Search giant Google is about to take a quantum leap into next generation mobile computing with the forthcoming introduction of virtual reality glasses, according to people familiar with the project who spoke to The New York Times this week.
The glasses are expected to cost between $250 and $600, the Times noted, but Google isn't talking about the project yet.
That's because the Google glasses have been in development at the company's secretive Google X lab, where other cutting-edge projects like robotics and artificial intelligence research are underway.
The glasses, which are said to look like a pair of Oakleys enhanced with an MP3 player, will come equipped with motion sensors, GPS, cameras, voice detection software and the Android operating system, which will enable Google to stream graphical enhancements over the real world, and see what their users see, all in real time.
Word of the glasses in development was first broken by a blogger at 9 to 5 Google, who said that the heads-up display will only work in one eye, and users will navigate the on-board menus with small head movements. The new navigation tech is said to be highly intuitive, and a similar system was shown off by Motorola earlier this year.
People who've actually seen the glasses told the Times that they will create a new layer for the Internet, where companies can stream digital advertising possibly even layered over competitors' real world ads.
The Times also speculated how facial recognition may play a role in the glasses' core functions, matching peoples' faces with social network profiles for instant connections between new acquaintances.
However, in the wake of controversy over Google bypassing key security features built into web browsers designed by rivals Apple and Microsoft, the introduction of full augmented reality to consumers will likely open up an whole new realm of privacy concerns.
It could also pose new challenges to federal regulators, who are only just now getting around to proposing privacy standards for web browsers.