Google wants to test prototypes of new AR glasses in public from August. In the lab, the company has been researching AR glasses that display translations in real time for some time. At Google I/O 2022, the company also showed glasses that display translations right in front of the wearer’s eyes.
Now the concept is to be tested in the real world. In addition to translations, the device should also support its wearers with transcriptions and a navigation function.
Google writes in a blog post that it is hoped that the tests outside the laboratory will give a better understanding of how these devices can help people in their everyday lives. The tests outside the laboratory walls are also necessary in order to be able to include factors such as the weather or heavily frequented intersections in the development of the AR navigation function. These are difficult if not impossible to replicate in the laboratory.
The AR glasses are to be tested at selected locations within the USA – according to the blog post by a few dozen Google employees and external testers and copywriters. According to an FAQ page, the tests are subject to strict local restrictions, and the testers’ room for maneuver is apparently limited. The glasses should not support photo or video recordings, even if the prototypes have microphones and cameras in addition to a display in the glasses. However, individual functions are based on image data – for example, when a café menu is translated using the glasses.
According to The Verge, Google has already warned that some of the prototypes could look like regular glasses. An LED light shows people nearby whether the device has stored image data for analysis and debugging purposes. They could then simply ask the testers to delete the data. The company stores image data collected for these purposes using the glasses on a secure server. In addition, sensitive personal data, such as pictures of faces or license plates, would be removed before being stored on a secure server. The image data would then be deleted after 30 days. Also, according to the blog post, all testers underwent device, protocol, privacy, and security training.
Avoiding a second glasshole debacle
By announcing the tests in good time, Google seems to want to avoid a second Google Glass debacle. The company’s first smart glasses were largely rejected by the public, with wearers being decried as “glassholes”.
Google isn’t the only tech company working on AR glasses. With Project Aria, Facebook has been testing AR glasses since 2020 that collect data for AR research.
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