Wireless Gets in Your Eyes: Google’s Project Glass and Beyond

Fresh on the heels of the Tablet Wars, the technology giants are setting their innovative sights elsewhere—on your eyes. For some, that’s a little too close for comfort, but many are embracing the advent of “augmented reality” hardware. Google sparked the race in earnest with the announcement of “Project Glass,” which promises everyone the opportunity to feel like a Terminator.

Project Glass Makes Progress

Project Glass resembles the empty frame of a pair of glasses—instead of lenses, there is a Heads Up Display, activated by looking up and to the right. While active, Project Glass overlays your vision with real-time information about the people, places, and things around you (including the location of Sarah Connor, no doubt). You can even take a picture or video, just by moving your eyeballs. Google aims to include all the functionality of a smartphone.

Project Glass is already undergoing demonstrations, from developer-geared events like the Google I/O conference to New York Fashion Week, and Time named it one of the Best Inventions of 2012. Preorders from the I/O conference will be shipping in early 2013, and the product should be commercially available by the end of 2013, placing Project Glass lightyears ahead of any competition.

Apple and Microsoft Play Catch-Up

Competition is on its way, however: both Apple and Microsoft were quick to file patents for their own versions of “augmented reality” hardware. Apple’s headgear is of uncertain form—it could be a helmet, a visor, or steampunk goggles—but it will focus on creating an immersive experience that promises to be useful for training simulations and the like. They’d be crazy not to call it “iGlasses” or “the iPatch.”

Microsoft’s patent resembles a pair of sunglasses. The description pinpoints its usefulness at live events, like concerts or sports, during which it could supply useful information overlays: what song the band is playing, what the score is, who’s on first. If they proceed with the idea, Microsoft might make the Jumbotron obsolete—sports fans should hurry up and publicly propose while they still can.

Contact Lens Computers are Coming

If the concept of headgear-based Terminator-vision doesn’t give you a chill, then how about this: contact lens devices. As sci-fi as that sounds, it’s already being developed, and not just for fun. A device-laden lens would open up many doors in medical research—it would affect the way we monitor our bodies, not just our surroundings. Researchers in Belgium recently succeeded in building a lens with an LCD screen—which they’ve used to flash dollar signs, like a cartoon character’s eyes might. Practical applications could include morphing into “sunglasses,” protecting sensitive eyes, or creatively proposing with only your eyes, once the Jumbotron is gone.

photo credit: andysternberg via photopin cc


Brent Urmey is an avid reader and writer on a variety of subjects, including social media, SEO, the Wireless industry, and life in Lancaster County, PA. He is a graduate of Drexel University and a survivor of the 2012 Mayan Apocalypse. You can connect with Brent on Google +.