Apparently, Google and Microsoft's efforts in the AR (Augmented Reality) space haven't gone unnoticed by the US' largest e-tailer. It looks like Amazon has been working on some AR specs of its own.
Amazon is working on some sort of touch controls that aid in the immersion of a "tablet goggles accessory," according to a patent application filed with the US Patents and Trademarks Office.
And the e-tailer is also proposing several embodiments of an HMD (Head Mounted Display) that could be wired or wireless. The goggles could also use a "variable-transparency layer," indicating that Amazon is looking to augment the reality of what wearers see when donning the HMD.
An electronic device "controls the variable-transparency layer to operate in a first state in which the variable-transparency layer is transparent and to operate in a second state in which the variable-transparency layer is opaque," states the patent filing. "The electronic device switches between the second state and the first state in response to a single-touch event detected by the electronic device."
The touch control Amazon is seeking to protect has been labeled an "immersion control tool," which the company proposes could be located on a tablet. The immersion control tool would be used to bring an end to an augmented reality experience or to start one.
"For example, imagine the user is watching a movie on their HMD system 450, and are completely immersed, but holding their tablet device 400," states the filing. "The user could simply touch the screen of their tablet (i.e., touchscreen 402) to clear both layers 452, 454, instantly exposing them to outside world and allowing them to use their tablet normally."
It's unclear how far Amazon has gotten with its AR aspirations. This patent filing focuses on that immersion control switch, but it could have several prototypes of AR goggles in development right now. And, conversely, the company could just be anticipating a problem its Kindle tablets could fix when third-party AR headsets connect to them.
While Amazon's AR aspirations appear to be in the early stages — if they exist — Microsoft is preparing to take its HoloLens HMD on tour. The company is offering developers hands-on and Q&A sessions with its AR engineers with the hopes of spurring software development for HoloLens.