While the US press goes on about how clever Google is for inventing its Glass project it appears to be forgetting that the British came up with the idea more than a decade ago but could not be bothered with it.
Vaccum cleaner maker Dyson, which is celebrating its 21st birthday, has revealed that it had an augmented reality headset with a voice-controlled digital assistant.
Dubbed the Dyson Halo, an augmented reality headset was codenamed N066 and was a portable, head-mounted, wearable computer, that could be carried in the user’s pocket, but which worked as a communications device and PC,” the company said. “It had a headset that could be worn on your head like a pair of glasses and used audio prompts and visual cues to overlay information on your surroundings.”
OK it was not as sexy looking as Google Glass because some of the technology was not there at the time. It had a headset wrapping around the back of the head and connecting via a cable to a small computer in your pocket.
Dyson’s designs suggest it would have a 1GHz chip and 256MB memory, alongside a 20GB hard drive – with the idea for the cloud to feed data in to the device.
The Dyson Halo projected a virtual keyboard to “type” on any surface. It also featured a wrist-worn control pad that had a surface to use as a mouse, and tracked finger and hand movement for gesture recognition.
“Two plane mirrors reflected the display of two tiny monitors, mounted by your temples, onto a prism,” Dyson said. “This created an illusion of a projected, translucent, 10in display around one meter in front of you. The screen showed a series of applications similar to the smartphones of today.”
It seems that Dyson believed that there would be a voice recognition, and the headset worked with a digital assistant, taking simple voice commands and read out emails.
It is not really clear why Dyson shelved the project as it was a decade ahead of its time and would not really have required much to get it going. Officially it was so that Dyson engineers could focus on expanding Dyson technology into the USA.
Still the research has not died. Now that the Americans have high-tech hand driers and vacuums, Dyson is looking at elements of the technology which are being used in future research projects.