The latest report has Apple giving up on its AR-based smartglasses project, which was considered to be its next big thing after the iPhone. Meanwhile, Samsung has filed a patent application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (via Patently Apple) related to its AR glasses. The patent application reveals a pair of glasses that turn on automatically when unfolded. A projector, located in the glasses’ temple, beams light on a small display located a lens. Thick frames house the electronics used by the device, which could employ ARM-based processors.
A couple of years ago, Samsung released a video of a project called Monitorless which showed a pair of AR-based smartglasses that look very similar to the illustrations used in the patent application. These glasses connected to a Samsung handset via Wi-Fi while the phone connects to a user’s PC with a cellular signal. This would allow users to see their desktop display through the glasses (hence the Monitorless name). Sammy showed off the Monitorless glasses at Mobile World Congress in 2017. Using electrochromic glass, the headset can be switched between Augmented and Virtual Reality. This type of glass can change their opacity by applying voltage to it.
A wearable electronic device comprising: a transparent member; a housing coupled to the transparent member in a rotatable manner via a hinge portion, such that the housing is foldable in a designated direction with respect to the transparent member; a projector at least partially disposed in the housing; and an optical transferring member configured to guide light emitted from the projector to the transparent member when the housing is unfolded with respect to the transparent member in an unfolded state.”-Samsung from its patent application
While there are a smattering of smartglasses in the marketplace now, the most famous ones are Google Glass, still used by businesses. As a consumer product, the product failed because the device could not live up to the promise shown in the video Google released when it announced Project Glass in April 2012. The $1,500 price was also too high for the average consumer and fitting the glasses was an ordeal. Movie theaters banned them over fears that films would be recorded by the AR glasses’ camera and some bars prevented patrons from wearing them because they could take pictures of their customers on the sly.
Samsung’s patent was filed on January 2nd this year.
Illustrations from Samsung’s patent application for smartglasses