Google Glasses: your arm is a keyboard


Google has somehow found a way to up the sci-fi levels on its proposed Project Glass spectacles: it wants to add laser beams.

The project aims to create “augmented reality” spectacles which can overlay visual information directly into your eyeline. At its simplest this could mean getting turn-by-turn walking directions in cities, but it could also include tools such as getting e-mails and texts without needing to pull out a pocket device. It could even mean being able to almost instantly take a picture of anything you can see.

The current working idea is that the glasses will have a microphone to allow for voice commands, but now it’s emerged Google wants to deal with situations where you can’t or don’t want to speak out loud, such as, well, anywhere you want to maintain your dignity.

A newly-published patent application suggests two additional gadgets could fit on the arms of the spectacles. There’d be a miniature laser projector that can beam a virtual keyboard or a set of buttons onto a tabletop or even your arm or hand. There’d then also be an infra-red camera pointing in the same direction that could detect you “touching” the buttons with a finger.

It’s just an idea at the moment, but it does appear it’s one Google is seriously trying to develop rather than just registering the patent defensively. If it works, it opens up the possibility on adding an earpiece and turning the spectacles into what would effectively be a smartphone. The main limitation would be balancing the added features with the need to get a full day’s life out of what is inevitably a small battery.

Although the glasses won’t be on public sale until next year, potential developers who are prepared to stump up $1,500 will get a pair in the next few months. That could be as early as a couple of weeks from now when Google holds Google Glass hackathons in New York and San Francisco.