In Vernor Vinge's novel Rainbows End, the author imagines a near future where everybody wears computers knitted into their clothing, which are connected to augmented reality contact lenses or glasses. Everybody looks at the world through a layer of data, whether that's just social information about the people they're talking to, or a full-blown MMO overlay that turns their college campus into a medieval village. People use these AR goggles to do everything from research to gaming; Vinge imagines AR as a technology that can pull the web into the real world.
Now, Google is going to do exactly what Vinge predicted. Over at the New York Times, Nick Bilton reports on a Google X project that could put AR glasses on your face in less than a year, for roughly the cost of a smart phone. Bilton writes:
The glasses will have a low-resolution built-in camera that will be able to monitor the world in real time and overlay information about locations, surrounding buildings and friends who might be nearby, according to the Google employees. The glasses are not designed to be worn constantly - although Google expects some of the nerdiest users will wear them a lot - but will be more like smartphones, used when needed.
Internally, the Google X team has been actively discussing the privacy implications of the glasses and the company wants to ensure that people know if they are being recorded by someone wearing a pair of glasses with a built-in camera.
The project is currently being built in the Google X offices, a secretive laboratory near Google's main campus that is charged with working on robots, space elevators and dozens of other futuristic projects.
Wait — Google is building a space elevator too? I hope it's going to be something I can see even when I take my AR goggles off.
Read more at the New York Times.
Image via Bruce Branit's fascinating short film about a guy using AR contacts to build a holographic world.