Andy Rubin’s hardware venture Essential made its splashing debut earlier this week and greeted us with the launch of more than one hardware device, while we were expecting them to debut just an Android-powered smartphone.

The company also debuted companion modular accessories, a miniaturized 360-degree camera, and an Amazon Echo competitor, Essential Home, with a custom Ambient operating system. It, however, seems that the company’s hardware ambitions extend way beyond the already launched devices and it’s quite intriguing.

A patent filing by Essential Products, first spotted by Patently Apple, suggests that it is potentially also working on a Google Glass-like augmented reality (AR) smart glasses as well. As seen in the image attached above, the smart glasses being developed by Rubin doesn’t have any additional hardware dangling from the spectacles themselves.

They look like just another pair of glasses but with the technology required to overlay images in the surroundings — in front of your vision. And will be very different from Google Glasses, who’s failure was recently addressed by Andy Rubin in an interview with the Wired magazine. The creator of Android stated a very simplistic reason, saying that the world was not ready for that kind of glasses wearable at that instant of time. The tech wasn’t bad, he specifically made note of the same.

The renders of these smart glasses, codenamed Essential Smart Glasses, attached with the patent seem to give the idea that the said product will be more futuristic than Google Glass. Instead of overlaying a small piece of glass in front of the glasses, Essential plans to integrate the AR technology directly into a traditional pair of lenses.  Yes, not just one lens would display information but both of the lenses will do the same.

The patent filing describes a pair of spectacles that includes a “dual-mode” display, which sports cameras on both sides — one facing away from the user and the other looking directly at the user — mounted of the lenses. These lenses, as mentioned, can be anything ranging from normal no-power lenses to prescription lenses, photosensitive lenses, sunglass-lenses, etc.

Each lens in the one or more lenses includes a dual-mode display, with one or more using facing cameras placed within the dual-mode display. The one or more user facing cameras are oriented towards the user, and can track the direction of the user’s gaze.

As for the usability of the smart glasses, Essential seems to be looking to integrate ‘Google Lens‘ like capabilities into the glasses, a product which we expect to become a reality in a few years down the road. This means the underlying program, probably Ambient, will display information on the screen based on what you’re looking at. It is presently unknown if you’d have to trigger the action or it will continually display info — as it could be addicting as well as distracting.

Talking about the same, the patent filing reads,

Based on the environment that the user sees, and based on the direction of the user’s gaze, the processor can display an image to augment the environment around the user. For example, if the user is looking at a bar code of an item, the processor can display cheaper purchasing options of the same item.

This doesn’t come as a surprise because a new-age hardware company like Essential would definitely be experimenting with a host of technologies and concepts. And the patent, which may or may not see the light of day, suggests exactly that. Also, its competitors like Apple and Microsoft are also working on similar augmented reality glasses.

While Apple has been very vocal about the future prospects of augmented reality tech, it still hasn’t shown what its 1,000-member strong teams is working on out of Israel. We can expect Cupertino to show the progress it has made on the said front at its WWDC conference in the comping week. It is also said to integrating AR capabilities into the iPhone camera, while working on a next-gen smart glasses wearable as well.

Microsoft has already sold thousands of its AR-powered HoloLens devices but its Research division has been working towards the refinement of the said device. It has recently shown off its prototype near-eye holographic displays mounted on a pair of glasses, which promise to deliver true high-resolution holograms and wide 80-degree field of view to the users.

Essential is presently quite secretive about its efforts and this makes us super-excited about the hardware devices it may unveil in the times going forward. It may, however, have to change its minimalistic branding if U.S-based accessory maker, Spigen wins its trademark infringement complaint against the company. It already holds the rights to use the ‘Essential’ moniker for its products while Rubin’s company doesn’t.

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