Samsung is a giant company with far-reaching fingers, prodding everything from washing machines and dryers to smartphone and smartwatch possibilities. On April Fool’s Day last year, we saw Samsung announce a joke product, called Samsung Fingers, a smartphone-glove, with the display on the palm. The idea was fun and definitely Samsung would have the moxy and funds to try, but sadly it was just a joke for the sake of the day. But, according to two patents filed in both South Korea and the United States, Samsung might have something in mind that works on the hand instead of the wrist and phone.
The two patents, one granted at the end of January of last year and one granted the first day of this year, involve technology and designs for a smartglove, or a pair of smartgloves actually, that allow for input using the hands within and passing that input into the gloves sensors and using it as input for another device entirely. Recall those laser-based projected keyboard, that shoot out a light-only keyboard, and it registers where you typed by sensing the disruption in the field it’s projecting? It’s kind of like that, from what I’ve read in the patent filings. Just, instead of needing a surface, the recognition of ‘key pressed’ will be registered by the glove itself. That’s mainly the 2015 patent, though. The other patent, the one from early 2014, depicts a material that is conductive, and has the ability to relay information and ‘this finger is bent this much / is bent this amount’ feedback to a connected mobile device.
Now, what these two patents could be is one of two things. First, they could be coincidentally related, leading to separate possible concepts and products. Or they could be directly linked, with the older patent being for the glove itself, with the more recent one describing what the glove and material would be used to make possible / work. But, what should be noted is this: the gloves from the 2015 patent reference a company, who is coincidentally at CES in Las Vegas at the moment, called Zigbee. They work to provide a global wireless standard, and that standard is one that the recently-patented gloves could use to connect and interface with the mobile device they are providing input for. Zigbee specifically is working towards the ‘connected home’ initiative, where everything in a house can be controlled by a remote control or smartphone, and maybe now even a pair of gloves.
With all this in mind, we have no idea if Samsung will ever even use these patents, but since one was granted just a week ago, we cannot even guess when the product could start to appear within Samsung in prototype form. Is this something that the nerd would want, the geek would envy, and the ‘it’s not compatible with my device’ people would hate? Or is it something that will remain a concept until people are comfortable with the connected lifestyle that many of us are accepting just by bundling parts of our lives together wirelessly? If Samsung does release these smartgloves, would you consider picking up a pair? They seem to be good for text entry only, according to the recent patent, but could wider applications be something that help them to succeed as a product? If you want to, check out the patents here or head to the USPTO to find them yourself (they’re numbers 1 and 59, for the record). Let us know down below.