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UW alumnus co-creates Google Glass

UW Electrical Engineering alumnus Babak Parviz, co-creator of Google Glass, is aiming for Glass to be the next platform of communication, expediting the way people share things visually.

Photo by Jennifer Cheng

UW alumnus Babak Parviz and his team look like something out of the future when they wear their new creation. The sleek glasses have a camera and screen situated over the right eye and are the most recent version of Google Glass.

According to Parviz, a UW electrical engineering alumnus and co-creator of Google Glass, these devices are the future of communication.

“Devices are becoming smaller,” Parviz said at a talk in an overcrowded electrical engineering lecture hall. “They’re becoming more mobile … they’re becoming faster to use and to access. But what is next? What will actually make the world a better place?”

The Google Glass glasses have a display and a camera, as well as audio input and output. They feature a touch pad on the side and multiple sensors. The product can connect to the Internet via Wi-Fi radio and Bluetooth.

“The power of this platform very much so depends on its connectivity to other stuff,” Parviz said.

The device also has a memory and processor so it can function as a stand-alone computer without a Wi-Fi connection.

While head-mounted displays are not a new idea, Google Glass has made the concept of a hands-free display a reality. Google patented the design and began product testing in April 2012.

“It’s so exciting. … Now we can do anything we want using the glasses. … We don’t need to hold our phone anymore,” said Pingyang He, a graduate student in the computer science department.

Senior Corneliu Moiceanu is an avid paraglider and said that the navigation and video technology the device provides would help advance his sport.

“I would like to have all of the things I need in real time,” Moiceanu said. “It’s something that I know everyone in the sport tries to do. [The device] is exactly what you want.”

Parviz said the first prototype, eyeglasses with cords tucked into a backpack and laden with two laptops and other technology, is a far cry from the single-banded glasses the project has become.

He said there is a history of evolution in computing and communication technology. In the continuum of communication techniques, which currently begins with speech and ends with smartphones, Parviz believes Google Glass is the next innovation.

“What we wanted to do is have a hardware platform designed for visual communication,” Parviz said. “Right now, this device can see the world through my eyes and share that view with someone else.”

Google Glass is rumored to release publicly in 2014. Parviz said there are still hardware and software issues that need to be fixed. The current version of the product drains battery power quickly, but the team is continually working on ways to improve the device.

“If this trend is successful it will change the world, and hopefully it will change the world for the better,” Parviz said. “Hopefully it will make people a lot more knowledgeable and will connect people in newer and deeper ways.”

Reach reporter Amy Busch at news@dailyuw.com. Twitter: @AmyBusch2

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