Google is planning to test augmented reality (AR) prototypes in public beginning next month, the company announced Tuesday. Google has been exploring concepts like AR glasses that show translations in real time, but the company wants to take its ideas from the lab into the real world. The Verge previously reported that Google hopes to ship its “Project Iris” AR headset in 2024.
“This will allow us to better understand how these devices can help people in their everyday lives,” Google’s Juston Payne wrote in a blog post. “And as we develop experiences like AR navigation, it will help us take factors such as weather and busy intersections into account — which can be difficult, sometimes impossible, to fully recreate indoors.”
According to a Google support page, the company will be testing a “small number” of prototypes within select areas of the US with “strict limitations on where testers can operate, and the kinds of activities they can engage in.” Testers will have to go through “device, protocol, privacy, and safety training.”
And the company is warning that it will have prototypes that look like normal glasses, though they’ll have an in-lens display and “visual and audio sensors” like a microphone and camera onboard. An LED indicator tells people in the vicinity if image data is being saved for “analysis and debugging,” which they can request to have deleted.
Google is planning to explore use cases like speech transcription and translation, as well as visual sensing scenarios like translating text or helping with navigation. The company claims that its prototypes don’t support photography or videography, though any image data captured during its tests will be deleted unless the data is used for further analysis or debugging. “In that case, the image data is first scrubbed for sensitive content, including faces and license plates,” the company writes. “Then it is stored on a secure server, with limited access by a small number of Googlers for analysis and debugging. After 30 days, it is deleted.”
Google lists “translation, transcription and navigation” as the features in testing and previewed glasses at Google I/O earlier this year that can show language translated right in front of your eyes. But in announcing these tests well ahead of when they’ll actually take place in the real world and describing what they will involve, Google seems to be attempting to avoid a repeat of the “Glasshole” debacle that plagued the company’s infamous Google Glass headset.