Google will again test augmented reality glasses in public

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Google AR glasses prototype

Google

Google will test prototypes of augmented reality in public places, the company announced in a blog post on Tuesday.

Some prototypes will look like normal glasses and will be equipped with microphones and cameras as well as transparent screens.

The new glasses are not yet a product and are not available to the public, but Google wants to test applications such as real-time translation or displaying user directions inside the glasses lenses, in especially in environments such as busy intersections.

The tests represent a significant step forward in Google’s development of augmented reality, a technology that many Silicon Valley residents believe could be a game changer in computing like the smartphone and PC before it. Augmented reality superimposes computer-generated images on the real world, unlike virtual reality, which completely immerses the viewer in an artificial world or “metaverse”.

By announcing its intention to test in public, Google is also trying to get ahead of the kind of privacy concerns that helped sink Google Glass, one of the first augmented reality devices, nearly a decade ago.

Google Glass had a front-facing camera, and critics feared users were recording people without their permission. Glasses wearers have been given a derogatory nickname, and in 2014 a woman wearing glasses said she was attacked in a San Francisco bar. Eventually, Google repurposed eyewear to focus on business customers rather than consumers.

“It’s early days, and we want to get it right, so we’re taking it slow, with an emphasis on protecting the privacy of testers and those around them,” wrote Google Product Manager Juston Payne. , in the blog post about the new product.

“These research prototypes look like normal glasses, have an in-lens display, and audio and visual sensors, such as a microphone and camera,” Google said in a testing support page. .

The device has an LED light that lights up when the glasses are recording image data. Google says the glasses won’t record video or take photos that users can store and view later, but they can capture and use image data to perform functions like identifying objects or route display. Testers will not wear the glasses in schools, government buildings, healthcare facilities, churches, protests or other sensitive areas, Google said. The tests will be conducted by “a few dozen Googlers and selected trusted testers” and will take place somewhere in the United States.

Google unveiled its AR glasses at its developer conference in May with a focus on real-time speech translation, so a person sees a foreign language translated right before their eyes. A Google employee called the glasses “subtitles for the world” during the presentation.

Google is in fierce competition with other tech giants, including Apple, Meta and Microsoft, to create the first next-generation augmented reality glasses. The four companies have invested billions in augmented reality software and hardware, hoping for a breakthrough that could enable a new computing platform, but current products have yet to catch on.

“The magic will really come to life when you can use them in the real world without technology getting in your way,” Pichai said.

Apple is reportedly preparing to announce a mixed reality headset as early as next year. Meta has announced an advanced mixed reality headset that supports augmented reality features coming later this year. Microsoft’s Hololens is the most advanced augmented reality hardware on the market from a major tech company yet.

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