Google Reveals Prototype for AR-enhanced Glasses

May 17, 2022
4 min read

In Google's annual I/O developer conference, the tech giant showcased a plethora of products and gadgets in a step to solidify its monopoly in the trade of tech. While other rival big players like Meta and Apple are building on the platform for Virtual Reality, Google seems to aim to be the leader in the world of Augmented Reality.

A decade ago, Google miserably failed at its attempt to attract consumers for the internet-connected Google glasses. In 2022, the company is back with a paradigm for glasses powered by AR-enhanced Google Translate. Hailing AR as the "new frontier of computing", CEO Sundar Pichai stated that there's still a long time before the release of the AR Glasses in the market.

A demo video about the gadget hinted at how communication barriers would be dissolved and bridge translation to be more concise and concrete. The video shows how the challenges of a Mandarin-speaking mother who fails to properly communicate with her English-speaking daughter of not being able to speak the language precisely. The AR overlay of glasses overcomes the problem of being lost in translation with Google Translate. With several other examples to follow, the video makes a statement on how revolutionary this idea could be in the future for free-flow conversations.

AR v/s VR: Know the Difference

Both AR and VR might sound similar to you in the context of their attempt to redefine reality but both work on two different principles. VR projects you in an entirely virtual environment and therefore substitutes the actual real-world experience. While AR adds on to reality with an overlay of virtual 2D/3D objects and thus "augments the reality". You can interact with elements in both AR and VR seamlessly, presenting an immersive feel to real-world actuality. As VR is a lot more equipment-dependent, long-time use causing discomfort is a major con. Additionally, VR is perceived to be more individual-centric, while AR caters to the social nature of human beings. Without a doubt, technology is witnessing a revolution, and both AR and VR will emerge to be game-changers in the following decades.

Focus Is Now On The Utility of AR

The development of AR-VR glasses is not new in 2022. However, they have not broken the market to be mainstream. As of now, developments in the world of AR are targeted only in the fields of entertainment. The use of AR in video games to social media filters is common and popular, but the craze for associated gadgets for a more enhanced experience has not been significant enough to make into a person's must-have list. The reason is its lack of use in essential day-to-day practices. AR has entered the world of education to present a student-friendly interactive form and henceforth is making its way to a better current-day mode of living as a whole. Even in this mega announcement by Google, one can easily point out how the benefits of AR glasses in solving real-life problems have been targeted instead of weaving a dream of any super-cool tech product for a simple augmented reality experience. The blend of Google Translate with AR will ease many people's lives and even potentially uphold the diversity of different languages suppressing the need for a universal lingo.

AR capabilities are extremely useful on phones. The magic really comes alive when you can use them in real life, in the real world, without technology getting in our ways. That potential is what gets us most excited about augmented reality: the capability to spend time focusing on what matters in the real world, in our real lives, Google CEO summarized the future of AR in a blog post.

Google's Bet on AR Glasses

What launched in 2013 to be the next big thing fizzled out to be just another example of "ahead of the time" hardware. The learnings of Google Glasses must be a perfect case study for the conglomerate if it wants AR glasses to get the success they expect. The use case being specified upfront, tackling communication barriers as its prime functionality, it needs to be seen is what more can it add on to and what pricing is being set for a pair. Can navigation support and reading SMS or e-mails be a potential feature as an additional? Only time will tell as no information was provided related to its launch. The problem is universal, and hence if affordability is under check, it will definitely be one of Google's best wearable products in the years to come.

Another interesting account related to the announcement is not creating over-expectation about something but rather solving a real-life hurdle with options presently available to us and hence keeping everyone on toes for its launch. Unlike how Metaverse and surrounding ideas are playing where people are left confused about what it actually is. As of now, the challenges that AR faces are privacy and security concerns. Thus, even if a proper solution to these shortcomings comes in due time, a language translator is a great tool that can be integrated into a wearable like glasses: that is exactly where the merit of the Google prototype lies.

The fact that presenters refrained from calling the untitled product Google Glasses means that there is a lot more on the way coming. Till then, one can simply wait and watch how the entire tech community reacts to these announcements and whether the sale of presently available AR-VR gadgets gets a boost amongst the masses.