Also described in the patent application are potential uses of a microphone, a camera, a keyboard and a touch-pad, either one at a time or together. The device could even include capabilities to understand and show just what the user wants to see, according to the patent application. In the absence of an explicit instruction to display certain content, the exemplary system may intelligently and automatically determine content for the multimode input field that is believed to be desired by the wearer.
"For example, a person's name may be detected in speech during a wearer's conversation with a friend, and, if available, the contact information for this person may be displayed in the multimode input field," the application states.
Another possibility is that the glasses "may detect a data pattern in incoming audio data that is characteristic of car engine noise (and possibly characteristic of a particular type of car, such as the type of car owned or registered to the wearer)," the application states. That information could be interpreted by the device "as an indication that the wearer is in a car and responsively launch a navigation system or mapping application in the multimode input field."
Google isn't the only company playing around with such ideas, however.
Motorola Solutions is building a headset-mounted computer called the HC1, which is similar to Google Glass, but is aimed at business users and is scheduled for sale in the first half of this year, starting at $4,000 to $5,000 each.
The HC-1 is a wearable computer aimed at making it easier for remote field workers to do their jobs in precarious locations, bringing a true hands-free computing option to enterprise workers, according to the company.
The HC1 will allow workers to give simple voice commands or use head movements to operate the computer to complete their tasks. The device was unveiled in October 2012.
The ruggedized devices also allow optional video streaming so that workers in dangerous situations, such as an electrical worker up on a power-transmission pole, can broadcast hands-free images and video of a broken component without having to let go of the tower and put his or her life in jeopardy, according to the company. Workers will also be able to use the HC1 to view business-critical documents and schematics in difficult conditions where traditional laptop computers would not be usable.
While the HC1 is a wearable computer that will allow its users to perform a wide variety of tasks hands-free, it differs from Google Glass in that it is aimed squarely at enterprise users and won't be offered as a device for consumers.