Google’s head of devices says “environmental processing” is the future goal

Google is focusing its vision for the future on what it calls “environmental computing,” according to Rick Osterloh, head of hardware at Google.

“Computers should be able to help you with everything you need smoothly and be around you,” Osterloh said in an interview with Bloomberg Television on Wednesday.

Earlier that day, at its annual I / O conference, Alphabet Inc’s Google unveiled a number of upcoming product and device updates, including a new Pixel-branded tablet and smartwatch.

At the end of the event, Google anticipated a bolder gadget: a pair of glasses using its Google Translate service. In a demo video, an elderly mother who speaks Mandarin was able to understand her daughter’s English.

Google’s first attempt at internet-connected glasses – Google Glass – was a famous flop that left the search giant more cautious about the futuristic field. In the decade following that device’s launch, Google carried out skunkworks projects on similar augmented reality technology, but kept most of its hardware lineup on more conventional smartphones, laptops, and home speakers similar to rivals like Apple Inc.

“We learned so much from the introduction with Glass,” Osterloh said on Bloomberg TV. “We have clearly learned how difficult it is to develop this type of technology and we have learned a lot about what users care about and what is important.”

Osterloh did not share plans on when the AR glasses would be available to consumers, only saying that Google had “a number of engineers and developers continuing to build” the product for internal use. “It’s a bit far, but we’re continuing to invest in AR space,” she said.

But such a product plays a key role in Google’s vision of ambient computing, Osterloh said. “You could see how wonderful it would be to have something on your face, which allows you to communicate in real time, to do translations so that you can experience captions in the world around you,” she said.

Smaller competitors Meta Platforms Inc and Snap Inc have released sleeker versions of AR glasses, and Apple is also working on the technology. Google also invested in Magic Leap, a startup that raised dozens of cash to make an immersive reality headset, but ended up moving towards corporate sales after failing to gain traction.

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