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Google Glass gets competition from China's Baidu

The Chinese search giant is reportedly developing a Glass-like wearable computer

Apparently, China's biggest search engine, Baidu Inc., doesn't just want to compete with Google in search.

Baidu is reportedly working on its own computerized eye glasses - going head-to-head, you might say, with Google's Glass project.

According to a report from Chinese news outlet Sina.com, Baidu has developed a prototype for a wearable gadget similar to Glass. Citing unnamed sources, the report noted that the company has been testing a device called Baidu Eye.

With 12-hour battery life, Baidu Eye reportedly has an LCD display and voice-control that can manage making phone calls, image recognition and Web searches. It also reportedly can use gesture recognition to take and send photos.

The description of Baidu Eye sounds a lot like Google's Glass, which has a transparent screen over the right lens, showing a list of options that include taking photos and videos, sending and receiving email, and sharing images with social networks.

Glass also is designed to be manipulated with touch, voice and gesture control.

"It's consistent for Chinese tech companies to copy US innovation," said Zeus Kerravala, an analyst with ZK Research. "I mean, Chinese engineering is very good. Top quality. But innovation still lives here in the U.S. The Chinese bring lower price points and push the U.S. companies to innovate faster."

Kerravala also said he's not surprised that the challenge is coming from a search giant like Baidu.

"Search creates context," he added. "Search gives you a lot of intelligence to allow you to personalize what people see. If you search on something multiple times, that could be highlighted in the glasses."

Google has not said when it will officially release Glass but it has chosen upwards of 8,000 people to test the wearable computers. The testers, dubbed "Explorers," were chosen based on a short description of how they would use Glass.

Each Explorer will pay $1,500 for their test pair of Glass, along with travel expenses to attend one of three events where the glasses will be handed out.

Kerravala said he doesn't envision Baidu's computerized glasses affecting Glass since Baidu is likely to focus on the Chinese market and Google will focus elsewhere.

"There's enough market for both," he said.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, on Google+ or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed. Her email address is [email protected].

See more by Sharon Gaudin on Computerworld.com.

Read more about emerging technologies in Computerworld's Emerging Technologies Topic Center.


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