Rumors (and leaks) about Microsoft's plans to deliver some kind of glasses akin to Google Glass have been making the rounds for more than a year.
But it finally sounds like Microsoft's plans are firming up enough for Microsoft to be ordering components, at least according to a new report in The Wall Street Journal.
The original leaks about Microsoft's optometrical aspirations -- which came from a Microsoft slide deck from 2012 -- had Microsoft building augment-reality glasses to supplement its Xbox One. Those glasses, codenamed "Fortaleza," were targeted for delivery in 2014 (at that point).
A lot has changed since that slide deck made its debut. Google announced and began seeding developers with Google Glass. "Glassholes" became a thing. And all the major consumer tech vendors, including Microsoft, were falling over themselves to come up with unique (and some not-so-unique) wearable technology devices.
The person spearheading Microsoft's forays into wearables is Alex Kipman, I've heard from a couple of my contacts. Kipman is credited as one of the main visionaries behind Microsoft's Kinect sensor and has been heading up Xbox incubation for the past few years. (He previously worked on MSBuild and Vista Ultimate.)
My contacts say Kipman is now in charge of the "new devices" team that reports to Terry Myerson, who is head of Microsoft's unified operating system division. (The head of the new devices team under Myerson hadn't been named publicly.)
I asked Microsoft whether Kipman and his band are the ones working on Microsoft's version of Glass -- which I'm also hearing has evolved to become something other than just an Xbox peripheral. A spokesperson declined to comment.
Update: I've heard from a couple folks that Kipman can't/shouldn't be working on new hardware, since he isn't part of the Devices & Studios Group. I don't know what he's working on specifically. Maybe software or services? But I do hear he is working on new devices in some capacity and is working for Myerson....
There are a couple of points worth mentioning on the "new devices" front. As the Wall Street Journal noted in its latest report, these projects are experimental and may never enter mass production. It happens. (See Microsoft Courier.) Also -- there may be a Bing connection in this, as there's an augmented reality team in Bing that is supposedly building new augmented-reality applications for Windows tablets.