It looks like Google isn’t the only company working on “wearable computing” right now, if a Microsoft patent that was made public today is any indication. The patent in question outlines a design for a pair of augmented reality glasses with a built-in computer, and they look quite similar to Google Glass. The patent filing was dug up by Unwired View today after finally being granted, but the original submission was made by Microsoft in May 2011.
It looks like Microsoft is taking a bit of a different approach to the whole augmented reality thing than Google has, as the Microsoft device explained in the patent is not meant to be worn around during the day. Instead, it’s intended for wearing during live events like a concert or a baseball game, and would provide you with additional information about what you’re watching. It’s certainly a cool idea to be able to have player statistics and the like come up on a HUD while you’re watching a live sports game, but it’s a much less ambitious application of the technology than what Google is going for.
It’s worth keeping in mind that this is all a year and a half old now, and there’s no telling what changes Microsoft has made since then. For all we know, current prototypes could be much more comprehensive in their usefulness, and could be much more like the Google Glass idea of having them provide information all the time, wherever you are.
With Microsoft getting more and more involved in the hardware market these days, it wouldn’t be too surprising to see Microsoft release these glasses as a commercial product. There’s been rumors of the next-gen Xbox having some sort of augmented reality feature, so these glasses might have something to do with that plan. It’s also possible that Microsoft will wait and see how successful Google Glass is before they decide whether or not to release their own similar product.