Leveraging IP to identify new players challenging the norm in smart eyewear technology

smart eyewear technology

Smart eyewear combines imaging and wireless connectivity in eyewear. The technology collects information when individuals view objects by using sensors. It is capable of controlling or recovering data from other instruments or computers and can be powered by speech, touch or thoughts.

Therefore, to get a general impression of new entrants in this space, we conducted a study with PatSeer. We ran a specific query with IPC, CPC classes and keywords. In order to cover all kinds of eyewear, we used keywords such as spectacles/glasses and shades/goggles as well as classes which include optical apparatus, speech recognition, speech processing, wireless communication network services, virtual reality, data transfer and interactions with the human body. Thus, the final search query revealed 2000+ patent families for smart eyewear. More specifically, we learned that the top players in this field are Snap, Meta Platforms, Samsung Group, Bose Corporation and Luxottica Group.

Analysis of new entrants

In the chart below, you can see the new entrants that we’ve identified and their filing trends in the last 4-5 years.

Patent filings of assignees vs. priority year in smart eyewear technology

Figure 1: Patent filings of assignees vs. priority year (2017-2020)

To further understand the types of patents filed by these companies, we classified them broadly into 3 categories, namely:

  • Audio glasses – They look like conventional glasses or sunglasses. They have sensors and speakers behind your ears from which they can send audio/music using a Bluetooth connection on your smartphone.
  • Social glasses – They feature a pair of speakers and cameras located around the lenses. You can listen to music, answer phone calls as well as capture photos and videos with these glasses.
  • Smart assisted reality glasses – Assisted Reality (AR) glasses have the same features as the aforementioned types of glasses. Apart from those capabilities, these glasses can deliver information in real-time for navigation, incoming phone calls, text messages or visual search results like weather conditions.

Patents filed by assignees as per categories in smart eyewear technology

Figure 2: Patents filed by assignees as per categories

You can view the detailed distribution of patents for these 3 categories below:

So as you can clearly see, most of the assignees are currently filing patents related to audio glasses and only a few of them are intent on developing smart assisted reality glasses. Many of them like Solos Tech Ltd, Goolton Technology Co Ltd, iFlytek, NextVPU Shanghai Co Ltd and Essilor International are already in the field of ophthalmology, wireless devices and eyewear devices. Others like Xian Realtech Industry Tech Partnership Enterprise Ltd, Korea Electronic & Telecom Research Institute have recently entered this rapidly evolving technology space.

Recent developments by other players

Apart from Samsung Group, Meta Platforms et al, these are the companies who have made headlines recently:

  • Titan recently developed smart glasses called Titan EyeX that can play music, track steps and much more.
  • Apple is rumored to have been exploring virtual and augmented reality in order to develop AR/VR headsets in the next 2-3 years.
  • Xiaomi has announced new Xiaomi Smart Glasses features for phone calls, photography and navigation.

Therefore, it’s quite evident that smart eyewear is a fast-growing market with immense potential. Bigger companies who are already active in eyewear are expanding their existing IP portfolios to include smart capabilities; while others with complementary products in wireless and audio are also entering the market. We have highlighted the new players who could challenge the currently leading companies such as Bose, Snap, Samsung and Meta Platforms with their research and innovation in this space.

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