Once just an element of science fiction, wearable tech is growing in strength with the release of smartwatches, smart patches, and other weird and wonderful wearables. But smart glasses have been mostly absent since the quiet disappearance of Google Glass (now only available to some businesses). Apple is rumored to be looking into similar technology, but since one of those companies has previous experience, we’re expecting Google to beat its mobile rival to the post with a new version of Google Glass. Here’s everything we know so far.
One of the major issues with Google Glass was the look. Smartglasses were sold to the public on the idea that they would offer all sorts of technical innovations, while still looking pretty innocuous. Privacy concerns aside, that was one of the major needs for wearable smart tech — no one wants to look like Geordi La Forge in real life.
This problem could soon be solved, as Google has filed for a patent that shows how wiring can be integrated into a pair of normal-looking glasses. According to imagery and text contained in this patent, Google is looking into ways to better integrate the tech within the product for a more usual look. In simple terms, Google wants hide the “smart” part inside the “glasses” part. In terms of this specific patent, that involves running wires through the frame of the glasses themselves, and molding the frames to accommodate the extra wiring.
Extra technical components would be hidden within the arms of glasses, or what the patent terms “side-pods” — not the sexiest name ever. There’s some flexibility within the patent as to whether the arms need to be connected or not — the text questions whether it would be required to transfer battery power or audio signals between the two side-pods. The imagery on show also includes two extra circular components attached to the arms that would function as earpieces, and could be clipped behind the ears, or could transmit audio through the bone conduction method. The image above also shows at least one microphone (marked 146), and an integrated touchpad (124).
Interestingly, the first image does not contain a graphical display for the glasses, marking the first pair of glasses as being primarily audio-based. Fig. 1B shows a pair of glasses with an included graphical display (158 & 160), along with an onboard computer (158 on the arm) that would allow users to overlay data onto their surroundings and, for example, tell you that someone’s clothes, boots, and motorcycle are a perfect match for your requirements.
Not much is known about the features of an upgraded set of Google Glass smartglasses, but the design patent gives us some indication of Google’s ideas. Outside of a graphical interface, microphone, and earpieces, the patent makes mention of inward-facing LEDs or lasers that could paint an image directly onto the user’s eyeball. Other interesting ideas include using the graphical interface to create an in-focus image nearer to the user’s eyes, bringing distant objects into focus or allowing for digital eyesight correction. Wi-Fi modules, sensors, and USB connectors are also among the ideas for optional modules included within the arm side-pods.