Microsoft Tests Eyewear Rival To Google Glass

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

More signs that Microsoft is considering a move into the wearable computing market after eyewear tests

Microsoft is reportedly tested prototypes of Web-connected eyewear – which would compete directly with Google Glass.

Last year it emerged that Microsoft had filed a patent application for a computer-implemented method for providing “supplemental information describing at least the objects in the field of view of the user.” Now Microsoft is testing prototypes for Web-connected eyewear similar to the Google Glass device. according to the Wall Street Journal.

Although the WSJ warns the device may never reach mass production,  Microsoft has apparently asked several component makers in Asia to supply cameras and other key components for eyewear prototypes,  Microsoft is “determined to take the lead in hardware manufacturing to make sure the company won’t miss out on the opportunities in the wearable gadget market,” the un-named source reportedly said.

Growing Market

Others approaching the wearable tech include Intel Capital which in September made a “sizeable investment” in Recon Instruments, a five-year-old company that makes Google Glass-like headsets for sports participants such as bicyclists, skiers and runners. Other tech companies are also actively looking into the wearable technology market.

wearable tech clothes glasses user interface © wearable tech clothes glasses user interface © Syda Productions Shutterstock ShutterstockSamsung has already released its Samsung Galaxy Gear smartwatch, and Apple is widely rumoured to working on a similar device, slated to arrive some time next year.

Microsoft has also reportedly tested its own smart watch, that could have a number of removable wristbands in different colours. Some Microsoft smartwatch prototypes are said to come with 6GB of storage and support for LTE networks.

Hardware Heritage

Microsoft is of course no stranger to the hardware market. Over a decade ago it made a well-received computer mouse portfolio, but more recently it has made its mark with its Xbox gaming console and the Xbox Kinect motion sensor technology.

Microsoft has also undertaken its own tablet foray with its Windows Surface tablet, and is also looking to the smartphone market with its recent purchase of the mobile phone handset division of Nokia.

Juniper Research said in July that the wearable computing market will grow from about 15 million devices this year to 150 million devices by 2018.

But the advent of wearable tech has not been without a few problems. Google continues to face a number of privacy concerns with its Glass device, and in the UK, the government is reportedly considering the banning of use of the device when driving.

Suits you? Try our wearable computing quiz for size!

Read also :