Google files patent for bone conduction audio in Project Glass
By Chris Wood
January 25, 2013
A USPTO patent application suggests that Mountain View is planning to use bone conduction audio with its Project Glass headset. The patent describes how the tech might work with the headset and includes images seen in previous Glass filings.
Google Glass is an augmented reality headset that allows users to view information such as map directions and social media notifications through a head-mounted display. It also includes a camera with which the user can take pictures and engage in Google+ Hangouts.
While we can't be certain that the device in question is the company's much-anticipated wearable-tech product, it does look highly likely. The description details the inclusion of both a head-mounted display and optical elements, and even includes images used in previous wearable-tech patents from Mountain View.
Bone conduction transmits audio directly to the innermost part of the ear by means of a transducer, usually placed on the bone just in front of the ear. This does away with the need for traditional headphones, has the advantage of increased privacy and reduces the risk of hearing loss.
There's no shortage of uses for bone conduction tech, with some of the more interesting applications being a device that allows scuba divers to converse underwater and a hearing aid implant that bypasses a defective middle ear.
Google's patent describes the technology as using “at least one vibration transducer located on [...] at least one side section.” If just one transducer makes its way into the final design, then it's likely that the resulting mono audio would be more suited to things like notifications than media. Mountain View's patent also suggests that no additional contact point will be required for its application of the tech. Instead, the transducer vibrates the “support structure” of the glasses, rather than directly vibrating the wearer.
Google is yet to announce a solid release date for Glass, but rumors suggest that it's unlikely to hit shelves before 2014.