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Microsoft files augmented reality patent application

A newly discovered patent application shows that Microsoft is developing its own augmented reality glasses.

Patent application 20120293548 was submitted to the US Patent and Trademark Office on 20 May 2011 and is described as a "system and method to present a user wearing a head mounted display with supplemental information when viewing a live event."

The specialised headgear would provide users with real-time information about particular objects and individuals within their field of vision.

This information will be "presented in a position in the head mounted display which does not interfere with the user's enjoyment of the live event."

Unlike Google's Project Glass, which is intended for everyday use, it seems that the Microsoft glasses will be optimised for particular events, such as a football match or a play.

This means that users viewing an event in the flesh will also gain a medley of statistical information, such as that delivered by television coverage, without having to turn away from the action - the best of both worlds.

According to the application, the variable transparency of the lenses will be key to the device's performance. The glasses would be "capable of generating display elements on various portions of a user's display while remaining portions of the head mounted display are transparent to allow the user to continue to view...occurrences within the live event."

The display will also be able to turn completely opaque, allowing video displays, like instant replays, to be fully viewable.

A handful of sensors, including a camera, microphone, gyroscope, magnetometer and Wi-Fi connectivity will need to be built into the glasses. In order to keep the device's design as minimal as possible, most of the processing work is likely to be completed by remote computer servers.

Microsoft says the glasses could be operated through either a wrist-worn computer, eye movements or voice commands.

The application does not outline any potential launch plans, though Google is set to deliver Project Glass to developers next year and make it available to consumers by 2014.