Smart Glasses From Microsoft On The Horizon
November 23, 2012

Smart Glasses From Microsoft On The Horizon

Lee Rannals for — Your Universe Online

It seems as though Microsoft will be looking into importing software into glasses as well, as reports emerge that the technology giant has filed its own patent for digital glasses.

Many companies, including Google, have been looking into creating smart glasses that connect with smartphones and other devices. Now, Microsoft has thrown its name in the ring with its latest patent.

The patent describes how the smart glasses could be used to bring up statistics of a baseball game, or details of characters in a play.

It was filed by both Kathryn Stone Perez, executive producer of the Xbox Incubation unit, which developed the Kinect sensor, and John Tardiff, an audio-video engineer who had worked with Apple.

The patent said that augmented reality headwear would avoid the risk of missing a key moment and also make it possible to see effects reserved for people watching on TV. It suggests the key to making it work would be to vary the transparency of the lens of the glasses.

"[It would be] capable of generating display elements on various portions of a user's display while remaining portions of the head mounted display are transparent to allow the user to continue to view events or occurrences within the live event," the patent reads, according to the BBC.

"Other alternatives allow the display to become completely opaque, in order for the display to provide, for example, a display of a video such as an instant replay of the live event," it continues.

Microsoft would create a wrist-worn computer to operate the device, or the user could control it through voice-commands and at the flick of their eye. The company says that most of the work would be carried out by the remote computer servers in order to keep the equipment small.

A wide range of sensors would be needed in order to build the eyewear, including a microphone, video camera, gyroscope, eye gaze-trackers, infrared detector and magnetometer, according to Microsoft.

The patent filing also talks about some of the technologies it could license that have been created by other companies.

Google's Project Glass is another set of smart glasses being developed, and BBC reported that the company is planning to release these to developers sometime next year.

"The devices will help integrate technology into human life, making things like augmented reality more seamless than it is on smartphones at present," Nitin Bhas, senior analyst at Juniper research, told the BBC. "We think smart glasses and other head-worn displays will be the next major form-factor for computing with adoption by consumers beginning around late-2014 to 2017."

The glasses may also be something Microsoft is looking into integrating with its next generation Xbox line. PC World reported that Microsoft's next gaming console will not only include Blu-ray and DVR, but also augmented-reality glasses.

The report said that the glasses could work with Kinect to create virtual reality, which could be coupled with 3D sound to project audio to specific parts of a room.

Microsoft's "Xbox 720," as reports refer to it, will be launching in November 2013. PC World says that top developers are already making games for the console.