Google's Project Glass

Galym Imanbayev
June 11, 2012

Submitted as coursework for PH250, Stanford University, Spring 2012

Project Glass

On April 4th, Google unveiled a new initiative called Project Glass. Unlike what certain media sources claim, Project Glass is not the name of a particular product, but is instead a program dedicated to developing a wearable device that resembles glasses but one which would achieve all of the functions of a smart-phone. In essence, Project Glass aims to revolutionize personal telecommunication by providing a fundamentally different platform to communicate with others and the surrounding environment.

It is important to recognize that Project Glass is very early in its testing. At this point, the designers have not decided on whether the final design would be a stand-alone product or if it would be connected to and work off a separate smart-phone. [1] The point of unveiling the program so early, is to gain feedback early in the process. The lead engineers Babak Parviz, Steve Lee, and Sebastian Thrun wrote in a post on Google Plus, "We're sharing this information now because we want to start a conversation and learn from your valuable input." At this point, however, the glasses appear to feature a see-through display above one eye which could potentially show directions, maps, and other information asked by the user. According to the concept video launched by Google, the glasses would be equipped with a voice-recognition system similar to Apple's Siri.

With the public presentation of Project Glass, Google may be at the leading edge of a growing area known as wearable computing. Other rival companies, however, have been on the trail of this up and coming field as well. In April 2008, Apple had submitted a patent for a similar product. [2]

Google X and the Project Glass Team

Google's main competitive advantage in the field of wearable computing could very well be its Google X Lab and the talented team of engineers that leads Project Glass. Project Glass is a product of Google X, a secretive lab where Google attempts to tackle projects that not only seem but may literally be out of this world. One of the projects, for example, is to create an elevator into outer space. More Earthly examples include redesigning refrigerators to be connected to the internet to order groceries as soon as they run out, and even designing a dinner plate that could recognize the food and post it onto a social networking site. Google X can be compared to Xerox PARC, another clandestine research lab. While Google X provides the proper environment to test innovative ideas, it is a successful engineering team that can put the ideas into practice. [3]

Project Glass's leading engineers are Babak Parviz, Steve Lee, and Sebastian Thrun. Parviz is an electrical engineer by training and is a professor at the University of Washington. His past work includes incorporating circuits into contact lenses for diagnostic health care use. Lee led Google's mobile maps and location services group and is currently a product manager in the company. He is an investor in other location data companies including Highlight and Thrun was a professor at Stanford University and led the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, in addition to being behind Google's self-driving car project. He is one of the leaders of Udacity, an online university whose mission is to provide everyone in the world a quality college education. [4]

© Galym Imanbayev. The author grants permission to copy, distribute and display this work in unaltered form, with attribution to the author, for noncommercial purposes only. All other rights, including commercial rights, are reserved to the author.


[1] D. Goldman, "Google Unveils 'Project Glass' Smart Glasses," CNNMoney, 04 April 12.

[2] N. Bilton, "A Rose-Colored View May Come Standard," New York Times, 5 April 12.

[3] C. C. Miller and N. Bilton, "Google's Lab of Wildest Dreams," New York Times, 13 Nov 11.

[4] H. Tsukayama, "Google's Project Glass Engineers: Who Are They?," Washington Post, 5 April 12.