Earlier this month Samsung applied for a patent that makes Google glasses look like yesterday’s technology.
Samsung who has not given up on the dream of consumers one day wearing augmented reality glasses that work with their smartphones has been filing numerous patents relating to its own smart glasses project.
Various patents relating to components in Samsung’s smart glasses project have been approved by the US Patent and Trademark Office, but in particular, one patent application filed with the World Intellectual Property Organization points at uses for smart glasses that are far beyond the scope of what Google imagined.
The patent application for Samsung’s smart glasses describes using two cameras in the glasses to project three-dimensional images in mid-air in order to create a virtual input interface, with the aim being that users then have a visual way to interact with apps and smartphone functions, similar to the way they would interact with their phones.
But Samsung’s engineers have also gone a step further to visualize how a user could project the augmented reality objects onto physical real-life objects and use them to interact with the smart glasses’ menus or apps.
For example, in order to make a phone call or send a text message, the user can project the phone’s key pad on to his or her hand, held 10cm away from the glasses, and then use the fingers of another hand to press on the projected numbers on the hand to trigger the smartphone to make a call.
Similarly, the user could also use this technique to type a quick SMS text message to a contact and flick through the phone’s dictionary for the correct word or character.
Even better, the user could project a virtual piano keyboard from the glasses on to a desk and proceed to play virtual keys, or use a stylus, pen or finger to touch a blank note pad, on to which an app, such as a word processor with a QWERTY keyboard or a mobile game is projected. In the case of a game, speakers in the smart glasses would broadcast any sounds to the user’s ears.
The technology being used is known as Sixth Sense. It was developed by Pranav Mistry while he was studying for a PhD at MIT in 2009 and he showcased it in a TEDIndia talk in the same year. Today, Mistry works for Samsung and he presented the very first version of the Samsung Gear VR headset in 2013.
“A current input method of smart glasses is limited. A user basically controls the smart glasses by using a voice command. However, it is difficult for the user to control the smart glasses by using only a voice command if a text input is required. Thus a wearable system that provides various input interaction methods is required,” Samsung’s engineers write in the patent application.
Can Samsung’s ideas for smart glasses succeed where Google has so far failed? Perhaps creating an interactive experience with a visual aspect that users can touch would be good, but just imagine how strange you would look tapping on stuff in mid-air that no one else can see?
Perhaps it would be best to just get out your smartphone or tablet and interact with these devices since, you know, they already exist.