Google Glass, meet Baidu Eye. Yep, the Chinese internet giant has confirmed that it is working on a wearable device prototype that features speech recognition for Mandarin and image search.
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Rumours of the device have been circulating over the last few days after a Sina Tech report cited anonymous sources inside Baidu, who claimed the company was working on a prototype for a voice-controlled pair of glasses which featured an LCD display and will eventually support the applications built by third party developers. Baidu has now stepped in to deny inaccurate reports about the device’s functionality, as well as a reported partnership with Qualcomm designed to maximise the battery life of the device. It has also confirmed the authenticity of a photo of what appears to be an early version of the device.
In a statement to Mashable, Baidu said it did not have plans to ship Eye to the masses any time soon, as it was still testing whether or not the device would be a viable product. “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,” Baidu’s director of international communications Kaiser Kuo said.
It’s an interesting move for the company, although it seems fitting considering the fact that employees have been encouraged to disrupt and innovate to avoid stagnation. Baidu, often referred to as China’s Google, seems to be taking a number of steps to diversify its business recently — while it holds some 70% of the search market in the country, it’s also been focusing increasingly on mobile development and expanding beyond Asia through key partnerships in Africa and the Middle East.