October 25, 2013
Samsung Has Its Sights Set On Smart Glass Market
Peter Suciu for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
The wearable fitness market is heating up with tech giants across the board racing to get new, innovative smart devices out to ever-hungry consumers.
Earlier this week rumors circulated that Microsoft was planning to enter the wearable smart electronics market and that the software maker was in the process of developing its own smart glass that could compete with technology developed by rival Google.
Now it appears that Google could be getting competition from Samsung as well.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday that a design patent had been registered with Korean authorities this month for an electronic device in the form of spectacles that has been categorized as a type of “sports glasses.”
The paper reported that a memo attached to several drawings of the device stated, “This design is of a type [of glasses] with earphones integrated, allowing [users] to take phone calls and listen to music during workouts.”
According to online reports, this device would be linked to a smartphone and could display information from apps. While the patent did not actually describe what type of apps could be used on the device, fitness trackers would seem like a possibility, as users could monitor heart rate, calories burned and other workout data. This could leave the user’s hands free during fitness activities.
Based on the patent sketches, the Samsung device does have similarities to Google Glass. In this case the device might feature a lens that is either transparent or translucent, perhaps allowing the wearer to see the data in a lower corner of the lens.
Samsung has not responded to the patent filing, but it does appear that the company could be moving into the wearable tech sector in the near future. At the IFA consumer tech show in Berlin in September the company unveiled its line of Galaxy Gear smartwatches. These can relay text messages and emails to a 1.63-inch, 320x320 pixel Super AMOLED touchscreen.
The Galaxy Gear watch can connect with Android 4.3 mobile devices, including the Galaxy Note 3 and the Galaxy 10.1 (2014 edition) tablet.
Even with its entrance into the wearable market, it does not appear that Samsung believes that wearables will overtake the traditional handset market anytime soon.
“For a considerable while, smartphones and wearables will co-exist,” J.K. Shin said at last month’s press conference in Seoul for the Galaxy Gear smartwatch launch.
There are a number of issues that still need to be resolved, and the Journal noted that analysts cite battery life as a hurdle that will still need to be overcome for wearables to gain mass appeal. However, LG Chem Ltd., which produces batteries for LG Electronics as well as Apple, last month demonstrated a cable wire that contains batteries that could be used for wearables.
A report from Juniper Research has also noted that the convergence of fitness and mobile technology could be set to take off. The research firm predicted that the wearable device market could reach $19 billion by 2018, up from just $1.4 billion for this year.
Recon Instruments already produces a line of Smith I/O ski goggles that connect to a mobile phone via Bluetooth. A PR specialist with Recon also noted that the company "works with Alpina, Briko, Oakley, Scott, Uvex and Zeal to provide heads up displays in ski goggles."