Google showed off a set of eyeglasses that translate and transcribe in real time during their 2022 developer’s conference. The augmented reality display works with Google Translate. The Google AR glasses and their translation capabilities could revolutionize how people communicate when they don’t share a common language. The company didn’t announce a price point or how soon the technology goes on sale in the video below. But it’s a promising step in connecting the world.
We saw the news on The Verge. Already ubiquitous with online translation, Google is now set up to compete with other companies working on similar AR technology. The wearer doesn’t have to know the language spoken, a translation shows up on the display.
A simple transcription is also possible when translation isn’t needed. This serves as captions for people who are Deaf or have hearing impairments. It reduces reliance on lip-reading or for others to use sign language.
The video was shared as part of Google I/O, the company’s yearly developer’s conference. Announcements of shiny new projects are often part of the event. Inspirational videos and simulations aside, it’s not clear when this product will be ready for the mass market. But there is a definite need for it. Google will soon begin to test its smart glasses AR offering in public, per a blog post made in July 2022.
Augmented reality has incredible potential to enhance our lives. Applying Google Translate in real-time conversations is just one application. Snap Spectacles allow users to overlay filters and props and upload to Snapchat. Famed naturalist David Attenborough narrates an app that transforms your surroundings into those of extinct creatures.
Other companies are also working on their versions of AR glasses with translation features. Xiaomi recently debuted its version of the live-translating smart glasses. The “Mijia Glasses Camera,” which we first saw on DesignTAXI, translates text from English and Chinese and back in real-time, in addition to other features. Currently, the glasses are available for purchase for around $370 through a crowdfunding initiative, later they will cost around $400. Contact lenses offering translations are also in development by multiple companies already.
There’s also plenty of science fiction comparisons. These Google and Xiaomi AR glasses give strong Star Wars language vibes. Nearly everyone can communicate with everyone else, even if they can’t speak other languages. Here’s hoping Google and others can make this idea fully a reality soon enough.
Melissa is Nerdist’s science & technology staff writer. She also moderates “science of” panels at conventions and co-hosts Star Warsologies, a podcast about science and Star Wars. Follow her on Twitter @melissatruth.