Head-Mounted Android: Google Reportedly Preps Connected Glasses

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Behold the future! Take a pile of smartphone parts and stuff them into a pair of somewhat bulky glasses. That’s the idea behind a project Google is reportedly working on right now.

According to 9to5Google.com, these high-tech glasses have been in the works for a while now but the blog’s unnamed source has apparently witnessed a real-world set of prototype glasses that appear similar to the Oakley Thump glasses your favorite bounty hunter is wearing in the above photo.

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While the Oakley Thumps merely pump music through the attached earbuds, these Google glasses appear to basically act as a head-mounted smartphone with a tiny screen mounted to the side of them and an interface controlled by voice commands.

Says 9to5Google:

The navigation system currently used is a head tilting-to scroll and click. We are told it is very quick to learn and once the user is adept at navigation, it becomes second nature and almost indistinguishable to outside users.

I/O on the glasses will also include voice input and output, and we are told the CPU/RAM/storage hardware is near the equivalent of a generation-old Android smartphone. As a guess, we would speculate something like 1GHz ARM A8, 256MB RAM and 8GB of storage? In any case, it will also function as a smartphone.

The glasses reportedly have a front-facing camera for capturing photos and video, but that can also be used with augmented reality apps. The Google Goggles app that’s already available for current smartphones lets you take photos of text, landmarks, books, contact info, artwork and more, then relays the pertinent information to you – this app seems like a very natural extension for a pair of glasses that house an internet connection and a camera.

But who would buy such a system? That’s apparently an issue, as 9t05Google reports, “Google is apparently unsure if it will have mass-market appeal.” Several companies already use head-mounted computer systems for specialized tasks: One we wrote about way back in 2010 is used “specifically for onsite technicians to reference product manuals” electronically and features a camera that can be used “to send real-time imagery back to headquarters” if the technician using the system needs help solving a particular problem.

Those are companies, though. Mass-market appeal is a different story. In that spirit, Google is apparently “considering making this a pilot program” at first, says 9to5Google. I think we’ll see consumer-focused systems like this become rather commonplace in the future, but this kind of technology will likely only appeal to industries and early adopters for at least a few more years.

If you don’t like the idea of wearing smartphone glasses, then perhaps you’d be better off waiting for the contact lens versions that are soon to follow.

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