Google X labs confirms augmented reality glasses project, releases video demo


April 4, 2012

Google's Project Glass hopes to deliver an augmented reality heads-up display

Google's Project Glass hopes to deliver an augmented reality heads-up display

Google X (Google's futuristic technology development lab) has pulled back the curtain on Project Glass, its program to develop truly useful augmented reality "Google glasses." Project Glass aims to design and refine augmented reality technology to help a user explore and share their world armed with a wealth of relevant information - not at their fingertips, but rather at the end of their nose.

Augmented reality describes a view of the real world that includes superimposed graphics. Instead of interrupting your activities to use a smartphone to search for information - get directions, remain in touch, find out if an item is on sale, translate a tourist's note evaluating a restaurant, and the like - Google's Project Glass intends to provide glasses with real-time heads-up displays and intelligent personal assistant software to enable a seamless user experience.

"We think technology should work for you - to be there when you need it and get out of your way when you don't. A group of us from Google[x] started Project Glass to build this kind of technology, one that helps you explore and share your world, putting you back in the moment," says a post signed by the three Google X team leaders, Babak Parviz, Steve Lee, and Sebastian Thrun. Parviz has experience working on contact lenses embedded with electronics, including one designed to monitor blood sugar levels - although AR contact lenses are probably still a little ways off yet.

In February 2012, the New York Times reported "the glasses [could] go on sale to the public by the end of the year." This seems a little ambitious, with the team needing to overcome a number of technical problems, from cost and adequate battery life to speed, network, software, and graphics performance. However, the video below gives an idea of the direction Google hopes to take the technology in.

Source: Google X

About the Author
Brian Dodson From an early age Brian wanted to become a scientist. He did, earning a Ph.D. in physics and embarking on an R&D career which has recently broken the 40th anniversary. What he didn't expect was that along the way he would become a patent agent, a rocket scientist, a gourmet cook, a biotech entrepreneur, an opera tenor and a science writer. All articles by Brian Dodson

I watched the video and I think it's brilliant....

We are sort of living in an information overload, constantly interfaced, constantly monitored and monitoring electronic society - and this is really great... There are just so many advantages to it....

Sometimes I think it's just so nice to have a 2B pencil and a piece of paper - and to be blissfully bloody ignorant.

Mr Stiffy

Google Goggles surely?


Reminds me of an episode of black mirror by Charlie Brooker.

Alan Ross

Nice technology. If it works like that, I'm in. However I know the ad companies will find ways to deluge us with crap we don't wanna see. Like some clown marrying bacon. Now if they could just find a way to put a dot over the sun while I'm driving towards it.


Hate to admit it, but I like it, especially the mapping feature. I am Locutus of Google - you will be assimilated.




The mind meld device in UI has been around as long as the promise of flying cars, jet packs and George Lucas moving on from Star Wars.

Tom Renk

@VoiceofReason I think the "Putting a dot over the Sun" is being done in high urgency situations like the military. Some day it may become common place. It sure looks like a great place to put an add. I can see it already in my imagination. Look up and there is the round Coca-Cola symbol right where the sun would be. The next day, a Mercedes emblem, then an NBA basketball. Your not supposed to look at the sun anyway so there is no damage as long as they don't replace the sun with the face Mick Jagger. I don't think my nervous system could handle that. :-)

Rustin Haase

Yes, track my every move, word and thought please. Oh, and while you're at it, spam me silly with ads about everything I do. That would be great.

Thomas Roberts


John Grimes

Meh. Maybe I'm too old. I wouldn't give a farthing for it. Cool(ish) tech but who needs it?

Clay Jones

The visual input would be great in certain situations and "a clear and present danger" in others. If you think "Distracted Driving" is a big issue now it will be on fire when this remarkable device shows up. I want a pair for when I'm not doing something like cooking, driving, walking, using power tools, performing surgery, etc. Keeping most output/input with voice and visuals only when requested would make for a much safer devise.


We need electronics that will help us break the logjam of ideology. Part of that is just starting to see the world as it is, without some "-ism" blinding us. This kind of interface could potentially help that.


Too bad others thought of this idea first Google.

Perhaps you (Google) can execute well like Apple has done by being a late adopter but great innovator.


Wait till it is used by big brother to control our thinking.


CREEPY! Hello!? Nobody thinks this is creepy?? TO FAR. But for all the urban dwellers have at it! lol

Chris Cranmer

The integrated-life concept is a little over the top, and I'm already a bit put off from smartphones for the same reason. That said, for a while now I have been facing a vexing problem: how to have a computer that I can generally be productive with, that is also small enough to fit into my pocket. This tech could solve the display portion of that problem.

Carlos Ricci

Could be a really cool thing for museums and historic site visits but doubt i'd use it daily. I can see people walking out in traffic while focusing on this thing. I felt spacy just watching the video. It would definately have its uses but it is possible to be too connected. For a few years at least the thing wouldn't know what to do where I live unless it would identify trees and plants.


I don't think there's any good technical reason why a wearable computer absolutely has to be networked through a telephone company 24/7. You can imagine devices that directly use GPS and randomly encountered wifi hotspots without reporting every damned thing to a central database. Yes Google et al could still track which wifi base station you last used but if you had a PC-like level of control over your software then you, or the company that made your device, could engineer in a lot of privacy. There might eventually be at least a niche market for such privacy although at the moment the unwashed masses seem content to be tracked.


A food scanning device will obviously be the next big step forward in this product among others, as technology makes our lives easier


This technology is very promising for both the smartphone and the computer industry... even though the "big brother" issue is there and also the possible (or maybe not not?) of ads running rampant over the display whenever we are seeing something. Aslo - this reminds me of an anime I saw a couple of years ago: Denno Coil.

Per Andersson

google.....always thinking

Misha Ioffe

Yes unfortunately thinking seems to be about as far as they have got. I am very interested in these sorts of projects and would definitely wear one (subject to the obvious privacy concerns). In their blog they use phrases like "to show what this technology could look like" and "created a video to demonstrate what it might enable you to do.", and are asking for input from us. The bolds are my own emphasis of what I consider pertinent words. Google never asks for input after they have got any great distance with a product already. They usually just spring them upon us, so you can be sure this project is unfortunately a long long way from the production stage

With today's technology this will actually be a maddening experience. "I'm sorry, I didn't understand what you said. Please say the name of the thing that are you looking for...." Did you mean "Maynard Street"? No! Main Street! "Mans tree?" No! Main street! "Remind me to buy Monsieur Gayno tickets". Did you mean "Mall Sewer Gay Now?" Ahhhhhhhhhggggg!

Ken Dawson

They still have not solved the now 50 year old HMD problem of convergence accommodation disparity which forces you to refocus your eye lenses AND also converge your two eye balls on a focal plane. Its the switching back and forth between the real world near infinity and the text screen wherever they set it in the Head Mounted Display that is nauseating.

The disparity can cause from head to stomach aches, so I'd like to learn from users over several days to weeks on their experiences.

Tristram Metcalfe
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