Truly useful AR, or augmented reality, devices are still a ways off from dramatically changing people’s daily lives, but that may be about to change in the near future. According to a report from Business Insider, Alphabet (Google’s parent company) is working on an exciting new implementation for a device that could benefit those with hearing impairments. Code-named project “Wolverine,” the project is being run by Alphabet’s innovative moonshot division known as X.
With a division named X, it’s no wonder they chose one of the most well-known Marvel X-Men characters to represent this ambitious project to bring super-human abilities to those who need a bit of a boost. After all, one of Wolverine’s superpowers — aside from his claws — is a heightened sense of hearing. The researchers at X have reportedly been working on this project since 2018 with the goal of developing an AR device that would be worn in the ears, similar to modern hearing aids. With microphones and active noise cancellation-like technologies, such a wearable could help amplify and isolate relevant sounds and conversations for those who may have trouble discerning such detail on their own.
There is additional speculation that project Wolverine could go beyond a single wearable or app and evolve into an entire business of its own, much as Waymo and Loon were spun out from X into their own Alphabet companies. The project could compete with companies such as Bragi, Doppler, and Whisper, and the hope is that Google’s AI prowess and the project X development team could provide just the right secret sauce to push this kind of research forward significantly.
Whether project Wolverine turns into an innovative AR business or simply refines the next-generation technology that will power future versions of Pixel Buds to the top of the best wireless earbuds list remains to be seen. Regardless, it is exciting to see Google and Alphabet continuing to push forward in their AR research, particularly when it appears like they’re pursuing it for such altruistic and useful purposes.
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