Google Glass was made available to the general public yesterday, for a 24 hour period only. A statement from Google explained that this short sales window was the next step in its ‘Explorer’ programme, where, for just $1,500 (plus tax), regular consumers can try out the product.
But, as innovative as Glass is tech-wise, there is still considerable resentment towards that eye-watering price tag, not to mention its rather goofy aesthetic reputation. Google’s recent partnership with eyewear design group Luxottica has proven that the company is serious about curing one of Glass’s biggest birthing pains, i.e. its image problem.
“Historically, Google care more about setting itself up so its operating system and services mediate your everyday experience than it does selling you the toys that do it,” writes James Robinson at Pando Daily. “These developments, assessed as a cluster, would strongly suggest that Google is starting to fancy itself as a hardware player.”
However, Google’s hardware plans don’t end at fancy spectacles. According to The Huffington Post, Google is also currently working on a camera that can be placed directly onto the human eye. As in, the actual eyeball.
Last month, Google filed a patent application for a ‘smart contact lens’ which would work in cohesion with other wearable devices. Shortly after, the company then filed another for a micro camera system which can be integrated into a contact lens, turning the human eye into a camera, where images can be captured simply by blinking. The lens will also follow the natural movement of the eye, tracking your gaze so that it sees exactly what you see.
One ambitious use of these smart lenses would be to help blind and vision-impaired individuals cross roads more safely. An overview of the patent application at Patent Bolt explains it all: “The processing component can communicate the processed image data or a command to a remote device such as an Android smartphone which can provide an audible warning to the blind person… For example, the smartphone will be able to provide a voice generated warning that the crosswalk isn’t safe to cross. The system, as noted in Google’s opening summary also points to the camera being able to detect ‘faces’, which could be another advantage for the blind.”
Let’s not get too excited just yet, though. “As with all patents,” says Dino Grandoni, “this shrunken version of Google Glass is a castle-in-the-sky idea that may never come to market.”