On Wednesday in the United States, Google previewed augmented reality glasses that display real-time translations of conversations, and outlined additional plans to connect the real world with its digital universe of search, maps, and apps. other services using artificial intelligence.
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 comparable to rival Apple Inc that could offer rich rewards through Google advertising sales.
At its annual Google I/O developer conference, the company showed a video of its prototype glasses displaying translations for conversations involving English, Mandarin, Spanish and American Sign Language.
Eddie Chung, chief product officer at Google, called them “subtitles for the world”.
“What we’re working on is technology that allows us to break down language barriers, taking years of research in Google Translate and bringing that to the glasses,” he said.
Google previously demonstrated a feature that would eventually allow users to take videos of wine bottle shelves in a store and have the search app automatically identify options for black-owned wineries.
“It’s like having a supercharged Ctrl+F for the world around you,” said Prabhakar Raghavan, Google’s senior vice president, referring to the keyboard shortcut for finding something in a document. “You can search your whole world, ask questions anyway and anywhere.”
Likewise, later this year, users will be able to take a photo of a product and locate nearby stores where it’s available, Raghavan said.
Later this year, Maps will launch an immersive view for select major cities that merges Street View and aerial imagery “to create a rich digital model of the world,” Google said.
In other announcements, a relaunched Google Wallet app will support virtual storage of driver’s licenses in parts of the United States later this year, mirroring a feature Apple launched for Arizona on its iPhones in March.
Alphabet shares rose about 0.5% after the conference, which was again held virtually due to COVID-19 concerns.
The tablet overturns Google’s decision three years ago to abandon manufacturing of its own following poor sales, while the round-faced Pixel smartwatch could undermine Google’s Fitbit devices.
Google gets most of its revenue from ads, a business that has boomed for years as the pandemic and smartphones cause people to spend more time online.
But devices might matter more to Google in the long run. Ads displayed on its own devices offer a higher profit margin because sales do not have to be shared with hardware partners such as Apple who help distribute Google services on their gadgets.
The tablet, which will have a high price and be wider, is following user interest, Rick Osterloh, Google’s senior vice president for devices and services, told reporters, noting that it was unusual to tease a product. a year in advance.
“Users think of an ecosystem,” Osterloh said. “We’re newer to this space and wanted to give people a better idea of where we’re headed.”
Google’s previous business in tablets led to less than 500,000 units sold, according to market researcher IDC.
Osterloh said the Pixel Watch, which won’t be compatible with Apple iPhones, will appeal to users different from Fitbit, which is associated with health and fitness. Google acquired Fitbit in January 2021 for $2.1 billion.
Google also said its Pixel 6a smartphone, which packs less robust cameras, memory and display than its more expensive Pixel 6, will go on sale July 21 starting at US$449 (AU$749).
Google’s smartphones continue to account for less than 1% of the global market, IDC analysts said, and the more affordable “A” series accounts for about half of its shipments.
Osterloh also said Google will soon open its second retail store, in New York’s Brooklyn borough, after a larger one in Manhattan that debuted last year.