You may eventually be able to operate your TV, refrigerator, or garage door through Google Glass.
Published today by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, a Google patent application called "Wearable Computer with Superimposed Controls and Instructions for External Device" describes a technology in which a Google Glass wearer could control a real object via a virtual display.
Beyond merely showing you details about an object, Google Glass would present a virtual control panel to let you interact with that object.
As described in the patent, you could "control the target device, provide input to the target device, receive instructions for operating the target device, receive status information regarding the target device, and/or receive other information related to the target device."
Some of the target devices cited in the patent include a refrigerator, espresso maker, TV, garage door, alarm system, lighting system, and a copy machine. Touching a virtual button on Google Glass' control panel would then send the corresponding instruction to the device, as the patent describes:
As one example, a virtual control interface for controlling a refrigerator (such as adjusting a temperature set-point) may be superimposed upon the refrigerator surface. In order to control the target device, the wearer may attempt to touch the virtual control interface at the apparent distance of the virtual control interface. For example, the wearer may touch a location on the refrigerator where a virtual button in the virtual control interface appears. The wearable computing device may recognize this touching motion as a control instruction and transmit the control instruction to the target device.
The technology could even kick in automatically with items like a garage door. On its own, Google Glass could send instructions to open or close your garage door based on your location. As you start to pull into your driveway or approach your garage on foot, Google Glass would tell the door to open. And after you leave the garage, the glasses would tell the door to close.
Of course, the system wouldn't work with just any old refrigerator or garage door. The target device would have to be a smart one, outfitted with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or near-field communication to allow it to interact with Google's high-tech specs.
For that reason, this technology isn't likely to pop up anytime soon. Manufacturers have rolled out items like smart refrigerators. But they're still extremely pricey. Until such products become cheaper, we'll likely be stuck opening our refrigerators and garage doors the old-fashioned way.