Samsung is working on a new kind of user interface for a potential future product. The company has been busy filing patents related to smartglasses along the lines of Google Glass, and a new one shows how a virtual 3D interface could solve one of that product’s major shortcomings.
Google Glass was, of course, a market failure that has now been more or less shelved by its maker. While there were a number of factors involved, at least part of the problem was in how the user interacted with the device; since it was essentially a headset, the user could only really manipulate its software via speech command and by tapping basic inputs on the right arm of the device. Samsung’s new innovation would have an image projected in front of the user – as perceived through her own headset – that she could then interact with as an input. For example, the patent shows how an image of a keyboard could be virtually projected onto a user’s hand, and that user could then type into it as a device input, with the headset registering the interaction via two built-in cameras.
It’s called SixthSense, and it was developed by an MIT PhD student named Pranav Mistry in 2009; Mistry was recruited by Samsung shortly after showing off his idea at TEDIndia that same year. His time with Samsung has clearly been productive, and while the company doesn’t yet have officially-announced plans for an actual headset system like the one described in this new patent, with its recent foray into digitally enhanced apparel like the new Gear S2 smartwatch, the company may be eager to explore wearables further. It’s also just a really cool idea to have patented.