Bloomberg News

Samsung Pursuing Glasses That Answer Calls in Google Challenge

October 24, 2013

Samsung Electronics Co. (005930), Asia’s largest technology company, registered a design in South Korea for eyeglasses that can show information from a smartphone and enable users to take calls.

The device will have transparent or translucent lenses, include earphones for listening to calls or music, and has been registered as “sports spectacles,” according to documents posted on the Korea Intellectual Property Rights Information Service website. Samsung applied for protection in March, and the patent was registered Oct. 2.

The race to gain a foothold in the wearable technology market, which Juniper Research estimates will jump about 14-fold in five years to $19 billion, is luring companies from Google Inc. to groups on Kickstarter.com as the barriers to manufacture devices fall. Samsung released the Galaxy Gear smartwatch last month that takes pictures and enables users to make phone calls.

“Samsung is willing to throw things at the wall just to see what sticks,” said Brian Blair, an analyst at Wedge Partners in New York. “If they can find the right formula for what consumers want, they’ve got as good a shot as any because they have such a powerful, global brand name.”

Google’s Glass is a wearable computer that can take pictures and videos and share information via the Internet. It may be available this year or next, according to a company blog.

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In April, the Internet search company said it’s joining venture-capital firms Andreessen Horowitz and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers to encourage developers to write software for Google Glass.

Chenny Kim, a spokeswoman for Samsung, declined to comment. The patent registration was reported earlier by the Wall Street Journal.

In August, Google bought patents for wearable technology used in gaming and training simulations from Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., a primary assembler for Apple Inc. The head-mounted display technology consists of a computer-generated image that is superimposed on a real-world view, Taipei-based Hon Hai said in an e-mailed statement Aug. 23.

Google has been amassing technology for its Glass device from other Taiwanese companies, agreeing to invest in Himax Technologies Inc. (HIMX:US) on July 22. The eyeglasses can take pictures and videos and share information via the Internet.

Apple also has a team working on a watch-like device, people familiar with the company’s plans said in February.

To contact the reporters on this story: Jungah Lee in Seoul at jlee1361@bloomberg.net; Robert Fenner in Melbourne at rfenner@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Tighe at mtighe4@bloomberg.net


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Companies Mentioned

  • HIMX
    (Himax Technologies Inc)
    • $8.12 USD
    • 0.37
    • 4.56%
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