A new Google patent hints at a curved display for the next generation of Glass

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Image: AP Photo/Jeff Chiu
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Google’s next Glass wearable may well be a little easier on the eyes, though there’s no guarantee that it will look any better. In a patent awarded to Google today, the company outlined a curved display system for a head-mounted wearable computer. The patent suggests that a user could control the display of the wearable using a touch interface—rather like the one found on the current Glass Explorer model—and make it curve toward or away from the wearer, depending on what they are looking at.

The patent says curving images shown to the wearer could help Glass wearers figure out if what their screens are showing them is supposed to be coming toward them or moving away. The patent gives a range of examples, such a navigating a map, using Glass as a heads-up display when flying a plane (which seems ill-advised), or interactive gaming. In each case, the weaker would need to be able to determine the depth of field of what their display is showing them.

curved displays
Image: US Patent and Trademark Office

Curved displays have become a bit of a fad in consumer technology recently, but Google’s patent lays out a situation for which a curved display might actually be useful. A curved display could possibly solve the issue with some augmented reality headsets soon hitting the market—such as Microsoft’s HoloLens—in which the digital overlays end where the edge of the headset ends, detracting from the immersive experience. Curved displays could do a better job of mimicking the human eye’s peripheral vision than standard lenses do.

While there’s no guarantee that Google will use this patent in any future wearables, it comes at a time when there is renewed speculation that an updated version of Google Glass is in the works. The CEO of the Italian eyewear  manufacturer Luxottica—maker of Oakley, Ray-Ban and Persol glasses—recently said that his company is working with Google on a second version of Glass.

Google declined to comment on its plans for the patent.