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'Earphone' could give Google Glass a run for its money

Posted: 21 Apr 2014  Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Samsung  Google Glass  Earphone  augmented-reality  wearable 

Amid the seemingly singular direction as to which head-mounted wearable devices are taking shape, Google Glass may soon share the stage with another novel invention. On the same day Google Glass was put up for limited sale to the public, Samsung entered the augmented-reality market with a one-sided headset it calls Galaxy Glass but referred to in a patent application as "Earphone."

Earphone, which Samsung has filed to patent in South Korea, has only a single miniature head-up-display, which extends around to present itself in front of the user's eye. Unlike Glass, which wraps around to rest on both ears like a pair of glasses, Earphone wraps around one ear and plugs audio directly into the ear canal using an earbud.

Samsung Earphone

Unlike Google Glass, Samsung Earphone has only a single miniature head-up-display. (Source: Samsung via GalaxyClub.nl)

The display has a hinge that would allow it to be moved out of the way when not in use, a feature Google Glass lacks. Earphone appears to be an effort by Samsung to take a mulligan, however.

The original edition appeared to be a traditional, dual-sided eyeglass-shaped model that started showing up in bits and pieces in tech publications, first in the October 24, 2013, Wall Street Journal Asian edition, and later in PhoneDog.

Samsung formally announced it would offer a Google Glass competitor during the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January, during which it referred to the addition as Galaxy Glass.

It offered more details to the regional press after applying for a patent with the Korea Intellectual Property Office, including the prediction that it would likely ship the Glass competitor at the IFA 2014 technology conference in Berlin, which starts September 5, according to a January 26 story in the KoreaTimes.

Images of the new, one-sided version nicknamed "Earphone" broke in the Dutch smartphone site GalaxyClub the same day Google put Glass on sale to anyone with $1,500, but only for one day, which coincided with publication of information about Google's extensive smart-contact-lens development plans.

The appearance of the patent diagrams of Samsung's redesign appeared to be a leak designed to remind potential buyers that Samsung was also in the running for the barely-existent wearable display market.

Galaxy Glass/Earphone is made, according to the patent filing, of "a transparent synthetic resin material" and is designed to provide "wearable augmented reality and [the] real-life experience of being able to listen to a variety of sources," according to the patent, as described by TrustedReviews.

It is designed to link to a smartphone, display alerts on a translucent lens, and let a user make calls on a Samsung phone in the same way a Bluetooth headset or Galaxy Glass smart watches would allow, the story said. Both the one- and two-ear Glass/Earphone designs appear to work wirelessly and to be designed to work with the look-and-type virtual-keyboard-control system that Samsung has also applied to patent, according to Android Authority.

- Kevin Fogarty
  EE Times





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