Wearable Tech World Feature Article
April 20, 2015

Vuzix Wearable Display Options Land Pair of New Patents

In technology spaces, one of the biggest things to watch in terms of the future is patents. Normally, people like to watch Apple patents as Apple comes out with some real barn-burners, but other companies have some noteworthy patents as well. Vuzix, for example, has just landed two patents worth watching in the wearable display field, and may well have some interesting implications for the company's near-term operations.

The patents in question—6243054 and 6559813—both have some noteworthy applications. For instance, patent 6243054 covers a system that “...stereoscopically projects a three-dimensional object having an interface range in a space observable by a user.” Essentially, the patented system allows a user to control the movement in the space itself, while being able to observe both the 3D projection and the actual object in the same frame of reference. Meanwhile, patent 6559813 focuses on projecting both virtual reality and three-dimensional images with a “... substantially transparent display means which also allows real images of real objects to be combined or superimposed with the virtual reality images.”

Vuzix's patent portfolio, at last report, now measures over 50 patents strong, and gives Vuzix better opportunity to drive development in wearable tech. Paul J. Travers, who serves as Vuzix's CEO and president, offered up some comment around the new development, noting that relevant intellectual property would be increasingly valuable thanks to increasing development in the wearable space. With the new patents on hand, Traverse noted, Vuzix would have a stronger overall field position and would also have, in turn, part of a “...long-term approach to staying ahead of the curve in this dynamic sector.”

Just looking at many of these patents—taken out back in the early days of the new millennium—makes it reasonably clear what Vuzix may have in mind with these: augmented reality applications. The patents seem to describe use cases for augmented reality applications, especially since the pair are dealing with things like gesture controls for three-dimensional objects and ambient light management issues in terms of a display system. Since augmented reality generally requires the user to be able to not only see the object in question, but also the virtual image of the object, these patents look like key portions of a full augmented reality development.

This raises an interesting point; Google Glass as a commercial development didn't do so hot, but Google Glass as a work-based tool did much better. Are head-mounted displays faltering because such systems aren't presenting a worthwhile use case to the average user? Are there issues of regulation getting in the way? After all, we've seen how augmented reality systems can be a huge help for navigation, but we've also seen lawmakers eager to brand such systems as distracted driving enablers. Maybe Vuzix has found a way to bring augmented reality systems to the regular user, not just to the corporate user, and this may well give Vuzix a new edge in the field.

With wearable technology in general under clear development, it may just be those edges that let a company stay in existence. Only time will tell what Vuzix does with its new patents, but it's a safe bet that these will be in some product fairly soon.

Edited by Dominick Sorrentino

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