While Google and Microsoft appear to have definite plans of bringing their respective video glasses to market over the next year or so, we've yet to officially hear from Sony. Microsoft's game plan is to directly tie their future video glasses to the next generation Xbox experience putting pressure on Sony to respond in kind. At the moment, the public may aware of Sony's new "personal 3D Viewer" that works with the Playstation, but they may not be aware that Sony has several versions of video glasses on the drawing board as well. In March of this year, before any of the hoopla over video glasses hit the market, one of Sony's patents regarding video glasses surfaced in relation to video gaming. In fact, Sony has been working on video glasses since 2008. So this isn't new to them in the least. Now a second patent has surfaced and this time around Sony is expanding their vision for their future video glasses to not only support "portable gaming" but also to function as an advanced camera-communications device that could have a rippling effect in several unexpected markets over the next decade.
Sony's Optical Communication Display Glasses
In patent FIG. 1 noted below we're able to see an example of Sony's optical communication display apparatus which is an eye-glass type display camera that the user could wear. The display panel portions 2a are composed of for example liquid crystal panels. By controlling the transmissivity of the liquid crystal panels, the display panel portions 2a become a through-state shown in FIG. 1, namely a transparent state or a semi-transparent state.
When the user wears the optical communication display apparatus, a camera lens 3a faces forward such that an image is captured in the visual line direction of the user. In this example, an image capturing section that includes the image capturing lens 3a functions as a light reception means that receives information optically transmitted from another optical communication display apparatus (the video glasses).
The Light Emitter
A light emitting section noted in the patent figure above as 4a, emits light in the visual line direction of the user who wears the optical communication display apparatus. Sony states that the light could be composed of an LED. The light emitter could be used to communicate with another optical communication apparatus such as a specialized watch, a headset, goggles, a visor or even "regular eye glasses" that mount the emitter. Sony also describes their video glasses as being equipped with a microphone and speakers.
In some form factors as noted in patent FIG. 2A above, the user could wear the device without the transparent lens or as in FIG. 2B, have the display come in the form of a wrist watch which could work in sync with the headset's camera. But it doesn't stop there. Sony goes on to state that the display apparatus (40) could also be a small portable device such as a mobile phone, a portable game machine and/or PDA. So the video headset will be able to be used for work and play.
Optical Communication Apparatus for Objects
Although it is assumed that the optical communication display apparatus is limited to glasses and/or small devices, the fact is that Sony has designed the optical communication display to also be mountable on objects. Sony describes these stationary objects as contemplatively including such things as posters, signboards, guide plates for various types of facilities, walls of buildings, doors, windows, and trees. And the objects could also be moving objects like cars, bikes and trains.
User Communications with Objects
This is kind of neat. In Sony's patent FIG. 3 we're able to see an example of where the optical communication apparatus 50 is mounted on a poster as an apparatus-mounted object. The optical communication apparatus has a light receiving section 8a and the light emitting section 4a that face forward. In this scenario, when wearer of the Sony glasses looks at the poster, they'll receive information optically transmitted from the light emitting section 4a.
In Sony's patent FIG. 13 noted above we're able to see one example of the type of information that you might receive when your Sony glasses lock onto a poster that incorporates a similar optical communication apparatus. In this case it's about receiving a discounted ticket for say a movie. Considering that Sony owns a movie studio, this could be a good place to start promotions related to the video glasses. Sony Music would be another. Once the idea catches on, Sony could work with other retailers, where it gets interesting.
Other Features: Camera, Bioinformation sensors
One of the added benefits of Sony's communication display glasses is that you know that you're going to get a quality built-in camera. Being that the camera is built into the frame of the glasses, you'll have a hands-free experience taking pictures. Extending their logic, the video glasses will act as your camera's view-finder, which is kind of neat. . Sony's patent application goes into great detail about various camera features like zoom and focus lenses along with all the bells and whistles of a modern solid state camera. While Sony never gets down to the specifics of how you'll actually be able to take a picture in a patent graphic, they do in general describe a user being able to tap the frame of the glasses to initiate taking a photo.
Another interesting feature will make sporting enthusiasts and health fanatics happy. Sony states that their glasses will be outfitted with the latest biosensors. Sony states that when the biosensor detects "bioinformation." The video glasses (the optical communication display apparatus) will recognize it as an operation input. Examples of bioinformation include pulse rate, heart rate, electrocardiogram information, electromyography, respiratory information (for example, breathing rate, breathing depth, breathing capacity, and so forth), perspiration, GSR (Galvanic Skin Response), blood pressure, blood oxygen saturation concentration, skin surface temperature, brain waves (for example, information about .alpha. waves, .beta. waves, .theta. waves, and .delta. waves), blood flow change, and eye conditions.
According to Sony, the system controller may recognize information detected by the biosensor as a user's operational input. For instance, blinking three times could activate a predetermined operation input. Okay, that one's a little weird. Yet one thing is for sure, the amount of sensors that Sony's proposed video glasses will possess is very impressive.
At the end of the day, Sony is working on video glasses for both gaming and the general consumer markets by adding next level functionality such as biometrics and an entry level tie into e-commerce. On paper at least, it would appear that Sony has a vision for products relating to video glasses that will come to market when the time is just right.
Sony's patent application was filed in Q1 2012 and published by the US Patent and Trademark Office in Q2 2012.
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