Facebook has the Oculus Rift, Microsoft has the HoloLens, and Google still has Google Glass (just about) – most of the big names in technology are working on an augmented or virtual reality headset of some kind, and it looks like Amazon wants in on the action too.
A filing just published by the US Patent and Trademark Office shows Jeff Bezos and his team are at least thinking about it: the patent application shows a pair of smart glasses that could potentially display video in front of the eyes of the wearer (no doubt Amazon Prime Video, of course).
The main benefit of augmented reality over virtual reality is that you can quickly switch back to seeing the real world, or combine overlaid graphics with what’s actually happening in front of you. That appears to be Amazon’s thinking, though it’s worth noting that the patent was originally submitted two years ago.
Who needs real life anyway?
One of the example scenarios mentioned in Amazon’s documentation is using the glasses to watch movies on a plane. AR technology is able to create a much more immersive experience than a smartphone or tablet, so you can more easily forget that you’re sat inside a cramped metal tube.
It’s a difficult technology to master though, and Amazon is going to need to invest some serious engineering time and effort to make this a reality. The company hasn’t officially responded to a request for comment.
Applying for a patent is one thing, but actually bringing something to market is another – as Amazon knows from the Fire Phone, making a hardware product that people will actually go out and buy is never straightforward. If Amazon’s AR specs do eventually show up, however, you heard it here first.