Microsoft had won a design patent last year for smart fabric products, by trying to incorporate modern computer-based technology into common everyday household fabrics. Microsoft fleshed out this concept further and obtained an electronic smart glove patent.
The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) published a second patent application from Microsoft that showcases a smart glove. The smart glove apparently will have flexible regions of varying stiffness for accommodating both wearability and input/output device performance.
Most of the wearable devices feature a rigid body that helps to house electronic components that are necessary for them to function, such as input and output devices. To better accommodate the wearables to make it truly ‘wearable’ in a sense, most of the devices position the input and output devices at flexible locations.
For a Microsoft smart glove, one or more haptic output devices may be put alongside fingers of the glove, given the flexibility of finger, or even at the back of the hand or the palm.
However, such a device is not without its challenges such as the output energy may become attenuated by the flexible glove due to the mounting of an input device on to a flexible portion. However, Microsoft most likely will be able to overcome this because the design as shown in the patent picture shows us that Microsoft’s invention will have regions of varying stiffness to make room for input/output device.
The patent description reads: In some embodiments, the input subsystem may include or interact with a selected natural user input (NUI) component. Such components can be integrated or peripheral, and the transduction and/or processing of input actions can be processed on or on board.
It should be mentioned that Samsung, Sony, Apple have patents on record for smart gloves, mainly for gaming purposes. Apple is also keen on devising finger clips, and working with Head Mounted Device, instead of gloves.