Augmented Reality – Through The Looking Glass

November 30th, 2012

There has been talk as to the potential for the use of augmented reality in enriching customer experience for some time now. A recently published patent from Microsoft suggests that the future of augmented reality may be right in front of your eyes.

The patent, titled “EVENT AUGMENTATION WITH REAL-TIME INFORMATION” suggests that by wearing a “head mounted display” a user would be able to see “supplemental information when viewing a live event.” The possibilities for this are potentially endless, and Microsoft are not the only company to see the potential in augmented reality headwear. Google’s Project Glass received the award of one of Time Magazine’s “Best Inventions of the Year 2012” without even having being launched publicly. Other companies such as Explore Engage, TTP and Vuzix are also working on their own rival systems. Launch dates for these products remain unclear, with some reports suggesting at one point that Project Glass could be a commercially available product by the end of 2012. This estimation now seems unlikely, but there seems to be little doubt that 2013 could be the year that augmented reality headwear becomes an un-augmented reality in stores.

With all these companies developing, designing and applying for patents left, right and centre, it seems likely that the first product to hit the shelves will shortly be followed by those of its competitors claiming to be that little bit different, or that little bit slicker. A competitive marketplace as a general rule is of benefit to the end buyer, but with all the recent legal haranguing between Apple, Samsung, Ericsson, Google, HTC and every other mobile electronics manufacturer, could these recently published patents be the potential lawsuits of the future?

Details of Microsoft’s published patent application can be seen here:

USPTO Application