One month after Google announced it had purchased a stake in a Taiwan-based display company that will enhance its capability to mass-produce chips for Google Glass, the tech giant has purchased patents on wearable technology used for gaming and training simulations.
The patents, for projecting computer images on actual views, were purchased from Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., a key component maker for Apple devices, Bloomberg News reported. The sale price was not disclosed.
Coming Into Focus
While neither company is saying how the patents, once sold, would be used, it's probably a safe bet Google engineers are looking to add more functionality to the mass-produced version of Google Glass, not yet commercially available.
"You always want to own or license IP to core functions of your products, and, while I'm no IP lawyer, it would seem that HUD patents are pretty core to wearable displays," said Avi Greengart, a consumer devices analyst for Current Analysis, referring to intellectual property for heads-up displays.
Our e-mail to Google asking how the patents would be used was not answered in time for publication. There was no mention of the deal on Google's official blog for company news as of Friday afternoon.
After beta testing, Google Glass will enable hands-free interaction with a computer similar to a smartphone, responding to voice commands for searches and other functions. Google Chairman Eric Schmidt told the BBC in April that its expected release this year has been put off to allow further development of applications, making an early 2014 launch more likely.
Together with smart watches believed to be under development by Apple, Samsung and others, Google Glass will usher in a new era of wearable tech that will further integrate connectivity with daily life. Could a smart tie be far behind?
"A watch and Glass are the obvious places for wearable technology that display -- it would be awkward to embed a display in your shoe, for example," Greengart said. "And, by the way, I did have a gadget tie from ScottEvest at one point -- it had a tiny little pocket in the back for storing an MP3 player or other thin/light gizmo."
Another analyst, Jeff Kagan, is worried about where all this is headed.
"This is like putting live information to be read inside the windshield of your car," Kagan said."It makes sense except if you take your eyes off the road to read the information on the inside of the windshield. How many crashes and burns will result from new technology? There is always that nagging problem."
Kagan expects that Google and others will pump "lots of crazy ideas into the marketplace," while some of them will be viable. "Most of it, however will be tried, look ridiculous, be ridiculous, and then disappear," Kagan said.