In a story that could easily turn out to be wild speculation, it is being reported that Google intends to market a wearable, glasses-like computing device this year, potentially realizing a human-computer interface henceforth confined primarily to science fiction.
The rumored HUD is being developed at Google’s semi-secret development laboratory known as Google X, according to reports. That facility has been linked to projects in advanced robotics, as well as ones as far-fetched as space elevators.
The glasses are slated to go on sale by the end of 2012, according to the New York Times‘ Nick Bilton, writing for the blog Bits. The glasses are also rumored to run hardware equivalent to last-generation Android phones, and cloud connectivity is speculated to be a key feature.
“The people familiar with the Google glasses said they would be Android-based, and will include a small screen that will sit a few inches from someone’s eye,” Bilton wrote. “They will also have a 3G or 4G data connection and a number of sensors including motion and GPS.”
9 To 5 Google’s Seth Weintraub believes the device will be branded by Google and that Google co-founder Sergey Brin is “closely associated” with the project.
“One really cool bit: The navigation system currently used is a head tilting-to scroll and click,” Weintraub wrote, based on information he claims came from a tipster with access to the device. “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.”
The primary method of data presentation on the glasses, which according to Weintraub could look like the chunky Oakley Thumps, may not be traditional web pages. An intriguing possibility is that spatial and location data could be used to display information as an overlay on physical structures, as in some conceptions of virtual reality technology, or as intimated by the Google Goggles app.
That’s not a new idea, but until widespread internet coverage became a reality, it was limited to the purviews of science fiction and comparatively primitive, tethered apparatuses.
But in spite of high-profile coverage–and the undeniable glamor and immediacy of the concept–current reports should be kept in the context of the anonymous tipsters on which they are sourced. And anything in development at Google X, which is barely acknowledged by the larger company, could turn out to be vaporware.