Google gave us a glimpse of the future on Wednesday with the unveiling of “Project Glass,” the tech giant’s long-rumored foray into augmented reality. The interactive glasses, which are now being tested in public, have the ability to superimpose virtual data onto real-world environments. An early concept video reveals how deeply integrated Google’s other services—such as Google Maps, Google+, and Google Talk—will be. (Snap a picture with the built-in camera, for instance, and you can share it with your Circles instantly.) Whether you see the glasses as bane or boon depends on where you stand on privacy. Until you turn them off, you can give up any illusion of solitude—you’re plugged into the hive mind all day, all the time.

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Although Project Glass is still very much in the development stage, staff members are taking prototypes out in the street to conduct real-world testing. “We think technology should work for you—to be there when you need it and get out of your way when you don’t,” wrote Google researchers on the project page. “A group of us started Project Glass to build this kind of technology, one that helps you explore and share your world, putting you back in the moment.”

Staff members are taking prototypes out in the street to conduct real-world testing.

The video provides a first-person perspective of Project Glass’s potential. A man uses voice commands to navigate the streets of New York City, communicate with friends, check into locations, and shoot and upload photos. As the sun sets over a Manhattan rooftop, he uses video chat to serenade his girlfriend with a ukulele.

Someone familiar with the glasses told the New York Times that they “let technology get out of your way.” He added: “If I want to take a picture I don’t have to reach into my pocket and take out my phone; I just press a button at the top of the glasses and that’s it.”

Could Project Glass eventually become Project Contact Lens? Babak Parviz, one of the designers, is also responsible for a Terminator-style contact lens. What’s next, neural implants?

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