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Microsoft Files Patent for Power and Functionality Modules that could provide Cellular Connectivity and more for Future Smart Glasses

1 cover Microsoft Smart Glasses patent

Microsoft and Wintel owned the PC market, leaving Apple in the dust. The came iPhone. Microsoft's CEO Steve Ballmer first laughed at Apple entering the mobile phone market and when the success of the iPhone revolutionized the mobile industry, Ballmer laughed no more.

Over the last few years, Microsoft has entered the hardware business with PC's and mobile devices. Their Surface Studio desktop system was first to offer a large fold-down touch display allowing artists the ability the draw on its huge digital canvas/display. They introduced their foldable mobile phone in the form of Surface Duo. Even though Microsoft blew the design by not introducing a single foldable display that they're working on now, Microsoft wanted to be ahead of Apple; to be seen as an innovator that could challenge Apple. While their efforts haven't even dented Apple's hardware, they keep trying.

While it's known that Apple has been patenting various smart glasses technologies, it wouldn't surprise me in the least if Microsoft once again beat Apple to market with such a device.

In August 2020, Patently Apple posted an IP report titled " A Microsoft Patent reveals that they're in a race with Apple to deliver Smartglasses with theirs using microLED displays."

On October 5, 2023, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office published Microsoft's latest smart glasses patent titled "Modular Power and/or Functionality on a wearable device." Microsoft's Patent figures of smart glasses is presented further below.

In order to power smart glasses for longer periods of time and be able to actually deliver a mixed reality experience or telephony, unlike Meta's almost useless glasses, Microsoft has filed a patent for a battery and functionality modules on a detachable module that could be set into the temples and/or frame of their smart glasses.

More specifically, Microsoft's patent relates to utilizing detachable modules to provide power and/or different functionalities to a wearable device. Briefly, the disclosed examples provide a wearable device comprising a frame configured to support the wearable device on a user, internal charge storage, and a module interface located on the frame. The module interface comprises an electrical connector to electrically connect to a detachable module positioned in the module interface.

In some examples, the detachable module comprises a battery configured to be used as a primary power source for the wearable device. When the detachable module battery needs recharging, the detachable module can be swapped for another detachable module with a charged battery. During the module swap, the wearable device may operate using the internal charge storage, thereby allowing the swap to be performed while the frame is worn without powering down. Thus, a user may continue to use the head-mounted device while swapping a discharged battery for a charged battery. Where a head-mounted device comprises prescription lenses, this capability allows the user to continue to use the head-mounted device for vision correction while swapping detachable modules. The term “hot swappable” may be used to refer to the ability for a detachable module to be removed and another attached while the head-mounted device is worn and is operating on power provided by internal charge storage.

Alternatively or additionally, in some examples, a detachable module may be configured to extend a functionality of the device, such as by providing a communications radio (e.g. Wi-Fi (wireless fidelity) or cellular), a LiFi (light fidelity) emitter/receiver, mass storage (e.g. a solid-state drive), compute capacity, and/or other functionality.

For example, a cellular radio of a detachable module can be connected for cellular communication, while a Wi-Fi radio of a detachable module can be for Wi-Fi communication. 

Providing intermittently used functionalities as detachable modules may help to reduce a weight of the wearable device and/or conserve power compared to devices that incorporate such functionalities as internal components. Batteries further may be included in such functional modules in some examples, thereby providing for power as well as extended functionality.

Microsoft's patent FIG. 1 below shows an example head-mounted device configured as a pair of glasses, with a module interface located at a temple piece of the glasses; FIG. 2 shows another example head-mounted device configured as a pair of glasses, with a module interface located at an earpiece of the glasses.

2 Microsoft smart glasses patent Oct 2023

Microsoft's patent FIG. 3 above, illustrates another example head-mounted device configured as a pair of glasses, with a module interface located at a nose bridge of the glasses; FIG. 7 shows a schematic depiction of an example detachable module charging case; and FIG. 8 shows an example computing system comprising a detachable module with an external device connector.

Microsoft later states that while FIG. 8 illustrates the smart glasses detachable module is connected to an external device via a device connector. The external device connector #808 may comprise a radio for wireless communication, such as a Bluetooth radio. External device #806 may comprise any suitable functionality. In some examples, the external device comprises one or more of an external logic system or an external memory system, and may help to increase a compute and/or memory capacity of head-mounted device #804 (smart glasses).

In the depicted example, external device is configured as a necklace. In other examples, external device may be configured as a belt #809, a clip to clip onto clothing (e.g. belt clip #810), a backpack, shoulder bag or other bag, a jacket, or a helmet or other head wear, as examples. Such wearable configurations may allow external device #806 to be conveniently carried by a user. Computing system #800 may be beneficial, for example, in situations where head-mounted device (smart glasses) is operating in an environment with intermittent cloud connectivity and/or in an off-grid mode.

For more details, review Microsoft's patent application 20230315152 published on Thursday October 5, 2023.

10.0x35 Patently Mobile


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