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Google Glasses


Updated March 20, 2012

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Google, the Internet giant, is developing a pair of eyeglasses that can comfortably project a virtual image display to the wearer. These hi-tech eyeglasses may be able to show images that are streamed from your smartphone. You may be able to see your emails, texts and stock-market reports right in front of you. You may even be able to update your Facebook status while walking down the street.

Only the wearer will be able to see the data on the eyeglass lenses. There is not a lot of public information available about these lasses yet, but we do know that the company is developing the product at Google X offices, a secretive laboratory near their main campus in California.


The glasses may be available at the end of 2012 and are, at this point, more of an experiment than a huge revenue stream. The company wants to evaluate public opinion first before developing the glasses into a more serious business model.


Google's eyeglasses will be priced similarly to smartphones and tablets, somewhere between $250 to $600. The glasses reportedly look like the well-known Oakley Thumps sunglasses.

How Google Glasses Work

The eyeglasses use the Android software platform that you can find on Android smartphones and tablets. These high-tech goggles have built-in GPS, motion sensors and a camera. The camera collects data used by Google to relay the user information. For example, if you are looking at a significant landmark, Google might send you information about the sight and its significance in history.

The glasses also contain a navigation system that uses head movements to scroll and click. Certain head movements or head tilts may mimic mouse clicks to navigate the software. The system is believed to be very easy to learn. Once a user masters the device, apparently no one will notice the small head movements.

Possible Problems

There are some health concerns about wearing any device very close to your body that relies on anything stronger than Bluetooth to transmit data. Of course, there is liability too. Wearing them while driving might prove more harmful than texting.

Privacy Concerns

The camera inside Google glasses has raised some privacy concerns. Most likely the camera will just collect data to improve the wearer's navigational information. Some people are concerned that a built-in camera can record them without their knowledge. (Suggestion: Maybe a small LED light could appear to show when the camera is operating.)

Observers speculate that the camera will be used more for obtaining data than for filming people. According to Google, the camera will be able to provide information about your location, surrounding buildings and when certain friends are nearby.

One possible use: Perhaps the video display could alert you when a gas station or McDonald's is close by."


  • Bilton, Nick. Behind the Google Goggles, Virtual Reality, NYTimes.com, 22 Feb 2012.
  • Claburn, Thomas. 7 Potential Problems with Google’s Glasses, Information Week, The business value of technology, 22 Feb 2012.

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