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Coming soon: Google-powered 'Terminator' glasses?

A tech blogger sparks a frenzy by reporting that Google may test a prototype of some cyborg-friendly futuristic shades as early as this spring

Imagine walking down the street, saying an address, tilting your head a bit, and then having directions pop up on the inside of your sunglass lens. You might have this power in the relatively near future, if rumors about a new Google sunglasses experiment prove true. These "Terminator" shades would reportedly allow users to tap into the search giant's deep pool of information, including navigation apps like Street View and GPS. Here's what you should know:

What do these futuristic sunglasses look like?According to a tipster, says Seth Weintraub at 9to5 Google, the prototype "looks something like Oakley Thumps" — slightly bulky black sunglasses with a few buttons on the temple bars. It sounds like they're inspired by the shades worn by Arnold in the original 1984 James Cameron Terminator, says Matt Peckham at PC World.

What sort of features would these shades have?Based on the 9to5 Google report, this would appear to be an Android-powered device with "an integrated transparent display for one eye and a built-in front-facing camera," says Ryan Paul at Ars Technica. The camera could be used for augmented reality applications, perhaps using Google Street View. The sunglasses would also have a built-in mic, speakers, and internet connectivity — essentially functioning as a wearable smartphone.

Hold on — how would this even work?This is where things get "really cool," says Weintraub. You can use your voice to browse menus, and "head tilting to scroll and click." We've heard that "once the user is adept at navigation, it becomes second nature and almost indistinguishable to outside users." Just like "flying cars and jet packs, wearable computing is one of those aspirational fields of technology," says Paul. I really hope this works out.

When would it be available?Don't hold your breath — the reports are still "highly speculative," says Paul. And Google hasn't responded to this rumor at all. Of course, says Weintraub, "the product is still a very long way from being finished." Still, we hear that Google might release some of its super-secret shade prototypes to selected people this spring, as part of a "beta-pilot program."

Sources: 9to5 Google, Ars Technica, PC World

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