Google obtains patent for Project Glass-like smart-watch

Google’s Project Glass may soon extend to watches. On Tuesday, Google was granted a patent for a smart-watch with a flip-up display that appears to work much like Google’s highly-anticipated augmented-reality glasses.

According to the patent, the watch will contain a processor, wireless transmitter, camera, and transparent flip-up screen upon which information can be displayed. The wireless transmitter will allow the watch to connect to a smartphone, presumably so it can display smartphone notifications (emails, updates, etc.) as well as have access to a network. The camera will be used in conjunction with the flip-up display to determine what the watch is “looking” at, so that the watch will be able to display relevant augmented-reality information.

In the imagery provided with the patent, the flip-up screen is used to display product information.

 
Google's Project Glass glasses

Like Google’s Project Glass glasses, the smart-watch will be location- and surroundings-aware, and will use a combination of GPS and a camera to display augmented-reality information on the screen. For example, if you find yourself near a historical landmark you should be able to flip up your smart-watch’s screen, point at the landmark, and get information about said landmark on the screen.

It’s not clear whether the watch will work in tandem with Project Glass glasses, or whether it’s a totally different product altogether.

Regardless of how it works, Google’s latest effort is just another sign of the trend toward wearable computing. Apple rumors suggest the Cupertino company is working on smart glasses of their own (according to patents published over the summer), and a host of other companies, such as Sony and Nike, are also working to produce wearable electronics. Even Smith Optics, maker of skiing and snowboarding helmets and goggles, says it plans to release a pair of augmented-reality goggles aimed at winter sports fanatics who want head-up displays.

Whether any of this will actually sell remains to be seen – but, like it or not, it looks like the era of wearable computing is close by.

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