Google Glass hasn’t even launched yet, but the search engine giant could face competition from another major brand in the tech space. Microsoft is reportedly testing prototypes for “Internet-connected eyewear” that sounds suspiciously similar to Google Glass, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Details are scarce, but the report further hints at Microsoft’s intentions make wearable technology a priority. The Windows maker has filed numerous patents relating to wearable tech within the past year, including an armband that lets you control computers via gestures, a wristband that lets you transfer data, and a head-mounted display aimed at gaming.
While some may speculate that Microsoft’s purported eyewear will be designed to compete with Glass, it’s also possible that the company will pursue a different direction. A lengthy 50-page document detailing Microsoft’s Xbox plans leaked last summer in 2012, describing a wearable gadget known as Kinect Shades. The concept detailed in the paperwork suggested that this eyewear would connect to the Internet and could provide an augmented reality gaming experience, which sounds similar to the company’s recent patent.
At the same time, other tech brands are readying heads-up displays of their own that could go head-to-head with Glass when it launches. Last month Intel invested in Recon Instruments, the maker behind the sports-oriented Jet eyewear. Vuzix is also developing an Android-based headset known as the M100, which features hardware very similar to Glass.
As of now, Google Glass is available to developers for $1,500, but no consumer price or release date has been specified just yet. Analysts predict that the wearable tech market is expected to boom over the next several years, with Gartner pegging it as a $10 billion industry by 2016 and NextMarketInsights predicting 373 million smartwatch shipments by 2020.