Google begins testing new AR smart glasses — now with less Glassholes

An image showing Google's latest AR prototype
(Image credit: Google)

Google has reportedly been working on new AR glasses for some time, but now we have confirmation that new hardware is getting closer.

In a recent blog post, Google announced that it will begin testing a new AR smart glasses prototype in public beginning in August. Google has apparently been lab testing the AR prototype for a bit, but has now determined that they have reached the point where real-world data is needed to proceed with their latest AR project. 

Google Glass 2.0: What happened the first time Google tried AR 

This is — famously (or rather, infamously) — not the first time that Google has attempted to make an AR headset. The original Google Glass was launched in 2013 and was one of the earlier smart glasses to come to market. Unfortunately, that may have crippled the smart glasses industry for years.  

“Glassholes," as Google Glass’s first public ambassadors were often called in news stories at the time, were notorious for breaking social norms and violating the privacy of bystanders. This was largely due to Google’s inclusion of an integrated camera, and Glassholes not realizing that they shouldn’t use that camera to constantly record unwitting strangers.

The smart glasses industry seems to have learned from Google’s mistakes. Intel’s new Vaunt smart glasses are leaving the camera on the cutting room floor and are instead using lasers to provide an AR heads-up display for users. Google’s new prototype is also abandoning photography and videography, signaling a potential shift in the industry after the failure of the first Google Glass. 

Google Glass 2.0: Potential features 

While Google’s new AR prototype will include an integrated camera, Google says that photography and videography functions will not be supported. Who knows if this will hold true if the product ever launches, but for now Google seems focused on learning from its mistakes and preventing a further generation of Glassholes.

Instead, the aim of this iteration of the AR headset will be focused on features like real-time translation. An example Google provided was the ability to look at a menu and then have it translated onto the in-lens displays. These lenses may also be designed by Raxium, a Micro LED firm that Google acquired earlier this year

Google Glass is back at IO 2022

(Image credit: Google)

Another key feature will be AR navigation. Google says that it will take factors such as weather and traffic into account to allow users to find directions to their favorite places. This at least seems to be a feature brought over from the original Google Glass project.

Google claims to be taking things slow, so if you really cannot wait for Google Glass 2.0, you can check out Google Glass Enterprise Edition. However, this version of Google Glass is primarily focused on business applications, and requires you to contact Google directly to purchase a pair. Most users will likely want to wait and see what Google produces down the road or keep an eye on the latest Apple Glasses rumors instead.

Malcolm McMillan
Senior Streaming Writer

Malcolm McMillan is a senior writer for Tom's Guide, covering all the latest in streaming TV shows and movies. That means news, analysis, recommendations, reviews and more for just about anything you can watch, including sports! If it can be seen on a screen, he can write about it. Previously, Malcolm had been a staff writer for Tom's Guide for over a year, with a focus on artificial intelligence (AI), A/V tech and VR headsets.

Before writing for Tom's Guide, Malcolm worked as a fantasy football analyst writing for several sites and also had a brief stint working for Microsoft selling laptops, Xbox products and even the ill-fated Windows phone. He is passionate about video games and sports, though both cause him to yell at the TV frequently. He proudly sports many tattoos, including an Arsenal tattoo, in honor of the team that causes him to yell at the TV the most.