“If you can get some inspiration from your competitor then there is nothing wrong in it”. Seems like Biadu (NASDAQ:BIDU), Chinese internet search engine company, strongly believes in this. The company has reportedly come up with a wearable glass technology, named ‘baidu eye’, that seems to be very similar to Google’s ‘glass’ that was introduced last year (2012). For reasons best known to Baidu, they claim it to be different and innovative than Google’s technology.
The news broke out around April fools day and took technology enthusiasts by surprise. While some of them appreciated the arrival of Google glass competitor, others slammed it as yet another attempt by a Chinese company to copy technology developed by an American company.
Due to the timing, there was a whole lot of confusion related to authenticity of the news. Some of the news outlets like Techcrunch made a full circle by first confirming that ‘eye’ definitely exists and is under rapid development but then an update to the same article said that though it seems like one of the best April fool’s joke but still has a ‘kernel of truth’.
Initial reports related to ‘eye’ also made several huge claims including that the company is working with Qualcomm to develop a technology that can extend the battery life of this wearable technology product to more than 12 hours. But, seems like this ‘Qualcomm story’ , that was making rounds on internet, prompted Baidu to make an official public statement to clear the confusion around ‘eye’.
According to Engadget, here is what Baidu’s director of international communications, Kaiser Kuo, said about ‘eye’ :
“We really are developing something similar in its basic functionality to what was described in the Sina Tech report and other sources in the Chinese press; the reports were correct in their essentials though they got some of the details wrong (and those inaccuracies may have its origins in an April Fool’s prank gone awry!). The project’s internal name is Baidu Eye. Not sure whether that’s going to be its final name. We’re doing some internal testing on it now on a small scale, and evaluating where this goes from here. That’s why we didn’t make any public official announcement on this.”
Mr Kuo also confirmed that the ‘Qualcomm story’ is not true to the best of his knowledge.
Baidu Eye – Features
‘Tit for tat’ or ‘eye for an eye’ ? Whatever you call it but one thing is for sure that ‘eye’ is not fundamentally different from ‘glass’ as Mr Kuo also confirmed that just like ‘glass’, ‘eye’ is also an ‘ocular wearable interface’.
As reported, It boasts of features like :
• Voice search
• Image search
• Facial recognition
• Bone conduction
Besides, ‘eye’ can also be used as standard pair of eyeglasses.
As of now, Baidu, the company, doesn’t seem to have an aggressive plan to launch ‘eye’ in the market. The company claims that ‘eye’ is an internal project which may or may not hit the market but doing research on any technology related to internet search falls in line with company’s vision.
Linux powered Google glass (download kernel code here) is scheduled to arrive in market later this year with an initial price tag of $1500. This price could act as a deterrent for consumers in growing Asian economies like India and China which have huge consumer and enterprise base. If ‘eye’ can strike the right chord with a balanced combination of ‘timely release’ + ‘affordable price’ + ‘decent quality’ then it can prove to be a good competitor for Google glass at least in Asia region.
Besides end consumers, products like ‘eye’ or ‘glass’ can even help small enterprises to improve productivity as one can do things on the go which otherwise would require a hand-held device like a tablet, Laptop or a mobile phone.
If a device like ‘glass’ or ‘eye’ comes with an affordable price tag then we can imagine a technology revolution similar to the one brought by Mobile phones. Sectors like education, defence, health can gain a lot from these kind of devices but there could be areas like cinemas, casinos etc where this technology can be misused.
So, yes, like any other breakthrough in technology, the wearable technology is also facing concerns. But, how deep these concerns can dent the business, this is yet to be seen.
Meanwhile, you can read this great article on what businesses can expect from Wearable technology.
Future of wearable technology
Wearable technology is the latest trend in which accessories or clothing incorporates computer as well as other advanced electronic technologies. Apart from Baidu and Google, many other companies are experimenting on this technology for example Apple is researching on a wristwatch device that would be able to show messages and e-mails that users receive on their iPhone. Similarly, Samsumg and LG are also exploring possibilities of a similar kind of smart watch devices.
Samuel Johnson – The Rambler said that Almost all absurdity of conduct arises from the imitation of those whom we cannot resemble. Let us wait to see what kind of imitation will Baidu Eye produce.