Reaching for your smartphone to gather bits of intelligence could soon be a thing of the past, according to the New York Times, which reveals that Google is developing a pair of eyeglasses that streams information onto the lenses in real time. The so-called “Google Goggles,” which sources say resemble Oakley “Thumps,” will be the technology behemoth’s foray into the realm of augmented reality, the ability to superimpose virtual data onto real-world environments. Interactive headsets that mimic ordinary eyewear have been attempted before, most recently by Vusix, but Google’s version will have the advantage of its mapping software, Google+ social network, and built-in Android technology, not to mention its vast search-engine database of product reviews, customer recommendations, and tagged images.

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Although a Google spokesman declined to comment, the company is much further along than people might expect, say insiders. People familiar with the device describe a small screen that will sit a few inches from the wearer’s eye, a 3G or 4G data connection, a camera, and a series of sensors that include motion and GPS.

Anticipated to go on sale before 2012 ends, the glasses will cost between $250 and $600.

They will also have a unique navigation system that uses head tilting to scroll and click,” according to Seth Weintraub, a blogger for 9 to 5 Google. “We are told it is very quick to learn and once the user is adept at navigation, it becomes second nature and almost indistinguishable to outside users,” he wrote this month.

An unending barrage of targeted ads aside, Google’s Goggles also bring up a morass of privacy issues, says Nick Bilton, who writes for the Times. “When someone is meeting a person for the first time, for example, Google could hypothetically match the person’s face and tell people how many friends they share in common on social networks,” he says.

Whether you see them as boon or bane, brace yourself: The glasses, which will cost “around the price of current smartphones” or between $250 and $600, are anticipated to go on sale before 2012 runs out.