Apple 2.0

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Does Apple have anything that can match Google Glass?

July 1, 2012: 9:08 AM ET

With a death-defying demo, Google claims the high ground in wearable computing

FORTUNE -- In a post for ProCamera.com, Dan Butterfield has assembled pretty much everything you need to know about the state of play in wearable computer glasses, including the 11-minute video of the real-time demonstration that Google's (GOOG) Sergey Brin orchestrated at the company's annual developers conference last week. If you haven't seen it yet, you're in for a treat.

Is this the future of computing? And if so, Butterfield asks, can anyone give Google a run for the money?

Although he notes that several start-ups are already selling wearable glassware or clip-on cams -- among them MicrovisionMOD LiveLooxcieContourVizux, and GoPro -- Butterfield ends by asking Siri whether Apple (AAPL) will try to "kick some Google Glass":

I 'betcha' the answer is "Yes!" In fact, several years ago, Apple filed patents for their own wearable computer glasses. Apple later hired wearable computer expert Richard DeVaul. While at MIT, DeVaul helped to develop 'Memory Glasses.' DeVaul jumped ship in 2012 and is now a Rapid Evaluator working on Google's Project X. Does Apple's wearable project still live? Siri?

Whatever the name of the Apple's eventual eye-ware device (iShades? eye-Sight?), Apple can quickly be a formidable competitor [emphasis his]. One reason why Apple can slide into this space is the fact that software + hardware + design + AppStore are critical for success. No one is better than Apple at building platforms and the seamless integration of elegant hardware and software. Apple's ongoing development of artificial intelligence (AI) on iOS (aka Siri), is also a huge advantage. Apple has some catch up work to do in Maps, but they are on that project in a big way.

And here's another notion… Apple may have already launched the wearable computer needed to power the glass screen. Huh? Well, it's called the iPhone. Apple has proven that they can easily modify iOS software. Why not iOS integration with a wireless (or tethered) external miniaturized Apple iSight? This 'mini' clip-on iSight could function as a combination camera + tiny projector. This camera/projector might capture photos/videos and project images on to wearable glass lenses. Only time will tell if Apple will opt to join the party, but odds are they will.

You can read the rest of Butterfield's post here.

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Philip Elmer-Dewitt
Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Editor, Apple 2.0, Fortune

Philip Elmer-DeWitt has been following Apple since 1982, first for Time Magazine, and now on the Web for Fortune.com.

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