No sooner was Microsoft reported to be working on eyewearable prototypes than similar reports surfaced about Samsung Electronics. Samsung has filed a patent in Korea on a "sports" eyeglass device. The news is more solid than the reports about Microsoft, which amounted to rumor and cited unnamed sources.
Diagrams from the patent indicate the device has an outward-pointed camera, similar to Google Glass, but unlike Glass, Samsung's eyewearable appears to have earbuds built in. Whether this proves to be an advantage for a device worn on the face for extended periods of time remains to be seen.
According to the patent, "this design is of a type [of glasses] with earphones integrated, allowing [users] to take phone calls and listen to music during workouts.” Like Glass, the device is tethered to a handheld phone to push alerts and provide features for controlling the handheld "during sports activities".
Even the most casual industry observer must now realize that eyewearables are thought to be the "next big thing" with Google, Microsoft, Samsung and many smaller companies such as Telepathy, Recon Instruments (which aims its products at the sports market like the Samsung product), Meta and GlassUp playing in the space. Business Insider published a report this year that Google Glass will command an $11 billion market by 2018.
Still, it remains to be seen whether the devices will offer real advantages over today's smartphones, which increasingly operate hands-free. Google Glass, like all handhelds, is operated by a combination of keypad commands and voice commands, with some head tilting utility.
But the real potential for eyewearables lies in eye gaze commands that will allow the devices to be operated hands-free voice-free. So far, some patents have been issued on the technology, most notably to TelepathEye Inc., but no product announcement has been made.