It’s fair to say that every tech giant is eyeing wearable technology right now. Microsoft, who has been reported to be working on similar technologies in the past, has invested $150 million dollars to purchase assets related to augmented reality and wearable computing, a new report suggests.
Last month, Facebook acquired Oculus VR handset for $2 billion; Google, on the other hand, which already has Google Glass under its belt, released Android Wear, an operating system for smartwatches.
According to sources at TechCrunch, Microsoft has paid around $100-$150 million to acquire the intellectual rights to the technology from Osterhout Design Group (ODG), a company that develops wearable display devices for military and government organizations.
As the report claims, Microsoft was keen on either buying the entire company, or at least get the intellectual rights to the wearable devices. Ralph Osterhout, founder and head of the ODG has confirmed that the ODG will remain a separate company and the government will continue to be its primary focus.
ODG owns around 81 patents regarding wearable technology, and many of them could be used by everyday consumers."The real focus are features that are applicable in the consumer space, too," Osterhout said. The company describes that it could compete with Google Glass as well. For example, its patent US8477425 B2 describes a pair of smartglasses optimized for augmented reality and 3D interaction.
But then again, it will be too early to explicitly say that Microsoft is working on wearable technology. Recently, we also saw Nokia working on a similar technology. Perhaps Microsoft just wants to own the patents so that it could get a cut of royalties when any company infringes on the patent in the future.
Although the acquisition doesn't necessarily hint that Microsoft’s is working on wearable display devices of its own, it does provide further evidence that the company is at least considering it.