The next version of its Google Glass wearable might be built without a display, setting it apart from the original Glass eyewear-mounted devices that provided users with a small display where they could view texts, content and more, inside their frame of view.
Two possible display-less versions of the next generation of Google Glass, now called Project Aura, would rely on audio, while another version for enterprises would still include a display, according to a Nov. 17 report in Digital Trends.
The audio versions would be aimed at sport users and employ bone conduction, like the previous version of Google Glass, the article reported.
In September, reports said that Google had revamped and renamed its Glass program Project Aura to focus on developing smart eyeglasses and other related wearable technology, according to an earlier eWEEK story. Project Aura appears to have been launched in June, about six months after Google announced its decision to drop production of Glass. At that time, the company had suggested that the hiatus would be temporary while it worked on new and better versions of its smart glass technology. Google also announced, at the time, that it was pulling Google Glass from its semi-secret Project X division and making it a stand-alone unit inside the company.
Project Aura remains part of Google and was not spun out as an independent business under the recently launched Alphabet holding company. Former Nest Chief Executive Tony Fadell has broad oversight over the project, while Ivy Ross, a fashion industry executive that Google hired in 2014, heads Project Aura.
Google Glass has been a topic of conversation among techies since the original version (pictured) was first shown off at the June 2012 Google I/O developers conference. The original Google Glass was a futuristic eyewear-mounted computer that provided its wearer with heads-up information, notifications, photo and video capabilities and much more.
The first beta Google Glass units began shipping in April 2013 to developers who signed up to buy a set at the Google I/O event for $1,500 for testing and development. Google eventually shipped beta Glass units to any users who wanted to buy the devices for $1,500 through a Google Glass Explorer program that aimed to gather more input and experience with such devices from a larger pool of beta users.
Google said in January that it was not killing off the project, but wanted to take more time to work on the concept and perhaps bring it back in another form after what amounts to an indefinite hiatus.
Each Google Glass device of the first generation included adjustable nose pads and a high-resolution display that Google said is the equivalent of a 25-inch high-definition screen from 8 feet away. The glasses also featured a built-in camera that takes 5-megapixel photos and video at 720p. Audio was delivered to wearers through their bones, using bone-conduction transducers.
Earlier in July, a Google filing with the Federal Communications Commission provided clues that the company has been working on a next-generation version of the devices.
There have been several very public controversies involving Google Glass, as well. In January 2014, a network administrator from Columbus, Ohio, was removed from a movie theater and questioned by federal authorities over concerns that he was using the Google Glass on his head to film a bootleg copy of the movie being shown in the theater, eWEEK reported at the time. Eventually, the man was freed when he was able to prove that he had not used Glass to capture the film illegally. While he was detained, he was subjected to detailed questioning about his activities in the theater and about his use of Google Glass.
That incident followed the case of a California driver who was stopped and cited for speeding in October 2013 when she drove and was wearing a Glass device. The driver, Cecelia Abadie of Temecula, Calif., was cited in October 2013 as she drove home from San Diego, but her case was dismissed in January 2014, when during her trial, a judge ruled that the arresting officer had not observed her actually using the head-mounted computer.
Concerns about Google Glass and the law had surfaced even before both of these cases. Google Glass occasionally made headlines across the United States when bars, restaurants and other public facilities posted signs banning the use of the wearable technology on their premises due to privacy and other issues.
At the same time, many organizations—including hospitals, airlines, manufacturing companies and even schools—experimented with Google Glass devices.
In April 2014, Google began a "Glass at Work" program to encourage businesses to learn more about how Glass might be integrated in useful ways for their employees and business processes. The Glass at Work program sought developers to get involved with the effort to build more applications that could help businesses use Glass in their operations.