There isn’t much hotter in the technology world right now than wearable computers – there’s no shortage of companies looking into these augmented reality devices, and ever since Google started dishing out prototypes of their Project Glass last week there’s been a frenzy of big names rushing off to make their own.
One name which we’ve heard surprisingly little of on the matter is Apple. Usually the first to lead the charge in modern electronics the Californian company has stayed relatively quiet on this one – until now.
Apple’s patent: Uncovered last week, Apple’s latest patent refers to the ‘peripheral treatment of head-mounted displays’ – or augmented reality glasses as we would call them. The patent comes shortly after a similar document approved for Google in June, and it looks like the two might be going head to head.
Differences and similarities between the two: With comparatively little known about Apple’s intentions, placing the two against each other is a difficult task. What seems interesting though is the word ‘peripheral’ in Apple’s patent, which might suggest an incredibly immersive experience which could possibly trump Google.
Pictured in the patent are a number of displays; one which fires an image viewable by the eye of the user, and a further peripheral light which emits colours close to the periphery of the first display.
This would create a very engrossing picture which sounds like it could be a lot more intrusive than Google’s version, so it seems like Apple might be targeting the ‘wearable computer’ market a little more head on.
It might also mean that we’ll see less promo videos of people wearing the glasses whilst jumping out of planes or doing somersaults on trampolines – if the technology really is going to capture our vision so completely then I can’t see many people being comfortable wearing it in everyday situations (or less every day ones for that matter). At present, it seems like a fairly specialised piece of kit – Apple themselves have mentioned uses in surgery and the emergency services – though I can’t see them limiting the product to such a slim few when there’s heated competition out there.
Aside from this, there’s currently fairly little to compare – Apple adopt a notoriously hush-hush approach to their technology, though it wouldn’t be the first time the two giants have gone head to head in the market.
When will we know more?
In terms of Apple’s device, we might not. Above I referred to the patent as Apple’s ‘latest’ and this is because the company is well known for filing hundreds of unused patents (the Apple Smartbike, anyone?)
That said though, the patent was actually filed in 2006 which indicates that the company has been interested in such technology for a number of years. As ever, we never know what’s going on in Apple labs so they might be a little bit further along the way than we think.
Google’s Project Glass is set to be released in 2014 and the search engine juggernaut is ramping up excitement with videos and comments almost weekly. I wouldn’t get your heart set on Apple specs just yet, but it’s an interesting one to watch.
About Author:Rob writes for Direct Sight – a leading supplier of reading glasses online.