Google has applied for many patents to use in conjunction with its Google Glass project, as well as purchased patents from other companies, but buying them from Hon Hai Precision Industry, better known as Foxconn, the same company that builds Apple’s iPhone and iPads is gutsy! These patents, according to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), refer to “Head Mounted Technology” that can create a virtual image “superimposed on a “real-world view.” By buying up these patents, Google is circumventing any court litigation down the road and possibly preventing another company from developing the same type of product.
Hon Hai said it doesn’t know whether Google plans to use the patents for Glass, adding that the patents are commonly used in aviation and tactical/ground displays, engineering and scientific design applications, gaming and video devices as well as training and simulation tools.
Google has also bought shares of other companies to help in the development and providing parts for Glass. In July, Google purchased a 6.3-percent share of Himax Display (HDI), a Taiwanese chip designer that specializes in Liquid Crystal On Silicon (LCOS) micro-displays which are used in the production of Google Glass.
It has been widely speculated that Foxconn might actually build Glass for Google in a new U.S. facility in Santa Clara, California, although Hon Hai Chairman Terry Gou has dismissed those reports. It could be that Google is trying to firm up their business relationship with Hon Hai by buying their patents or just a way of shoring up their intellectual property if they have to shop around for another manufacturer.
Google Glass, Explorer Edition, is available only to a relatively small group of developers and testers at this point, but Google expects to make them available for sale to the general population sometime in 2014. By owning as many patents as possible, Google, is building up a reserve to battle any lawsuits that make creep up along the way – remember, Apple may eventually join the “Glass” revolution.