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China's Baidu developing digital eyewear similar to Google Glass

The company logo of Baidu can be seen on its headquarters located in Beijing March 24, 2010. REUTERS/David Gray
The company logo of Baidu can be seen on its headquarters located in Beijing March 24, 2010. REUTERS/David Gray

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Baidu Inc , China's largest search engine, is developing prototype digital eyewear similar to Google Inc's Google Glass that will leverage Baidu's strengths in image search and facial recognition, a Baidu spokesman said on Wednesday.

Internally known as project "Baidu Eye", the glasses are being tested internally and it is not clear whether the product will ever be commercialized, said Kaiser Kuo, Baidu's spokesman.

Kuo said the device will be mounted on a headset with a small LCD screen and will allow users to make image and voice searches as well as conduct facial recognition matches.

"What you are doing with your camera, for example, taking a picture of a celebrity and then checking on our database to see if we have a facial image match, you could do the same thing with a wearable visual device," Kuo said.

Baidu's first foray in wearable technology will draw comparisons to Google's Google Glass product, which is a piece of electronic eyewear that can live-stream images and audio and perform computing tasks. Earlier this year Google launched the Google Glass Explorer program, opening up the eyewear for early enthusiasts to test.

Kuo said comparisons to Google Glass were premature as Baidu has not decided whether or not to commercialize the product.

"We haven't decided whether it is going to be released in any commercial form right now, but we experiment with every kind of technology that is related to search," Kuo said. Kuo declined to comment on the other functions of the Baidu Eye or whether Baidu is working on other forms of wearable technology.

Wearable technology is the latest technology initiative with many firms, including Google and Apple Inc , set to roll out devices based on the belief that users will increasingly seek to stay connected without being tethered to a desktop, laptop or tablet computer.

Apple is experimenting with a device similar to a wristwatch that would operate on the same platform as the iPhone and would be made with curved glass, the New York Times reported in February.

(Reporting by Melanie Lee; Editing by Matt Driskill)

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