Google reveals new Tech glasses for universal translation
Google brings AI translations to new data glasses – and clearly commits to augmented reality glasses.
At the I/O 2022 developer conference, Google talked a lot about smartphones, tablets and watches. And then it surprised with a real innovation: For the first time, the company showed a new pair of data glasses. They translate speech in real time and display the translated words in the field of view.
Slim data glasses with display: Google is likely to use North technology
Google’s still unnamed data glasses are almost indistinguishable from conventional glasses. This is a trademark of the Canadian data glasses manufacturer North, which Google bought out in the summer of 2020. At that time, however, Google scrapped the almost finished Focals 2 data glasses.
So now we see the North technology in a new guise as translation glasses. It is not clear if and when the glasses will become a product; Google calls the device a “prototype” in the video. It’s also not clear if the glasses could support other features. But there is a high chance that this would be the case. North also had various apps, from emails to navigation.
The first North glasses received excellent reviews at the time, but were complicated to distribute. The glasses’ display had to be customized for each buyer, which initially required a visit to a North store with a 3D scan. North was unable to sell enough units and ran into financial difficulties, which eventually ended in its acquisition by Google.
Subtitles for the world – and a commitment to AR glasses
The biggest technical innovation is probably the software running on Google’s new data glasses: For years, Google has been researching AI-supported text transcription in real time, as used on YouTube or on newer Pixel smartphones, as well as AI-supported translations in real time, which have also been available for Pixel smartphones for some time. These two software innovations now merge in a new device.
After the presentation of the glasses, Google CEO Sundar Pichai made a clear commitment to augmented reality glasses. AR is “the next frontier of computing”, which only develops its full potential in the glasses format.
“We’ve been building augmented reality into many Google products, from Google Lens to multisearch, scene exploration, and Live and immersive views in Maps. These AR capabilities are already useful on phones and the magic will really come alive when you can use them in the real world without the technology getting in the way,” Pichai wrote.
This potential to interact with computer content while keeping an eye on the real world is what excites Google about AR, according to Pichai. Rumor has it that the tech company is already working on advanced AR glasses in Project Iris. Among others, former Hololens optics boss Bernard Kress moved from Microsoft to Google for the project.