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HolidayBuyer's Guide

Patents on wearable tech for fashion and function

Projection onto 'display hand'

Is this Apple's iWatch?

Pedal power gets technical

Measuring power on the slopes

Connected snowboarding

Wearable game controller

Google Glass, the futuristic augmented reality glasses from Google, are a reality -- but no one really knows if the world is ready for them. Too geeky for your parents, too creepy for the luddites, and too dorky looking for the image conscious -- who are they for?

It seems like the world is on the edge of a wearable technology revolution. The Internet of Things is bringing the power of sensors, communication, and interoperability to just about everything, and it's happening fast. From clothes, to sports, to our very own bodies, tiny, wearable computers are becoming part of the world.

The cyborg-like Google Glass project will connect us with a vast library of information, allowing us to navigate maps, chat with friends thousands of miles away, and look up virtually anything from an enhanced heads-up display. Apple has visions of flexible-wrist displays and technology-enhanced sports, and Microsoft is using electrical signals from muscles to control video games.

It's all part of a new world that's building function into fashion. Take a look at some of the recently filed patents that you could soon be wearing.
Caption by / Photo by US Patent Office
Patent application No. 20130016070 from Google, published January 13, describes "Methods and Systems for a Virtual Input Device." A pattern for input, such as a keyboard or numeric keypad, can be projected onto a user's "display hand," and a forwards-facing camera can then detect when the user selects items off the projected keyboard.

Wearable technology is making us the computer as well as the canvas.
Caption by / Photo by US Patent Office
In a patent first filed in August 2011, but just published, we see what is rumored to be Apple's iWatch, a wearable computer. The application, titled "Bi-stable spring with flexible display," shows a flexible display that is worn on the wrist and might connect to devices through Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.
Caption by / Photo by US Patent Office
Graphics from the Apple patent for "Activity Monitoring Systems and Methods" dated March 31, 2009, shows sensor integration that goes directly into bikes, measuring speed, distance, and other factors for serious enthusiasts, just as a mounted computer accessory add-on might measure these statistics today.
Caption by / Photo by US Patent Office
The sports-monitoring invention also provides a method of measuring the amount of "power" a user absorbs during the day. A motion sensor attached to a ski boot can measure the force jarring the user.
Caption by / Photo by US Patent Office
Graphics from the Apple patent for "Activity Monitoring Systems and Methods" dated March 31, 2009 shows sensor integration for sports equipment including snowboards.

Equipment would then be capable of recording speeds, distance and duration of jumps, miles traveled, and vertical feet achieved for the day.
Caption by / Photo by US Patent Office
This wearable game controller which picks up electrical signals generated by muscles was patented by Microsoft, and may be used to wirelessly control a device like the Xbox 360.
Caption by / Photo by US Patent Office
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