A Japanese mobile phone company unveiled prototype computerized glasses at this week’s Ceatec exhibition allowing users to turn any flat surface into a touch screen, adding a tactile element to the concept Google introduced earlier this year.
To the uninitiated, anyone wearing NTT DoCoMo’s invention might look like a simple madman, pointing and dragging a finger across a blank notebook. But the wearer sees a different kind of crazy — a full interactive display projected onto an ordinary notebook, with capabilities akin to any touchscreen tablet. The glasses also adjust the display based on chosen surface size, so a sheet of printer paper shows icons and menu items in a spacious grid formation, while a pad of sticky notes shows icons one-by-one. A small sensor worn as a ring on the pointer finger tracks the user’s movement.
A second version of the technology layers additional information over the wearer’s surroundings. Using facial recognition to identify other people, the glasses can display an individual’s name and job title to help out forgetful users. They could also act as a personal translator. For an English-speaker in a Japanese restaurant, the glasses can project an English menu over the real thing, or translate a Japanese street sign. Some say this technology could change the tourism game in time for Tokyo’s turn to host the Olympics in 2020.
As a third iteration of its invention, DoCoMo created a pair which allow the wearer to manipulate virtual objects in front of them. A small camera mounted on the glasses’ frame track movement as the wearer bounces virtual toys up and down.
NTT DoCoMo has no set commercial plans for the glasses. However, a wait could be for the best when The Telegraph reports one in five British people want Google Glass banned in their country, indicating that consumers may need further convincing of the technology’s benefit — pure novelty aside.