(Phys.org)—While futurists have generally enthused about the coming age of wearable computing, showcase items among the top vendors have focused on prototypes for heads-up displays. Reactions have included disappointment that smartphone information alternatives in the form of eyeglasses with little screens and oversized goggles have to be so awkward-looking for daily use. In step with the potential success of something other than "goggles," Google has filed a patent on a wearable-computing wristwatch. First filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Google in October 2011, the patent is called "Smart-watch including flip up display," which is proof that Google is at least thinking beyond an eyeglass form factor.
The proposed design is in the form of a timepiece with a clear touchscreen that flips up from the base of the watch to become a secondary display. The wearer would take advantage of the display for notifications transmitted from smartphone to the watch. The device on the wrist, in turn, could be a convenient guide for street directions as well as e-mail notifications.
Not that the idea of a wearable –computing watch has only occurred to the lab workers at Google. There has been the Kickstarter project, Pebble, offering a $150 device promoted as the first watch built for the 21st century. The device offers downloadable watchfaces and Internet-connected apps. Pebble has been designed to connect to iPhone and Android smartphones using Bluetooth, alerting the user to incoming calls with vibrations, as well as to e-mails and messages.
The novel part of the Google rendering is that the flip-up screen would not just show information, but it could also be looked through like a lens. An added strength of its design appeal seems to lie in its GPS and viewfinder qualities.
According to the patent, "the flip up portion is at least partially transparent when in the open position to form the viewfinder and is configured to display the directional information and the geographic location simultaneously."
The patent also says that "The flip up portion can form a viewfinder for the camera when in the open position and be configured to display information regarding an image within the viewfinder."
According to the parent filing, "A a smart-watch can include a wristband, a base, a flip up portion, and a camera. The base can be coupled to the wristband and include: a housing, a processor, a wireless transceiver in communication with the processor, and a tactile user interface in communication with the processor and coupled to the housing. The wireless transceiver can be configured to connect to a wireless network. Further, the tactile user interface can be configured to provide interaction between a user and the smart-watch. The flip up portion can be in communication with the processor and be coupled to the base. Further, the flip up portion can be displaceable between an open position exposing the base and a closed position concealing the base."
Explore further: Apple bowl-headed patent shows wearable computing plans