Google once built and shelved a Star Trek Communicator-style wearable

Google once built and shelved a Star Trek Communicator-style wearable
Credit: Google via Time

It’s no secret that Google likes experimenting with space-age ideas, from self-driving cars to internet access beamed from balloons in the sky. What it didn’t talk about until now is a Bluetooth-enabled wearable that lets users search Google using just their voice.

The small device was designed to be attached to your lapel and was equipped with a mic and speaker, so the wearer could ask Google anything and hear it respond — all without having to pick up their phone.

The project has since been shelved, but it speaks to the company’s drive to learn how people might use search in the future. In an interview with Time, Google’s senior vice president for search Amit Singhal (pictured above) talked about how the device was inspired by a gadget used on Star Trek by Captain Picard to communicate with The Enterprise.

I always wanted that pin. You just ask it anything and it works. That’s why we were like, ‘Let’s go prototype that and see how it feels.

Singhal didn’t say exactly when Google developed the prototype, but it might make more sense now than ever before. The company has significantly improved voice search on mobile and its search engine has been upgraded with an artificial intelligence-based system to understand complex queries, even those it’s never come across before.

➤ Google searches for its future [Time]

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