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Google’s Project Glass Breaks Ground in the Patent Arena

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(Photo: Stock.xchng)
(Photo: Stock.xchng)

BUSINESS

  • Google secures 3 patents for its augmented reality peripherals project “Project Glass”; seeks 6 more
  • Oakley owns much of technology behind augmented reality glasses
  • No date set for final release 

Google has been awarded 3 design patents for its futuristic “Project Glass” browser glasses, which is the internet giant’s first foray into wearable computing.

No longer a unique feature of a sci-fi movie, it appears Google's X Lab has been working for some time on creating Project Glass, wrap-around style eyewear that uses augmented reality to push information from the internet via the Android OS onto the lenses of the glasses.

Put simply, Augmented Reality (AR) is a virtual simulation of the real world in its current state, paired up with a few virtual modifications. Google’s Project Glass functions as a communications device that enables phone calls, videoconferencing and even allows the wearer to send and receive messages through voice commands. There is also a built-in camera to record video and take pictures.

Always looking one step ahead, Google will not rest on its laurels of being awarded 3 patents and is aggressively looking to obtain as many patents related to the new Project Glass as it can. Although not officially associated with Project Glass, Google is working on 6 additional patents to cover innovations that assist with hearing impairments, sensors that interpret electrical pulses, multiple surround-sound microphones, cameras for different views, and a control touchpad.

While information on the overall patent process is sparse, some of Google’s employees as well as its CEO Larry Page have been spotted donning these unique peripherals around the industry scene.

The Real Technology Behind Project Glass

As it seeks to validate more patents, one challenge is that designer eyewear company Oakley owns much of the technology that makes these glasses a reality. 

Long before Project Glass was even a glimmer in Google’s eye, Oakley had been working for years on nearly 600 patents related to smart technology for glasses. However, rumor has it that because of Google’s generous funding abilities, they may be able to strike a deal with Oakley to license some of the patents.

It appears Google is keeping most details regarding Project Glass relatively quiet thus far during its testing phase, and it is not clear when or if they will be released to the general public.

While the official release date of Project Glass has not been disclosed, in recent press conferences Google indicated it would likely price the glasses in the same range as a typical smartphone, which averages between $250-$600.

Key Statistics – Mobile Augmented Reality Market

  • In the next five years, the Mobile Augment Reality market is one sector of Communications and Technology that is anticipated to see tremendous growth – far beyond its $11 million market worth back in Q1 2011. (source: Visiongain) 
  • By 2016, an estimated 1% of the general population will be using some form of Mobile Augment Reality, which reflects tremendous growth in the overall market. (source: Markets and Markets)
  • It is expected that the augmented reality applications market will see an impressive CAGR of 95% from 2011 to 2016. (source: Markets and Markets)
  • While North America and Europe lead in the augmented reality application market, Japan, China, and South Korea will be major players in the market over the next five years. (source: Markets and Markets)

By Laurie Juliano-Bachara for
Laurie Juliano-Bachara is a Chicago-based writer who covers the latest topics in professional services, entertainment and business news.

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