Google’s HUD Glasses: Rumor or Reality?

// Posted by on 02/28/2012 (12:43 PM)


From 12-hour road trips to five-minute walks around the corner, I use my iPhone map for almost every journey I embark on. Its ability to show me either a satellite image of where I am or point out landmarks like a road map, allow me to navigate like a pro. However, it is the map’s ability to combine the two features that makes it so valuable. The hybrid feature of the map also exists online through the use of Google Maps. And soon, it may exist literally right before our eyes.


Screen shot of Google Maps features

In Roberto Baldwin’s article on, he explains that more evidence has been found to back up the rumors of Google’s HUD glasses. HUD stands for head-up display and the rumored glasses would look like designer sunglasses, yet allow the wearer to see more than a tinted view of the world. The HUD glasses would show what a normal pair of sunglasses would show with an overlay of information about the objects that someone is looking at. The HUD glasses would put the hybrid ability of the iPhone map right in front of the wearer’s eyes. Though there has been confusion about where the information would appear (either in a small screen in the corner of the lens or directly on the lens of the glasses) it is agreed that the glasses bring about some safety concerns for the wearer. Especially if the information were displayed across the actual lens, the viewer’s focus would have to shift back and forth, making it difficult to perform simple tasks such as walking and driving. Though distracting, this type of display would be futuristic and according to Baldwin, “much more sci-fi.” The glasses would include “augmented-reality data overlays” about streets, landmarks and even people.


How the display could look

There have been rumors of the creation of these glasses and Google’s recent search for a “special projects” front-end software engineer and a designer for local, mobile and social apps only propelled the rumors further. Aside from obvious safety concerns, there are other questions that may come up if the glasses are released and become popular. The technology would be extremely advanced and accessible without a computer or a Smartphone, creating a device that seems like futuristic spy wear. If street signs and landmarks were all that appear on the screen of these HUD glasses, they would be no more than a more mobile version of an iPhone app. However, if the glasses continued to advance and were able to give information on passersby- a possibility that has already been discussed- the technology may begin to invade the privacy of others. With these glasses, you may be able to learn a lot more about a person than they would normally want to tell. You may be able to drive by a home and know whom it belongs to, if people are in it and even where in the home they are. While potentially hazardous for the user, these HUD glasses may also become a dangerous invasion of privacy for the public, especially if they are in the hands of a dangerous person. Do you think these glasses would become popular if they were in fact released at the end of 2012? Are there other risks that experts have not considered, both for the wearer and the general public?

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Cameron said...

I recently read an article about these glasses and I think they are fascinating. I definitely think that they will become popular, as long as they work as described and are not priced too steeply. Personally, I would love to own a pair, but even as I read your post I was bracing myself for the fact that they will most likely be well out of my price range.

I think you raise a lot of important questions. These glasses could be very dangerous for drivers and as you said, even for those walking past who do not own a pair. I think it is perfectly fine and beneficial for stores and addresses to be displayed, but personal information or if saying if people are in a home definitely goes too far.

I cannot think of any other concerns, but I believe that the ones you have raised must be answered before these are released on the market, much less become popular.

// 02/28/2012 at 3:49 pm

Max said...

These Google goggles bring to mind many different aspects of the arguments surrounding the concept of technological integration. As Renee’s previous article pointed to, the concepts of Mcluhan and Stiegler make up the two aspects of the concepts of technological integration: new media functioning as extensions of ourselves and that technology allows for cognitive distribution. The ability to use new technology to seamlessly and in a way that makes your life better is what makes new technology sell, like that iPhone Molly can’t live without. However, the argument of technology integration is a double edged sword, I’m reminded of a family I recently saw at a Richmond restaurant who had two laptops open and a cell phone in use during their meal. This represents the problem of reliance upon these technologies that make our lives better: we become so attached to them that we become distanced from genuine human experience. Something like these goggles seems to be an even more distracting technology than those cell phones we can’t stop texting with while we’re walking down the street. The example of the goggles telling you the name of someone you see at a party seems slightly far fetched and wouldn’t it be better to just remember peoples’ names? Our reliance upon technology sometimes seems to negate what general courtesy used to dictate. I have several friends who attend Kenyon College where they have a tradition concerning their major walkway through campus called Middle Path: no cell phones on the path and you have to say hello to everyone you see. The major question that I think is rarely asked about new technology is whether it is truly enhancing your human experience.

// 02/28/2012 at 9:55 pm