Google’s second attempt with computer glasses translates conversations in real time

May 11 (Reuters) – The science fiction is harder to see in Google’s second attempt at glasses with a built-in computer.

A decade after the debut of Google Glass, a nubby, sci-fi-looking pair of specs that filmed what wearers saw but expressed privacy concerns and received low marks for design, the Alphabet Inc. (GOOGL.O) unit on Wednesday previewed an as-yet-unnamed standard pair of glasses that rendered translations of conversations in real time and showed no hint of a camera.

The new augmented reality glasses were just one of many longer-term products Google unveiled at its annual Google I/O developer conference aimed at bridging the real world and the digital universe of search, maps and other services. of the company using the latest advancements in artificial intelligence.

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“What we’re working on is technology that will help us break through language barriers through years of research in Google Translate and bring it to fruition,” said Eddie Chung, director of product management at Google, calling the opportunity “subtitles for the world.” .”

By selling more hardware, Google could increase profits by keeping users in its network of technology, where it doesn’t have to split ad sales with device makers like Apple Inc. (AAPL.O)and Samsung Electronics CO (005930.KS)who help spread its services.

Google also teased a tablet that will launch in 2023 and a smartwatch that will go on sale at the end of this year as it unveils a strategy to offer a group of products similar to Apple.

But Google’s hardware business remains small, with a global market share in smartphones, for example, below 1%, according to researcher IDC. Recently launched challengers seeking, along with ongoing antitrust investigations around the world, into Google’s dominance in mobile software and other areas threaten to limit the company’s ability to gain steam in new ventures.

Shares of Alphabet fell 0.7% on Wednesday.

The unveiling of the new goggles reflects the company’s growing caution amid increased scrutiny over Big Tech. When Google Glass was demonstrated at I/O in 2012, skydivers used it to live-stream a jump to a San Francisco building, with the company given special airspace for the stunt.

This time, Google only showed a video of its prototype, with translations for conversations in English, Mandarin, Spanish and American Sign Language.

It did not specify a release date or immediately confirm that the device did not have a camera.

Aside from the gadget, Google previously demonstrated a feature that would eventually allow users to create videos of wine bottle store shelves and ask the search app to perform functions such as automatically identifying options from Black-owned wineries.

Likewise, later this year, users will be able to snap a photo of a product and find nearby stores where it’s available.

Later this year, Maps will also launch an immersive view for some major cities that will combine Street View and aerial photography “to create a rich, digital model of the world,” according to Google.

NEW HARDWARE

The tablet reverses Google’s decision three years ago to give up making its own tablet after poor sales. According to IDC, it shipped only 500,000 of those units.

The new tablet follows increased interest from users and was announced early to inform buyers considering alternatives, Rick Osterloh, Google’s senior vice president of devices and services, told reporters.

He added that the Pixel Watch, which won’t be compatible with Apple’s iPhones, will attract users other than devices from Google’s Fitbit, which is associated with health and fitness and was bought for $2.1 billion last year.

Among other announcements, a relaunched Google Wallet app will store virtual driver’s licenses in some parts of the United States later this year, mirroring a feature Apple debuted for Arizona in March on its iPhones.

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Reporting by Paresh Dave in Oakland, California and Yuvraj Malik in Bengaluru. Editing by Paul Simao, Matthew Lewis, Nick Zieminski and Bernard Orr

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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