Samsung Spectacles: Google Glass competitor spotted in design patent

Samsung logoThe Wall Street Journal has spotted a Samsung design patent for wearable computer glasses. Patents are usually as ugly as possible, but keep in mind that this is a design patent. Unlike a regular patent, the final product should look pretty close to the patent (for comparison, here's a design patent for an iPad).

Samsung is going a completely different route than Google. Instead of a self-contained Android wearable that wirelessly tethers to a phone for mobile data and phone calls, the Samsung goggles are literally tethered—with a micro-USB connection. The Samsung Spectacles (that's what they're calling these, right?) physically plug into a smartphone, which sounds like it could fix a big problem with Google Glass. As a self-contained unit, Google Glass has to fill every available space with battery.

Samsung Spectacles: Google Glass competitor spotted in design patent

Theoretically, Samsung's glasses could draw power from the smartphone's battery, which could make the device less bulky than Glass and give it a longer battery life. An SoC would not even be necessary in the device when you have a cable; the glasses could just be a display device for the smartphone. Physically tethering the device opens up a whole world of possibilities, with the only downside being that you now have to do something with the cable. Given that most of the world has found a way to deal with wired headphones, this doesn't seem like a major hurdle.

Samsung Spectacles

You won't need headphones, because Samsung has opted to integrate earbuds into the frame of the glasses. This picks up a huge feature that Google Glass left on the table: music. The patent says that the device will allow users to "take phone calls and listen to music during workouts," and it categorizes the product as "sports glasses," meaning that Samsung doesn't expect these to be worn all day.

Comparing these to the Galaxy Gear, it seems that Samsung still has many of the same challenges to overcome. How much will consumers be willing to pay for a pair of sports glasses? What will device compatibility be like, especially if the glasses require sending things like power, music, and phone information over micro-USB? Not every phone will necessarily be equipped to do that.

Hopefully Samsung will figure it out and won't repeat the mistakes of the Gear. It's very hard to get people to switch devices just to use a wearable computer.

Source: Ars Technica

Tags: Google Glass, Samsung

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