Can Intel deal or biometrics save Google Glass?
02 December 2014 15:10 GMT

An Intel-powered version of Google Glass is due for release in 2015.

In the same fortnight that Intel revealed it will be powering a new version of Google Glass, a patent has been filed for a solution that would add iris, retina or eye-vein scanning capability to the wearable device.

In the biometric patent, filed by former Google company Motorola Mobility on 20 November, it is proposed that a "imager" be added to the inside of Google Glass lenses that would capture eye feature images of one or both eyes.

“The user can then be authenticated based on a comparison of the eye feature images to a biometric template of the user. The eye feature may include iris images, retina images, and/or eye vein images.”

The patent writes in depth on the benefits of adding authentication to the device:

“A wearable device can provide high-fidelity authentication of the wearer, and the user-owner can seamlessly and confidently access financial accounts, conduct point-of-sale transactions … [U]pon authentication, each user would see his or her personalised interface and content.”

The patent, which sketches numerous examples of how iris scanners, infra-red lights and other solutions could be incorporated onto the device, also details how eye-scanning could render Google Glasses useless after theft. The use of facial imagery is listed as another biometric authentication option.

Just days after the patent was filed, chipmaking giant Intel revealed in the Wall Street Journal that it would become the engine of a new Google Glass version to be released in 2015, replacing Texas Instruments.

Intel plans to promote Glass to companies such as hospital networks and manufacturers, while developing new workplace uses for the device, according to one of the people, noted the magazine.

Since Brian Krzanich became Intel’s chief executive in May 2013, the firm has renewed a focus on wearables. Products include an ultra-small x86 processor called Quark, a tiny circuit board for wearable devices called Edison and a chip called SoFIA that combines a processor with cellular communications.

The patent and Intel deal have surfaced as media speculation was growing over the fate of the project. A Reuters report called “Early Fans Are Abandoning Google Glass In Droves” on 14 November wrote that Glass app makers had stopped working on them.

However, Google Glass head of business operations, Chris O'Neill, insisted to the news agency: “We are as committed as ever to a consumer launch. That is going to take time and we are not going to launch this product until it’s absolutely ready.”