Imagine wearing a pair of glasses with an integrated HUD that told you the batting average of a baseball player as he approached home plate, or the amount of touchdowns a certain running back made during the last football season. This could be a reality for some of us in the not-too-distant future if Microsoft has anything to say about it.
Recently, a rather interesting patent application came to light highlighting some glasses that could give you more information about people involved with a sporting event as you’re watching it. Other applications of the technology might include gaming on the Xbox where ammunition readouts and targeting could be an added advantage to the player through a HUD rather than filling up space on the screen.
At this point, Microsoft has made no announcements or promises of a product that would compete with Google Glass. It’s just a patent application, and there are plenty of those filed every day that companies never end up using.
The possibilities of wearable computers have been theorized and attempted by a number of companies over the years. One of the most promising prospects for a truly wearable computer in recent years comes by way of Project Glass, a wearable computer that augments reality by providing an interactive HUD for the user. It also has photographic and video capturing qualities that could very well rekindle the world of lifecasting in a way that taping a webcam to the top of your head never could.
So would Microsoft be competing with Google? The projects themselves appear to have completely different uses, at least on paper. The device outlined in Microsoft’s patent application would be worn during specific events as opposed to all the time. It might be plausible to see them made available to concert goers or sports fans in an arena rather than worn out in public. Google Glass is very different. It is designed to be worn all day, every day.
Rather than theorize as to the various features of these devices (neither of which are publicly available for purchase, and only one of which has been seen in the wild), we could take a look at some of the past projects each company has produced to gauge whether or not either of these projects has what it takes to be a smashing success.
Few could argue with Microsoft’s success when it comes to Kinect. This device not only makes gaming a little more interactive, but has empowered developers to do a number of things from creating a motion-controlled Windows environment to building robots that identify users and interacts with them accordingly.
One could only imagine this type of technology being embedded in a wearable device. Facial recognition alone could prove invaluable in public gatherings where you might know someone (or even be friends with them on Facebook) and not quite remember their name or where you met previously. A device that can bring up the person’s name as you approach them would be very useful in these cases.
If Microsoft were to build a Google Glass competitor, you could bet that Kinect’s features would find their way onto the device in some way.
Google Goggles is a fun mobile app, but it could be incredibly useful when integrated with Google Glass. Imagine walking up to a landmark or seeing a book and being able to read all about it right there and then. Google’s visual search software is practically unmatched by anything else in the consumer world to date, and that would be a spectacular feature to see in wearable technology.
Google’s primary strength is search, and that instant access to information is at the heart of many people’s desire for wearable technology.
Both Microsoft and Google have a lot to brag about when it comes to the world of social media. Facebook may not be wholly owned by Microsoft, but there is enough of a vested interest there to encourage Microsoft to bring Facebook in on the social aspect of its augmented reality headset. Facebook’s facial recognition and quick status updates would be a natural fit for wearable technology, and it could prove very useful.
Likewise, Google has Google+, which may not be as big as Facebook, but it does have complete integration with a number of its other Web services. YouTube, Google Drive, Calendar, Voice, and other properties of Google provide a cohesive social environment for the user to interact with their environment and other people in a unique way.
No matter what awaits us in the next five years, it’s pretty clear that the industry is heading in a direction where wearable computers become a standard accessory for us all. It might not be cheap at first, but neither were smartphones.
What features would you like to see in a finished Google Glass or potentially even a Microsoft competitor?