Update: Baidu Eye Was An April Fool Gone Wild, But With ‘A Kernel Of Truth’ Based On A Real Internal Project

Update: And the joke is up. The flurry of reports about Baidu’s supposed Google Glass competitor, Baidu Eye, are actually based on an April Fool’s joke. Like all of the best April Fool’s, it had just enough realism to it to be believable. In fact, there is a “kernel of truth” to the story, Baidu spokesperson Kaiser Kuo tells TechCrunch.

“There is an internal project we are working on, a small internal test,” he says. “But we’re not even certain it will ever be brought to market.” He says that Baidu’s concept, like Google Glass, is based on an ocular interface and built with LED. “It’s all about visual search on images and voice command. These have been a part of science fiction since the Fifties but now they’re becoming reality.”

He emphasizes that there are no hardware vendors selected (Qualcomm was among those named as the story “spun out of control”). “I have not been invited to play with it,” he notes. “We may go with it, but we may not, but it certainly fits with what we have been doing.” Like its competitor Google, Baidu has put a lot of investment into looking at what the next generation of search might look like, including efforts in image search and facial recognition, both of which would obviously have a natural home in a piece of head-mounted wearable computing. Being ahead of the game is important for Baidu not only to help it hold on to its 70%+ share of the Chinese search market but also for its wider ambitions to carve out a place for itself elsewhere, including Africa.

Earlier story, rounding up all the scuttlebutt, below.

Baidu, the search giant often referred to as the “Google of China,” is reportedly developing its own version of Google Glass, according to a article in Sina Tech (link via Google Translate). We’ve contacted Baidu for comment.

Testing of a prototype has reportedly already begun. According to the Sina Tech article, Baidu Eye has been in development for “several years” by a team under the direction of Baidu’s chief product designer Sun Yun-feng. The wearable gadget is equipped with tiny LCDs, voice control, image recognition, bone conduction (which allows sound to be conducted to the inner ear through the bones of the skull), and can also function as a standard pair of eyeglasses. Furthermore, developers will reportedly have access to Baidu’s cloud ecosystem to create apps for Baidu Eye. News Web site QQ.com also reported that Baidu has been working with Qualcomm to develop technology that will extend Baidu Eye’s battery life to 12 hours.If Baidu Eye does indeed hit the market, it can offer Baidu a big boost as it seeks to diversify its business away from online search. Though Baidu still holds about a 70 percent share of China’s online search market, it faces competition in that arena from upstarts like Qihoo.

Image via Sina Tech