More seriously with the advent of devices like this hacking out useful ambient interfaces will be the new challenge.  I’m all for having this information right in view when I want it.  The key is keeping it in the periphery when I don’t.

  15. LOL! I thought the first popup was “See Jesus tonight”!

    (Edit: Cultural fail. Le sigh.)

  16. I’d be staring at mirrors all day and tilting my head to make the video feedback produce cool fractals.  Then an ad would pop up showing me the nearest dealer for shrooms.

  17. I usually like Google’s offerings but this just vomits hipster.

    Some questions: Why would you want an overlay of the weather while you’re looking at the weather? Why would it wait until you get to the subway to tell you it’s suspended? How does it know what he wants a reminder for when his French pronunciation sounded so awful? Is Google planning on cataloging the store layouts of every store? When I played his casual “um, meet me at….” response into my Android voice keyboard (through my headphones) it thought I said “I’m in front of me” which, while delectably post-modern, is wrong. What happens when people refuse to share their location because of (likely justified) privacy concerns? What happens when it rains?

    1. Why would it wait until you get to the subway to tell you it’s suspended?

      Because you forgot to tell it where you were going.

      Is Google planning on cataloging the store layouts of every store?

      No, but I’m sure just like how Google Local/Maps works, businesses can opt-in and submit their own maps/data via their web developer or otherwise.

      What happens when people refuse to share their location because of (likely justified) privacy concerns?

      Then it won’t work very well because just about every feature I can see is location-based.  I guess the question is will Google keep that data and can Google be trusted with that data.  If we look to Google’s track record, the answer is probably “no”.

      What happens when it rains?

      It’s waterproof?

      1. Indeed. Quite unnecessarily painful aesthetic choices were made in the creation of that video. I was hoping he was going to get wiped out by a car while he was busy ‘sharing with his circle’.

        1. “So I got this cool book on how to play the ukelele and I…”  *WARNING* *WARNING* *ONCOMING VEHICLE* “WHERE?? YEAARRRGH!”   (Cute little animated frowning car icon pops up with an arrow pointing to left, displayed on a pair of AR glasses laying on the asphalt with cracks running across the lenses…) 

      2. Does “hipster” mean anything anymore, or is it just the seven letters we currently use for “shit that I don’t like/don’t identify with?” Because I don’t see what makes this any more or less hipster than anything else in or outside our society. I don’t particularly care for the glasses, but I don’t think of them as hipster, or meeting my friend for coffee as hipster, or going to a bookstore. The uke I’ll give you, but the rest… Then again, I’m not sure what I define as hipster anymore. So I guess who am I to judge…

        1. Does “hipster” mean anything anymore, or is it just the seven letters we currently use for “shit that I don’t like/don’t identify with?”

          It’s what people who were bullied for being nerds call people whom they think are lower down the social ladder. Only…the hipsters seem to be enjoying themselves and don’t care.

          1. All that’s true.  But it’s also true that while the urban-dwelling guy who navigates his way to the independent bookstore to buy a ukulele book, then meets his buddy for coffee at a curbside truck, snaps a quick picture of some neato street art, then serenades his sweetie while sharing his rooftop view of a sunset, all through his eyewear, may be considered a hipster, it’s a pretty sure bet that the guy who spends the same day watching the Brickyard 400 on his DVR, taking pictures on his iPhone of his preschooler kids rolling down a grassy hill, putting together a non-ironic hair-metal playlist for his wife’s 40th birthday, and using his GPS to find where in Wilmington the old Memory Lane junkyard might have moved to… that guy is probably not what you’d call a hipster.

          2. That’s true but is only one of the definitions. The arguably good aspects of that type of person were co-opted by the ‘hip’ young urban-dwelling folks that @boingboing-096f32c997988c54d6d7c09ff0be4d32:disqus describes. People who didn’t used to be ‘cool’ but who also weren’t necessarily nerds and geeks, who now enjoy things for their own sake (even if they are decidedly ‘quirky’ things like playing the ukulele).

            Basically it’s people who are outside the mainstream and who enjoy themselves and don’t care (as you say). Many geeks fall into this category as well, but the sorts of things hipsters and geeks are into is different.

            And anyone who’s a regular reader of Boing Boing very likely falls into either the hipster or geek category (going by these nebulous definitions anyway) – even yoga instructors in Palm Springs. Which is to say that hipsters as defined here have always existed, it’s only just now that we’re becoming relatively mainstream. 

            Of course, if we go by my definition it does mean that people with beards, v-necks, and fake glasses who ride fixies in Portland and Brooklyn need a new label. But the mainstream idea of what a hipster is has become so broad that we’re well past the point where there are different categories of hipster.

        2. I believe “vomits hipster” here refers to the kind of studied innocuous, babyfied “quirkiness”  in terms of taste in music and clothing that seems de rigueur for Apple advertising and other things that fans of Zooey Deschanel use as left-handed material.

          Glockenspiel, marimba, ukulele: the instrumental hat trick of tweeness in music.

    2. The big takeaway for me is that the hardware is exciting, but (it being so new) the people at Google have no idea what to do with it. They know it’s cool but can’t see precisely how yet, just the same as when the iPhone came out and all that existed were the relatively shite Apple application.

      The street has not yet found a use for it, as it were.

  18. AT LONG LAST, I will be able to wear these on sunglasses, go around at night and when people ask me why I’m wearing sunglasses at night, I can go “my vision is augmented.”

  19. I was gonna post that this looks creepy and society-eroding as all hell but looks like 69 other people beat me to it. Good job, Hivemind!

    I am so ready to move to a pit on a mountainside and eat juniper berries. I want none of this. YOU KIDS GET OFF MY LAWN

  20. Has anyone else seen the irony in this?  This version at least doesn’t seem very compatible with vision correcting glasses.  The geeks with glasses won’t be able to beta test it without resorting to contact lenses.

    1. I imagine any Googlers involved in the in-house testing that wear corrective lenses have been given units that fit on their glasses (or just have a set of matching prescription lenses built in). I also read from a different source that Google is cooking up a variety of forms, including ones that will fit on/over existing glasses. I’m afraid I don’t have it handy right now, however, so I can’t cite it.
      I’m willing to bet that they haven’t come up with a works-with-correctives prototype that looks good enough to show off yet, so they left it out of the announcement.

      1. Oh really! Are you actually suggesting they’ve actually built anything that works like this, rather than a completely non-functional “conceptual design”?

        1. Or perhaps they’ve yet to come up with a non-ugly prototype design that fits over corrective lenses. In either case, I imagine Google has taken this into account, but for some reason they did not demonstrate this in their launch video.

          1. “For some reason…” 

            Yep, I’m sure we’ll be able to pick up our pairs of these from the same shop that’ll sell us our Microsoft Couriers™. 

            Any day now.

    1. I wonder if simply taking off the glasses (or shutting off the implant’s interface, if it comes to that) for two weeks will constitute one’s annual vacation in 2016.

  21. Right around 1:42 where he looks left at the painted door, I was so ready to hear him say, “Who?” Then Alberto would sidle up with his laptop (mindful of the cord) and say, “River Phoenix.”

  22. McGuyver App 1st Generation: Takes info from barcodes and rfids about items in its range. Compiles a list of things you can do with the stuff around you, presents it to you in HUD, complete with really intuitive filter generation. Links to instructables and the like so all the info of it is crowdsourced.

    Navigation App: Enter a destination. Reskins the sky in shades of red, purple and blue. Red-hot just over your destination. Doesn’t clutter your daily life.


    1. I’d want a plugin that replicates the old sky beacon from Second Life for navigation destinations. I don’t know if it’s still in use, but for anyone who doesn’t know what I’m talking about, if you selected a point on the map as a navigation point to travel to, and then you chose to travel there manually instead of teleporting (or the teleport wasn’t direct-to-point but a telehub instead), during a certain era of SL, a vertical red beacon would be visible in the 3D world view, and pulses of light would shoot up it and burst outwards across the sky in the top.

  23. eh, interesting, but a bit much. As for the vid, what would have been a very interesting twist would have been if  at 2:00 the girlfriend informed him that she would be breaking up with him because of her new cyborg boyfriend. this could be followed  by the guy hurling himself off of the roof, and at the moment of impact, his glasses changing his facebook status to “Dead”

  24. Wow, let the hate flow, haters.

    Dear Googly,
    Ignore the rabble. This is cool, and I would like to pre-order.

    1. i agree. nothing wrong with getting technology to work for you, but this video contains the most insipid examples imaginable.

  25. Once we have Google’s ads plastered all over virtual reality, can we tear down all the billboards and printed ads in the real world?

  26. Slightly off topic, but I’m pretty impressed that google is running a tech ad with photos of five people, none of which are caucasian males! I’m not sure if I’ve seen such a thing before, but it’s a really positive step.

    1. I gotta hand it to Google.  When they make a mistake, it’s generally not a decades-old one.  They have been known to learn from other people’s failures.

  27. How exactly does the wearer select between two options like “walking route” and “other public transportation”? Do the glasses track your eyes? Do you have to give excessive voice commands? I can see how the more passive features would work, but there’s not much to go on here as far as a user interface is concerned.

  28. fuck

    this is the first I’ve even heard of the phrase “augmented reality”

    I am so out of the loop already

    (No seriously, that Vimeo clip is two YEARS old!)

  29. I agree.  I’m surprised this doesn’t exist already.  If I’m presented with an array of products (i.e., Amazon), I first thought I should be able to sort those products by more than just price or popularity.  ‘Vegan friendly’ sounds too subjective.  But third party curators like BoingBoing and the Dow certainly work, eh?  I imagine we’ll run into the same problem/bonus in augmented reality – the group providing you with the list – be it a restaurant giving you a menu, or a retailer giving you prices, doesn’t control, or even actively want you to know information relating to its own aggregate-objective worth/status/popularity.  But the Great Aggregator, who knows the color of the awning of the building I am typing this from, might fit the bill.  At least in this snake oil narrative.  I’m sold.  

    As an aside I really dislike the new comment vehicle.  Difficult to post anon, 3 min just to confirm your comment went through, and I “might need to disable my popup blocker.”  Disqus, et al “might need to realize people like that feature.”  Seriously.  I ctrl-c before posting anything now, almost certain it will be lost to history/synergy/god knows what.  Downright prodigal.  (as in, ‘like Prodigy’). 

    OMG it just happened!  Five minutes writing drivel.  But they’re MY five minutes.  Ctrl-v!!!!! You can’t just waste my work/thoughts because choose not to be  logged into some API aggregator 24/7.  Seriously. Betamax tech on these comment threads.  

  30. It’s like none of these guys have ever read William Gibson.   Why is the map obscuring the user’s vision?  Why isn’t the walking route laid out on the street overlaying the actual street?  It’s not augmented reality, it’s a head mounted Android phone.  With everything they’ve got in Google maps, they could add so much more information to the real world.

    1. Baby steps. First, wearable computing, then augmented reality/eyeglass HUDs. The consumer public isn’t ready for change too quickly (look at how long it took for smartphones to become mainstream–before the iPhone, if you owned a Palm, a BlackBerry, a Windows Mobile, or some other thing with a full QWERTY keyboard on it, you were likely either a geek or it was a work-supplied phone).

  31. I’d wear one of these, but I wouldn’t waste money being an early adopter (because they’re not gonna be $25 for a while). But if I had to choose between the two prototype models available, I’d get the black one. For some reason, the white one looks like you have an iPhone 4S wedged in the front of your head.

    And, yes, I did see that they’re planning a variety of shapes and styles, so there would presumably be a better selection for an actual product being placed on the market.

  32. Seems like nonsense. Especially since it clearly states , “So we took a few design photos to show what this technology could look like and created a video to demonstrate what it might enable you to do.” COULD & MIGHT are the key words.

    I have no doubt technology like this can exist. But I honestly think that they will be about as popular as Bluetooth headsets: People buy them, look like a futuristic secret agent for a few days, then get sick of it. Because—when you come down to it—people really don’t like things hanging around their heads all the time.  Yeah, eyeglasses are an exception. And so are hearing aids, but it’s not the same.

    I think people far prefer using devices they can touch than the augmented reality this thing provides.

  33. This would all be interesting if it were personally encryptable, decentrally stored, anonymized, open-source and user-hackable.

    From Google? “What rough beast…”

  34. Nothing says Forever Alone like augmented reality gear.

    It’s a neat idea, but I think I’ll stick with a separate screen, thanks.

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