If flying cars and uncannily dexterous robots haven't tipped you off already, know this: the future is here. We're living in an age when Star Trek tech is getting realized little by little, and Google's just revealed a secret undertaking that checks one more sci-fi innovation off the proverbial list.
Meet Project Glass: an augmented reality undertaking that's emerged out of the company's black ops innovation lab, known as Google X. With Project Glass, Google is taking a serious look at augmented reality. What would life be like if rather than reaching into our pocket for a phone, the data we need was fluidly woven right into our lives?
Google casts a wide net when it comes to researching projects that are a bit closer to the cutting edge than email and search. Its best known future-tech project is a small fleet of self-driving cars which have already hit the streets for testing in California, but it's reportedly also quietly working on a space elevator and as many as 100 other covert futuristic projects.
Not to be confused with Google Goggles — an app that lets you search for anything just by snapping a photo — Google's glasses superimpose what's known as a head's up display (HUD) over your visual field. The visual display, as you can see in Google's concept video, provides contextual information and lets you do just about anything a smartphone would, from texting and geosocial check-ins to turn-by-turn directions — all without lifting a finger. Of course, Google's conception of this ties right into its umbrella of products, from Maps and Latitude to Google+. According to the minds behind Project Glass, technology should "be there when you need it and get out of your way when you don't".
While the lofty technology is far from market-ready at the moment — a launch by the end of 2012 looks very unlikely — the glasses are very much real. There are reportedly many models, ranging from a Star Trek-inspired visor to a design that "sits over a person's normal eyeglasses." And Google employees will actually be testing them in the wild, so don't be alarmed if you bump into a seeming cyborg near the company's Mountain View headquarters.
The idea of a system like Google's Project Glass is to steep reality in immersive, non-disruptive data. All tasks would be integrated right into your visual field, keeping your hands free while still providing the informational amenities we've come to expect from smartphones and tablets. In the world of Project Glass, our devices' screens would melt away altogether in favor of translucent data draped right over the world as we know it. Who needs a Retina display when you've got everything you need, right before your eyes?
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