Baidu Eye Prototype Unveiled To Rival Google Glass

The much-anticipated Baidu Eye revealed on Wednesday. (Baidu)

The much-anticipated Baidu Eye revealed on Wednesday. (Baidu)

After over a year of speculation, Chinese tech giant Baidu has finally revealed Baidu Eye—its answer to Google Glass—at the Baidu World conference in Beijing.

Displayed on Wednesday, the working prototype is visually different from Google Glass—it wraps around the back of the head with a camera on one side and an earpiece on the other. Since it doesn’t go across the face, it’s certainly a lot less goofy-looking than Google’s device, meaning that Baidu may not have to enlist the help of Diane von Furstenberg to try to make it cool.

The Baidu Eye wraps around the back of the head, making it less conspicuous than Google Glass. (Baidu)

The Baidu Eye wraps around the back of the head, making it less conspicuous than Google Glass. (Baidu)

Unlike Google Glass, the tool sends visual information to the user’s mobile device, which Baidu says makes it “easier to browse than on a small, mounted screen.” According to Baidu’s international communications director Kaiser Kuo in a statement to Tech in Asia,

Basically, Baidu Eye allows the user to analyze images and provide information or services related to your current field of vision or a specific item. You can use voice commands, or gesture commands–like expanding to zoom, or circling an object in your field of view with your finger. You can identify plants, or find products–so far, handbags and articles of clothing–on e-commerce sites. The use case scenarios for now are limited, but we’ve got an enormous data set of clothes, bags, and flora right now.

It’s been a long wait for eager Chinese tech-lovers: Baidu originally announced that it had a prototype of the Baidu Eye in April 2013, but then revealed that it was actually an April Fool’s joke. One year later, a photo emerged from Baidu’s company offices showing that there was indeed a device in the testing stage.

Baidu clearly saw potential in the device thanks to the popularity of Google Glass in China—retailers have been selling real and fake versions of it for 12,000 and 20,000 yuan ($1,950-$3,252) on Taobao. Experts also believe that Chinese consumers’ openness to new technology makes the country a huge potential market for wearable tech.

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A test run of the Baidu Eye. (Baidu)

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