Google smart glasses to launch by end of 2012

Google HUD product rumours

Google is rumoured to be readying a set of smart glasses for launch before the end of 2012.

The New York Times reports that "several Google employees" have provided information about the new product, which is being worked on at the top secret Google X labs. This long-anticipated wearable technology will provide users with on-demand information in a heads up display (HUD).

A camera in the front of the glasses will apparently combine with GPS, allowing the user to check in with Latitude and find their friends, use Google Maps to find things nearby, or use augmented reality apps. The NYT also reported that the lenses of the glasses will "overlay information", suggesting they won't obstruct the wearer's visibility, but the device is "not designed to be worn constantly".

As for navigation, Scott Weintraub at heard from an anonymous tipster that "the navigation system currently used is a head tilting-to scroll and click". Thankfully, "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 insider also described the glasses as thick-rimmed with a few buttons on the arms.

Real-life Google Goggles

The precedent for the rumoured Google glasses technology is already widely available: Google Goggles. Since December 2009, this app has enabled 'visual search', including barcode scanning, text recognition, and searching Google by image (pictured). The most recent update includes a 'continuous mode' that doesn't require a photo to be taken, and allows the user to scan snippets of text in a physical format and search for an online version.

Adrian Mursec, senior developer at theEword, said: "The existence of Google Goggles means the rumours of a wearable headset using the same technology is not beyond the realms of possibility. It's an exciting proposition, and could be an intriguing prospect for advertisers and app developers. However, it's not clear yet whether the device will be a consumer product like Google's smartphones, or is merely an experiment like the self-driving car the company tested in 2010."