Historically, patents have never been a rock-solid source for uncovering the future of a company's product pipeline. However, sometimes, the images you find in the patent application search archives are so convincing you have to pay attention.
Such is the case with Samsung and its recent patent application for a pair of augmented reality smartglasses.
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The patent application was filed on Jan. 2 and published on July 11 and is described a "folding-type wearable electronic device with optical transferring member for transferring light to transparent member from projector."
That's some fancy footwork to get around putting "augmented reality" in the title of your patent application to avoid the scrutiny of interested parties browsing the database, but the implication is clear: This might be an early look at Samsung's AR smartglasses.
What's most interesting is that the device looks strikingly similar to another device I've had a chance to get an early look at. The unit in question is a pair of monocular AR smartglasses that take the concept of Google Glass to the next level. (I'll have more to share on my experience with that device soon.)
Like the device mentioned above, the drawings in the Samsung patent application appear to show a monocular AR smartglass device that Samsung highlights as being foldable.
Later, the patent application describes the function of the device:
"One or more embodiments of the present disclosure may include: a transparent member; a housing coupled to the transparent member in a rotatable manner via a hinge portion, such that the housing is foldable in a designated direction with respect to the transparent member; a projector at least partially disposed in the housing; and an optical transferring member configured to guide light emitted from the projector to the transparent member when the housing is unfolded with respect to the transparent member in an unfolded state."
The patent application was first surfaced by Patently Apple, a site that agreed with our take that reports from a certain website that Apple may have quit its AR smartglasses development shouldn't be trusted without additional, more substantive sourcing.
This latest bit of AR patent information indicates that, whatever's happening at Apple, its chief rival, Samsung, isn't sitting on the sidelines while the mobile tech industry's AR story continues to unfold.