Samsung beat Apple in the smartwatch race. Now Samsung reportedly is gearing up to take on Google and its upcoming Google Glass headset.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Samsung has registered a patent with Korean authorities for a smart headset in the form of glasses. The device, which would include a lens, would be connected to a smartphone and show alerts for information on the phone, according to the news organization. Integrated earphones would let users take phone calls and listen to music.
Samsung is letting some selected users test the device, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The patent for the glasses comes a month after Samsung launched its Galaxy Gear smartwatch. The Galaxy Gear device and Qualcomm's Android-running Toq—both of which were released Sept. 4—joined a range of smartwatches already on the market, including the SmartWatch2 from Sony. Google, LG Electronics and HTC also reportedly are working on their own smartwatches.
The Galaxy Gear, which the company is promoting heavily in television ads, includes Samsung's S Voice technology, which lets users place a call, check the weather, set alarms and draft messages using their hands. The Android-running smartwatch also includes Samsung's Smart Relay feature, which alerts users to calls, texts, emails and other information coming into a paired smartphone.
It's part of a larger trend toward wearable smart devices that industry analysts expect to gain momentum in the coming years. Analysts with Juniper Research in July said they expect shipments of such wearable devices to grow tenfold by the end of 2018, reaching 150 units, with the fitness and health industries accounting for more than half the devices shipped during the forecast period.
As the wearable device space grows, it promises to become a highly competitive area for chip makers like Intel and ARM, which continue to drive down the power consumption of their processors. ARM already designs the low-power chips that are found in the bulk of smartphones and tablets on the market today.
In September, Intel executives introduced a new family of low-power systems-on-a-chip (SoC), called Quark, which they said will be aimed at wearable devices and the Internet of things. The small Quark chips—the first of which, the Quark X1000—are a fifth of the size of Intel's low-power Atom SoCs and consume a tenth of the power.
Intel also has invested in wearable device makers, such as Recon Instruments.
Wearable devices also look to be a competitive area for device makers. Google is continuing to push forward with its high-profile Google Glass device. It currently is testing early versions of the device with about 10,000 people in the United States. The connected devices can do everything from record and upload photos and videos to navigate maps, all without having to be paired with a smartphone.
However, some of those capabilities have raised concern over Google Glass' impact on privacy, not only among privacy experts but among lawmakers as well.