The Android powered Google glass, for which the company has just released some preliminary information, is rumored for commercial launch by the end of 2012. The launch could be timed for November this year to tap into the peak gift shopping weeks before Christmas.
Google has declined any comment on these rumors and media reports quote unnamed Google employees. Such speculative news stories have now become commonplace in the personal electronics industry. These news reports also claim that Google Inc. wants to emulate Apple’s runaway success with the iPhone and the iPad. Google’s acquisition of Motorola Mobility in August 2011 for $12.5 billion is said to provide the ideal product manufacturing platform for Google to launch such innovative products.
The speculation about features of the Google Glass
The first reports of the product, back in December 2011, suggested a heads-up display that would work in conjunction with a smartphone carried in the pocket. The display was said to be near one eye and off to one side to permit uninterrupted front vision. The Google glass would connect to the smartphone through Bluetooth and function hands-free. The Google glass user would be able read text and e-mail messages, use the search and map functions and stay connected to social networking sites while walking or driving.
These features would be in addition to making and receiving voice calls through voice recognition software. Navigating the screen would be by head movements and the device would accept voice commands. The Google glass would play music or video through ear-buds and also include a front-facing camera that can take pictures and upload them to the smartphone. In essence, the product was primarily expected to be a heads-up display screen for the smartphone.
More recent reports suggest that the Google glass will have much greater capability and is the first of a new class of “wearable” portable computing and communications device that will compete for a share of both the smartphone and the tablet markets. The Google glass would stay connected to a 3G or 4G network, have built-in computing capability for several of Google’s on-line services including voice communication, internet based search and map functions, connection to social networks, streaming music and video and even the Google Wallet function for payments.
The heads-up display feature would permit the Google glass to be used conveniently for watching streaming video or sports telecasts and as an e-book reader. Google had asked for ideas for use of this new product and several thousand suggestions have come in. These include use in step-by-step coaching of workmen performing skilled tasks, guiding surgeons in medical procedures and computer based instruction.
Since Google earns most of its revenues through advertising, the Google glass display is said to be designed to show context-based advertising tailored to the user. For example, if the Google glass user is walking down a city street close to lunch time, ads for food outlets in the neighborhood could get displayed.
The Google glass is expected to be priced in the $250 to $600 range, about the price of a good smartphone.
The Epson Moverio BT-100 display
While all this attention was focused on the Google glass, Seiko Epson the $11 billion Japanese electronics giant famous for its printers and other computer related products launched the Moverio BT-100 that appears to have all the features attributed the Google glass. The Epson product is intended as a large screen display for streaming video, gaming and such applications.
The Moverio projects images onto a virtual screen in front of the viewer, the size of the image growing as the wearer stares into the distance. The effect is that of the wearer seeing an 80 inch high definition display. The Moverio BT-100 is paired with a wired track-pad device powered by Android that can download content from the internet.
The BT-100 however has a 1GB RAM and can accept micro SDHC cards for up to 32 GB memory. The built-in rechargeable battery is good for 6 hours of use. With these features, the Moverio can be tailored to perform all of the functions the Google glass is capable of. Epson has priced the BT-100 at a steep $700 and the user response to this device could well define the direction of the market for such a product.
The coming months will surely see lots of action in this field including new app development and early next year we should know if the wearable computer emerges as a revolutionary new product or remains an interesting accessory to a smartphone.
About the author: Alyssa Clarke is a blogger who also happens to be a tech buff. She is always on a look out for latest gadgets and tech stuff. She is a cal lover too and her dream machine happens to be Bugatti Veyron.