Google glasses competitors in the works

April 9, 2012

Google’s competitors are already working on “Project Glass” rivals, VentureBeat.com reported Friday:

Topeka Capital Markets analyst Brian White revealed this morning to Boy Genius Report that during supply chain meetings in Asia, he learned about how Google’s competitors are already developing products to give Google Glass a run for its money.

“Our meetings today indicate that Google glasses (a.k.a., Project Glass) already has competitors working on similar initiatives to improve consumer’s mobility around Internet access,” White wrote. “We expect to be hear more about projects such as this and others in the coming years. This could drive a new wave of innovation across the mobility space.”

It might be a stretch to call these competing products “clones” — after all, we don’t really know when development on Glass or any Glass-like products from rivals may have begun, and we don’t know how much future releases from companies like Apple or Samsung or any current mobile OEMs may emulate Glass’s look and features.

And it’s moreover important to note that far from being a mass-market-ready gadget already on production lines, Glass is still very much in its conceptual stages. “We took a few design photos to show what this technology could look like and created a video to demonstrate what it might enable you to do,” wrote Googlers Babak Parviz, Steve Lee, and Sebastian Thrun of the collateral that set the geek world abuzz earlier this week.

With the unveiling of the glasses last week, Google gave consumers a peek into its secret Google X labs, The Post’s Hayley Tsukayama reports:

So what else is Google rumored to have on tap at its clandestine research facility?

One idea that’s been written about quite a bit is the self-driving car, which got a lot of press recently when Google released a video of a blind man taking the car to the local Taco Bell. The cars run using laser range finders and video cameras to navigate on the road, according to a report from The Post’s Dominic Basulto. The cars are meant to lower emissions, eliminate congestion and save the lives of those who might have otherwise died in car crashes caused by human error.

Another project from Google X takes a high-level — really high level — view of the problem of expensive space travel: the space elevator. This idea has been a sci-fi staple for decades, but the basic premise is that someday we’ll be able to hop into an elevator on the ground here on Earth and ride it all the way up to the Earth’s orbit or into outer space.

There are, as you might imagine, a few problems with this concept. For one, there’s the logistics of anchoring the top elevator. There’s also the problem of space junk, of getting the elevator to play nice with Earth’s orbit and, of course, the cost.

Other ideas rumored to be a part of Google Labs at least sound a little more readily achievable: Internet-connected refrigerators, dinner plates that collect information about what you’re eating and robots that act as avatars for workers.

As for the Google glasses prototypes, the company isn’t handing any out yet, the Associated Press reports :

The company didn’t say when regular people can expect to get their hands on a piece of Project Glass, but going by how quickly Google tends to come out with new products, it may not be long. Enderle estimates it could be about six months to a year before broader tests are coming, and a year or more for the first version of the product.

With such an immersive device as this, that sort of speed could be dangerous, he cautions.

“It’s coming. Whether Google is going to do it or someone else is going to do it, it’s going to happen,” Enderle said. “The question is whether we’ll be ready, and given history we probably won’t be. As a race we tend to be somewhat suicidal with regard to how we implement this stuff.”

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