Google Project Glass: Contact Lenses a ‘Long-Term Thing’

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Google’s “Project Glass” augmented reality glasses seem pretty cool, but man, do they look dorky. Fortunately, Google seems interested in putting the technology into contact lenses in the distant future.

“I mean, that’s definitely a long-term thing,” Project Glass product lead Steve Lee said in an interview with Fast Company. “At this point, it seems like a natural evolution.”

Of course, Lee also defended the glasses in their current state. He said to think of it like jewelry — something people are proud of wearing. “In that case, you wouldn’t want it to be invisible — you want to show it off, like, ‘Hey! I’m part of the future.’”

Google announced Project Glass in early April, with a concept video that shows the user making video calls, scheduling appointments, getting directions and snapping photos. Not all the features in the video will show up in the finished product, but Lee said that mapping and photography are already part of the prototype.

Google’s been talking up Project Glass a lot lately, even though there’s no release date in sight. At the Google+ Photographer’s Conference last week, Google showed off some photos taken from the glasses, along with a slightly-barfy video of the user flipping over on a trampoline. A few days later, Google co-founder Sergey Brin let California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom try the glasses on, and revealed that the prototype uses a touch pad for navigation. (During the appearance, Brin said he hopes the glasses will launch “some time in the next year.”)

Fast Company is splitting its interview with Steve Lee into two parts, and will run the second half later this week.

Given that the first version of Project Glass could be a year away, don’t get your hopes up for contact lens computing any time soon. But seeing as Microsoft is already researching the concept for medical applications, Lee’s claim that smartphone-like contacts are the next natural step in the process doesn’t seem so far-fetched.

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