Jan. 17, 2013 at 8:07 PM ET
A new patent application from Google augments the company's Glass head-mounted computer with a laser projector, which can be used to project an interface on any nearby surface, including the user's own hand.
The application, which can be read in its entirety at the Patent Office's website, describes a fairly simple addition to the Glass system. A small, monochrome laser projector could be mounted on one side of the glasses, and a camera on the other side — which wouldn't be difficult considering Glass already has a camera and laser projectors are quite small and light.
An interface could be projected directly in front of the user — something simple like a numerical keypad or "OK/Cancel" dialog box or something more complex, a full keyboard or game. The user sees it in front of them and can interact with it just like any other button or menu.
If this sounds familiar, it should: Microsoft showed off something similar using a Kinect over a year ago, and the Internet was all abuzz over the SixthSense device shown off as far back as 2009, with which Google's idea shares some similarities.
So what does it add? Well, mounting the system on a pair of glasses is new, and Google also proposes that the projector and camera work together to track your hand and head movements and keep the interface centered. That would make it more usable while walking or otherwise being active.
Google Glass itself is set to ship to developers this month — that is, developers who shelled out the $1,500 price to be among the first to try it. Originally a closely guarded secret, Glass is now being seen more often in the wild, and will almost certainly become a more common sight over the next year.
Devin Coldewey is a contributing writer for NBCNews Digital. His personal website is coldewey.cc.