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Monday, July 27, 2020

Google Pushing Advanced Wearables

Good to see Google pushing this research. Still consider the use of this kind of focused wearable to have narrow uses, until people decide it to be part of their normal clothing.

Google is quietly experimenting with holographic glasses and smart tattoos
The search giant has been working on or funding a new generation of wearable technology.
Richard Nieva in CNET

A simple pair of sunglasses that projects holographic icons. A smartwatch that has a digital screen but analog hands. A temporary tattoo that, when applied to your skin, transforms your body into a living touchpad. A virtual reality controller that lets you pick up objects in digital worlds and feel their weight as you swing them around. Those are some of the projects Google has quietly been developing or funding, according to white papers and demo videos, in an effort to create the next generation of wearable technology devices.

The eyewear and smartwatch projects come from the search giant's Interaction Lab, an initiative aimed at intertwining digital and physical experiences. It's part of Google Research, an arm of the search giant with roots in academia that focuses on technical breakthroughs. The Interaction Lab was created within Google's hardware division in 2015, before it was spun out to join the company's research arm about two years ago, according to the resume of Alex Olwal, the lab's leader. Olwal, a senior Google researcher, previously worked at X, the company's self-described moonshot factory, and ATAP, Google's experimental hardware branch. 

The goal of the Interaction Lab is to expand Google's "capabilities for rapid hardware prototyping of wearable concepts and interface technology," Olwal writes. Its initiatives appear to be more science experiment than product roadmap, with the likely goal of proving ideas rather than competing with the Apple Watch or Snapchat Spectacles. But taken together, they provide a glimpse at Google's ambitions for wearable tech.

The other projects were collaborations with researchers from universities around the world. At least two of them -- the VR controller and smart tattoos -- were partly funded through Google Faculty Research Awards, which support academic work related to computer science and engineering. The efforts highlight Google's close ties with the academic community, a bridge to the company's beginnings as a Stanford University grad school project by co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin that grew into a global behemoth with deep hooks into our lives. .... "

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