Baidu Unveils Location Ad Platform, Display-less Smart Glasses

shutterstock_174831452Chinese search engine Baidu has launched Baidu Connect, a location-based service enabling bricks-and-mortar retailers to target nearby users with ads or promotions.

That kind of service might be nothing new here in the West, but as smartphone penetration in China rises rapidly (its already the worlds largest smartphone market by units, but smartphones arent expected to reach a majority share until 2018, according to eMarketer), Baidu is still in the early stages of developing a mobile offering to rival other Chinese internet giants Tencent and Alibaba.

The news comes out of Baidus developer conference in Beijing, where the company also unveiled the prototype of its first wearable device, the Baidu Eye smart headset. The Eyes camera can be used to identify real-world products (or a variety of plants, strangely enough) to access more info about them. This sounds like a cross between Amazons Firefly service and Google Glass, except that the Eye doesnt have a screen – instead information is relayed to users through an earpiece or on the screen of their smartphone.

Finally, Baidu also announced that it has taken a minority stake in Finnish indoor navigation company IndoorAtlas – an investment of $10m (£6m), according to Bloomberg. IndoorAtlas technology uses magnetic anomalies inside buildings to track smartphone locations, and this investment values the company at $40-50m.