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The company has finally seen its application approved, having filed it at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in May 2011.
Microsoft is now the owner of a patent for the AR glasses which it describes in its application as: “A computer implemented method providing supplemental information to a user with a head mounted display viewing a live event.”
According to Microsoft, the glasses will provide additional information to users watching a live event, such as a sports or music, with examples including commentary to specific actions or information on objects or participating individuals, replays of actions and song lyrics.
UK-based telecoms research group Juniper Research in August forecast that by 2017 over 2.5 billion AR apps will be downloaded to smartphones and tablets annually. In November, Juniper released a projection that AR apps will generate a global revenue of US$300 million in 2013.
The AR arena has thus far been dominated by the smartphone market, though Google is also pushing for entry. The search engine giant is racing to release its own set of highly-publicised AR glasses – known as Google Glass – with prototypes billed to become available in 2013. Google is toying with a number of features for its glasses, including providing an on-lens meeting schedule, weather indicator, direction checker, and may even allow users to place on-lens video calls – all of which would hover in front of the user’s vision.
While the corporations battle it out in the race to provide the first widely accessible AR product as separate from smartphone applications, it is unclear whether AR gadgets will be a lasting trend that changes the consumer tech ecosystem, or whether they will prove to be a fad with limited uptake among tech-centric individuals.