Google Glass and its rival smart glasses: everything you need to know

Sony SmartGlass

Sony SmartGlass patent

Sony has a history of producing wearable tech, having launched the HMZ 3D visor and three generations of Smartwatch, most recently the Smartwatch 2.

Like Samsung and Apple, Sony has yet to make any official announcement on whether there's a SmartGlass on the horizon. 

Way back in 2012, Engadget reported that Sony had a patent filing for a set of smart glasses capable of transmitting messages and content to other wearers, connecting to a smartwatch, and reading visual tags such as QR codes. Further patent filings have detailed a set of glasses with dual displays and stereo headphones that could create a very immersive augmented experience.

Microsoft smart specs

Microsoft's AR glasses

Microsoft looks set to leap aboard the smart glasses bandwagon, with reports that it's currently testing prototypes for "web-connected eyewear." But what form will that eyewear take? The smart money's on an Xbox One accessory.

In November 2012, an ambitious AR project leaked from Microsoft suggested that the company was already working on smartglasses in 2011. The patent talked of the possibility of overlaying detailed info while viewing a live event. Think stats above a sportsperson, lyrics next to a pop star, or contact details next to recognised friends. Given that the patent was filed by Kathryn Stone Perez, executive producer of the Xbox Incubation unit, it appears likely that Microsoft's smart glasses are intended to work with the Xbox One, rather than as a pair of specs that you'll wear out and about.

Backing this up, a leaked Microsoft document from 2010 showing the road map for its next-gen Xbox suggested that the company was working on "Project Fortaleza," a set of AR-equipped glasses that could be used to play games on the console. Although Fortaleza didn't launch alongside the Xbox One, a patent for the AR specs reveals that the glasses would gather "eye-tracking information, depth information [and] facial recognition information" in order to navigate menus and invite players into multiplayer games.

Could Fortaleza launch later down the line? It'd certainly give Microsoft another tool to play with in its ongoing rivalry with the Sony PS4.

Oakley? Likely

Oakley's MP3 sunglasses

If there's one problem with a lot of these patented designs and products, it's the question of style. Persuading even the most eager of geeky types to wear Google Glass as much more than a novelty has been something of a challenge for Google.

Who better, then, to tackle this than the company who was first to make sunglasses seriously cool since the likes of Ray-Ban? In April 2012, the CEO of Oakley revealed that his firm would have its own competitor to Project Glass, and that they'd actually been working on refining this technology for around 15 years.

Oakley has already integrated an MP3 player with a pair of sunnies, and owns a raft of patents relating to heads-up displays that could give it a unique advantage when battling it out with the usual tech brands.