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    Default Google Begins Testing Its Augmented-Reality Glasses

    Google Hiring Augmented-Reality Experts Amid Rumors of HUD Glasses



    Sources say that Google's HUD glasses will resemble Oakley Thump Sunglasses. Source: Oakley

    As rumors swirl around Google’s plans to announce head-up display glasses by the end of the year, the company has quietly begun advertising for a designer and engineer responsible for augmented-reality mapping.

    The positions include a “special projects” front-end software engineer and a designer for local, mobile and social apps. Both job descriptions list augmented-reality mapping as a top responsibility. The designer position requires the ability to “integrate mobile platforms, augmented reality mapping, geo-location, and real-time interaction.”

    There’s no evidence that these positions have anything to do with the rumored head-up display (HUD) glasses, but the timing is interesting.
    Last week, a New York Times article reported that Google was allegedly working on a pair of HUD glasses to be released later this year. The glasses would look similar to Oakley Thump sunglasses, and provide augmented-reality data overlays about landmarks and even passers-by right in front of a user’s eyes.

    The story provided a provocative glimpse into the future of augmented reality, but created more questions than it answered. How will the glasses actually work? And can Google convince the public that HUD glasses and augmented reality are more than just niche technologies?

    We talked with Blair MacIntyre, director of the Augmented Environments Lab at Georgia Tech, about the rumored glasses, and he got right to the point: “They will have to do a lot for people to consider buying them.”

    How Might They Work?


    According to the Times report, information will be displayed on a “small screen that will sit a few inches from someone’s eye.” A low-resolution camera will monitor the real world and “overlay information about locations, surrounding buildings, and friends who might be nearby.” The glasses will allegedly work with a user’s Android device, and will ship with a 3G or 4G data connection (that’s right: get ready for yet another data bill).

    The description above suggests two divergent (and conflicting) paths to information display. The reference to a “small screen that will sit a few inches from someone’s eye” evokes comparisons to Recon Instrument’s Mod Live snow goggles. These have normal lenses, and HUD information is delivered via a small, discrete LCD screen that sits at the bottom of the right-hand lens. To see the screen, the user merely looks down and refocuses his attention. This isn’t an “overlay” feature by any means, but it is a potentially safe (if also somewhat conventional) approach to HUD glasses.


    The Recon Instruments snow sports goggles have a "micro LCD" screen at the bottom of the lower-right lens that provides a small window of HUD data.
    Source: Recon Instruments

    But there’s another much more sci-fi possibility (and it too was evoked in the Times article): All the augmented reality data will be displayed directly in the lenses of the glasses. The lenses would allow the user to simultaneously see the world at large as well as graphical overlays. This approach presents a manufacturing challenge. Indeed, how do you deliver augmented reality overlays via a lens that in and of itself must remain at least semi-transparent?

    MacIntyre says, “The problem with transparency is how to do it in a way that actually works in lots of situations.” Nonetheless, he notes that transparency could be accomplished in two different ways.

    First, the lenses could take the form of semi-transparent displays that allow users to see directly though them as they would with regular glasses.

    Integrated with LCD or OLED display technology, the lenses would allow both ambient light and projected light to reach a user’s eyes. MacIntyre said such a system bears the characteristics of a two-way mirror.

    Because of their integrated display layer, the lenses would have a slight tint to them, and wouldn’t be completely transparent. This basic technology can currently be seen in the Samsung “smart window display” concept as well as the Haier Designer Transparent TV.

    MacIntyre cautions that this approach has drawbacks: As a HUD user moves from one environment to another, changes in ambient lighting directly affect the visibility of the data overlay. “The problem with the [integrated display] approach is that the blend of outside light and display light is kind of fixed,” he says. “For the blending to work, there has to be an optimal amount of light coming in from the world. So if the world is very dark, you’re not going to see much of it — but you’ll see display. If the world is very bright, you’re not going to see much of the display — you’re going to see mostly world.”

    In order to alleviate theses problems, Google would need to implement a feature that measures ambient lighting, and adjusts the display overlay’s brightness to ensure visibility. Augmented reality glasses that require the user to stay within a fixed spectrum of ambient light are fine for industrial and medical uses, MacIntyre says, but wouldn’t excite many consumers.
    But there’s also a second possibility for overlaying graphical data on top of what we observe in the field: lasers.

    MacIntyre says a virtual retinal display (VRD) could use lasers to draw images directly onto the retina of the eye. In fact, MicroVision is currently working on this technology for consumer-based wearable technology. Because the graphical overlays would be visible “in-eye” so to speak, there wouldn’t be any concern about changes in ambient light conditions.
    Indeed, convincing consumers that shooting lasers into their eyes might prove the trickier challenge.

    Regardless, MacIntyre believes that Google could bring some type of visual overlay glasses to market in the rumored $250 to $600 price range if it’s willing to eat the cost of R&D, and subsidize the price of the glasses. Google is already rumored to be working on optics technology, and will continue that research in its new secret lab.

    Will They Be Safe?

    “It doesn’t just matter where your eyes are. It matters where your brain is focused,” says Adam Grazzaley, Associate Professor of Neurology, Physiology and Psychiatry at UCSF. Grazzaley studies neural mechanisms of memory and attention, and finds it concerning that users might wear HUD glasses while attempting other tasks — like, say, walking.

    “Our ability to engage in goal-directed behavior is very sensitive to interference from our environment,” Grazzaley told Wired. Moreover, said Grazzaley, users should be concerned about layering ever more complex stimuli and tasks on top of activities they’re already engaged in. Walking and especially driving demand a lot of focused attention — if only because the results are so serious when accidents occur.

    Grazzaley noted that even if Google were to forgo placing HUD displays directly inside the lenses — instead opting for discrete lenses a la the Recon Instruments approach — there could still be problems. “Just because it’s not right in your field of view doesn’t mean it can’t have a distraction effect,” he said.

    Pranav Mistry, an MIT Media Lab researcher and one of the inventors of SixthSense wearable computing system, exposed a fundamental flaw with augmented reality: “The human eye cannot focus the same on two levels,” he told Wired. “Having something overlaid in your eye — over the top of your eye — you cannot focus on the background at the same time. For example, if you want to augment something on an object that is far away from you, your eye has to keep changing focus.”

    Will They Actually Sell?

    Putting aside technical feasibility and even public safety, Google’s rumored glasses still face a daunting challenge: commercial viability. Are these HUD glasses something consumers even want? According to Forrester analyst Sarah Rotman Epps, wearable devices are one of the top five computing formfactors to watch. She believes that the first generation of Google’s HUD glasses wouldn’t sell in any significant volume, but would still get developers and consumers thinking about wearable products.

    “Google wants to spur innovation,” she said, “and humanity will work out the essential issues over the long run.”

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    Default Re: Google Begins Testing Its Augmented-Reality Glasses

    I wear glasses. I can not IMAGINE wearing a pair with shit scrolling in front of my eyes, which I won't even be able to focus on anyway. I can't see this doing anything but giving people migraines and epileptic seizures....
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    Default Re: Google Begins Testing Its Augmented-Reality Glasses

    Google Begins Testing Its Augmented-Reality Glasses

    | April 4, 2012, 12:00 pm 49


    Photos via Google, Google showed off its first venture into wearable computing, called Project Glass.

    If you venture into a coffee shop in the coming months and see someone with a pair of futuristic glasses that look like a prop from “Star Trek,” don’t worry. It’s probably just a Google employee testing the company’s new augmented-reality glasses.


    On Wednesday, Google gave people a clearer picture of its secret initiative called Project Glass. The glasses are the company’s first venture into wearable computing.

    The glasses are not yet for sale. Google will, however, be testing them in public.

    In a post shared on Google Plus, employees in the company laboratory known as Google X, including Babak Parviz, Steve Lee and Sebastian Thrun, asked people for input about the prototype of Project Glass. Mr. Lee, a Google product manager and originally worked on Google mapping software Latitude, mobile maps and indoor maps, is responsible for the software component and the location-based aspects of the glasses.

    “We’re sharing this information now because we want to start a conversation and learn from your valuable input,” the three employees wrote. “Please follow along as we share some of our ideas and stories. We’d love to hear yours, too. What would you like to see from Project Glass?”



    The prototype version Google showed off on Wednesday looked like a very polished and well-designed pair of wrap-around glasses with a clear display that sits above the eye. The glasses can stream information to the lenses and allow the wearer to send and receive messages through voice commands. There is also a built-in camera to record video and take pictures.

    The New York Times first wrote about the glasses in late February, describing an augmented-reality display that would sit over the eye and run on the Android mobile platform.

    A video released by Google on Wednesday, which can be seen below, showed potential uses for Project Glass. A man wanders around the streets of New York City, communicating with friends, seeing maps and information, and snapping pictures. It concludes with him video-chatting with a girlfriend as the sun sets over the city. All of this is seen through the augmented-reality glasses.


    University of WashingtonBabak Parviz, who is working on Project Glass, developed contact lenses with pixels embedded in the display.

    Project Glass could hypothetically become Project Contact Lens. Mr. Parviz, who is also an associate professor at the University of Washington, specializes in bionanotechnology, which is the fusion of tiny technologies and biology. He most recently built a tiny contact lens that has embedded electronics and can display pixels to a person’s eye.

    Early reports of the glasses said prototypes could look like a pair of Oakley Thumps — which are clunky and obtrusive sunglasses — but the version Google unveiled Wednesday looks more graceful. There are reportedly dozens of other shapes and variations of the glasses in the works, some of which can sit over a person’s normal eyeglasses.

    People I have spoken with who have have seen Project Glass said there is a misconception that the glasses will interfere with people’s daily life too much, constantly streaming information to them and distracting from the real world. But these people said the glasses actually free people up from technology.

    One person who had used the glasses said: “They let technology get out of your way. If I want to take a picture I don’t have to reach into my pocket and take out my phone; I just press a button at the top of the glasses and that’s it.”

    Project Glass is one of many projects currently being built inside the Google X offices, a secretive laboratory near Google’s main Mountain View, Calif., campus where engineers and scientists are also working on robots and space elevators.


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    Default Re: Google Begins Testing Its Augmented-Reality Glasses

    Kinda like the dude on Mass Effect

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    Default Re: Google Begins Testing Its Augmented-Reality Glasses

    I don't know Mass Effect... movie?

    I just tried something. I tried to "focus" on the frames of my glasses above the lens.

    No way... can't do it.
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    Default Re: Google Begins Testing Its Augmented-Reality Glasses

    Video game my son plays.

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    Default Re: Google Begins Testing Its Augmented-Reality Glasses

    The HUDs I've seen are windshield... and/or on goggles.

    I'm just saying, I have pretty bad eye sight. I've very near sighted. My eye sight is something like 20/400. I think that means what most people see at 400 feet, I have to be 20 feet from it. lol

    In any case, I can't focus directly on anything very close to my eyes.

    I can focus on reading materials at about 7" to 8". If the text is very small, or there is not much light, I can't read it at all. I usually MUST take off my glasses to read small text (because my bifocals aren't right any more).

    I can see traffic signs and lights and other things fine for driving, or sailing. I just am not very good with close up (using glasses).
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    Default Re: Google Begins Testing Its Augmented-Reality Glasses

    Honestly, augmented reality vision is one technological advancement I am really looking forward to.

    Even more so if it can get to the point where they provide driving aids (not just GPS/directions but also collision/pedestrian warnings), thermal, and low light enhancement. I'm also looking forward to when the augmented reality vision can be tied directly to the brain for control.

    Having the information of the internet and more right at your eyes without having to fumble with tablets, laptops, or smartphone would be phenomenal.

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    Default Re: Google Begins Testing Its Augmented-Reality Glasses

    I want them to mess with genetic augmentation that is retroactive. I want good vision, a built in VHF/UHF radio and a GPS system. Not to mention being able to see in the dark (infravision) and in pitch blackness (ultravision).

    And I want to be strong (like Superman) and fly... ok, maybe not fly.
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    Default Re: Google Begins Testing Its Augmented-Reality Glasses

    I want the whole experience from "Strange Days".

    I love that movie, specially the part about the girl in the shower.
    "Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat."
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    Default Re: Google Begins Testing Its Augmented-Reality Glasses

    Only drawback to internet in the brain is all that snooping that will take place in what used to be the last bastion of privacy.

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    Default Re: Google Begins Testing Its Augmented-Reality Glasses

    Hack yer BRAIN!


    Pretty soon, we'll have people walking around in a daze saying "BRAINS!"

    Hmmmmm wasn't that in a movie.... where's my shotgun....
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    Default Re: Google Begins Testing Its Augmented-Reality Glasses

    U.S. troops to have 'super vision' as Pentagon orders electric contact lenses that let them 'see' through drones flying overhead

    • Lenses can let troops see through 'eyes' of drones flying above
    • Can 'layer' target information over view of world
    • Contact lenses don't impede fighter's vision
    • Equivalent to a 240-inch 3D television from 10 feet

    By Rob Waugh
    UPDATED: 05:53 EST, 14 April 2012


    Google wowed the world this week with its Project Glass computer glasses - but the U.S. Army is investing in a technology one step ahead.

    The Pentagon has placed an order with Innovega for lenses which focus 3D battlefield information from drones and satellites directly into people's eyeballs.

    The tiny 'screens' sit directly on users' eyeballs and work with a pair of lightweight glasses with a built-in translucent screen.



    The lenses sit directly on the eyeball, and have been engineered using nanoscale techniques to work as a focusing device that pairs with a pair of hi-tech glasses



    Crucially, the devices can be worn while moving about - previous bulky 'VR headsets' have blindfolded their users and can only be used sitting down

    The experience is equivalent to a 240-inch television viewed at a distance of 10 feet, says Innovega's CEO Steve Willey.

    'Warfighters need to maintain their full vision while on the battlefield,' says the company. 'At the same time a tremendous amount of data, graphics and video are collected and are required by specific warfighters in the field.

    More...


    'Some is generated from remote cameras, drones, or satellites. Fully transparent video eyewear that is configured into standard issue field glasses would constitute an important step forward. Innovega is actively in partnership to develop this application.'

    Crucially, the devices can be worn while moving about - previous bulky 'VR headsets' have blindfolded their users and can only be used sitting down.

    The effect could be similar to the lenses worn by Tom Cruise in Minority Report.



    Google's vision of 'techno glasses': In demonstrations, the glasses are mainly voice-controlled, using voice commands to bring up contacts, send emails and search



    Google's 'heads up display': The demonstration shows off a weather forecast layered over a view of the world



    University of York's 'Virtual Cocoon': Like many head-mounted displays, it's bulky and not transparent - ie wearers cannot safely use it while moving about

    DARPA - the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, thought of as the American military's 'mad scientist' wing - has been funding research on 'soldier mounted displays' for some time, but previous versions have been bulky.

    The lenses, made with nano-scale engineering processes,work as a hi-tech focusing device, which allows Innovega's glasses to be considerably less bulky than previous devices.

    The lenses themselves require no power, and thus can sit safely on the eyeball.



    Innovega claims that the lenses could become successful quite rapidly because of the huge number of people who already wear contact lenses worldwide

    DARPA projects are often oddball technology, but it also has a history of far-sighted technological leaps.

    DARPA invented the first virtual reality devices, and one of the precursors of the modern internet.

    DARPA Says, 'Innovega's iOptiks are contact lenses that enhance normal vision by allowing a wearer to view virtual and augmented reality images without the need for bulky apparatus. '

    'Instead of oversized virtual reality helmets, digital images are projected onto tiny full-color displays that are very near the eye.'

    These novel contact lenses allow users to focus simultaneously on objects that are close up and far away.'

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    Default Re: Google Begins Testing Its Augmented-Reality Glasses

    Some newly leaked footage looking through the Google augmented reality set:



    And word is Microsoft is getting into the game too. Some footage of theirs has been leaked as well:




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