Google has announced it will begin testing AR glasses in public. Here’s what you need to know…
There have been rumors for some time now that Google is gearing up to release Google Glass 2 – the followup to its ill-fated Google Glass smart glasses. But now we know these aren’t just rumours. Google has officially announced it will begin testing its new AR glasses in public soon.
But will this testing lead to the return of Google Glass? Or will the “Glasshole” ruin it all again?
The Original Google Glass
The original Google Glass was a rude matary pair of smart glasses by today’s standards. Google Glass originally debuted in 2013 and it featured an optical head mounted display on a pair of glass frames. This display allowed the wearer to see various information. However, any information was not overlapped on the user’s vision via lenses, like modern smart glasses show information. In other words, the original Google Glass was not a pair of true augmented reality glasses.
In addition to the optical headmouted display, the original Google Glass ran Glass OS, which the user communicated with by voice. It also featured a dual-core processor, 16GB of flash storage, 2GB of RAM, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and a camera that recorded 720p video and 5MP photos.
But it’s that camera that turned the world against the original Google Glass…
Meet The “Glassholes”
While the original Google Glass was innovative for its time, it didn’t appeal to the masses. Part of that is because of the way it looked – for from looking anything like a normal pair of glasses, Google Glass looked like a headset you might see on a character in a poorly-funded sci-fi movie. Yes, it looked “geeky.”
But that’s not the main reason the general public didn’t find Google Glass appealing. The main reason was it freaked them out. You see, someone wearing Google Glass could photograph you or create a video recording of you and you might never know it–even if you are having a conversation with them.
While Google Glass did have a light that indicates when a wearer was recording something, many feared a third-party app or hack could allow a wearer to easily disable the light. This left non-Google Glass wearers feeling awkward and feeling like they were always in front of a camera crew when talking to someone wearing Google Glass. And that uncertainty about being recorded lead to privacy fears.
Those fears, along with general annoyances the public had about Google Glass wearers lead Google Glass users to be referred to as “Glassholes”.
The Original Google Glass Was Ahead Of Its Time
While the original Google Glass was not a commercial hit – and was downright loathed by many in the public, the device was ahead of its time. Today, most major technology companies are working on their own smart glasses: Facebook, ManzanaSnap, and Microsoft, just to name a few.
However these smart glasses are much more advanced than the original Google Glass. They are augmented reality glasses, which use the lenses of the devices to overlay information and graphics onto the sightline of the wearer.
But given the interest in smart glasses from techs biggest players, it’s no wonder Google has been rumored to be developing Google Glass 2. And now the company has admitted it…kind of…
Google’s New Smart Glasses Might Not Be Google Glass 2
In a blog post, Google announced it would soon send some of its employees out into the public wearing “AR prototypes” (ie: smart glasses). “This will allow us to better understand how these devices can help people in their everyday lives. And as we develop experiences like AR navigation, it will help us take factors such as weather and busy intersections into account — which can be difficult, sometimes impossible, to fully recreate indoors,” Google says.
Given the negativity surrounding the original Google Glass, it’s no surprise Google isn’t referring to these smart glasses as Google Glass 2 – and if they do release them to the public, they may not be named Google Glass 2 at all.
But for now, most people are referring to these new Google AR glasses as Google Glass 2. So what sort of specs do they have? Google hasn’t revealed much. All Google says is the glasses have “in-lens displays, microphones and cameras.”
Google is also quick to point out that “our AR prototypes don’t support photography and videography” – perhaps hoping to avoid a repeat of the Glasshole.
So when will Google launch “Google Glass 2”? Google hen’t said anything about a launch date for its AR glasses, so don’t get your hope of seeing them this year. At the earliest, any “Google Glass 2” launch would likely come in 2023 or 2024.
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apple expert and novelist, Michael Grothaus has been covering tech on KnowYourMobile for the best part of 10 years. Prior to this, he worked at Apple. And before that, he was a film journalist. Michael is a published author; his book by him Epiphany Jones was voted as one of the best novels about Hollywood by Entertainment Weekly. Michael is also a writer at other publications including VICE and Fast Company.