Last year, Google proposed ‘Project Glass’; which potentially integrates technology into glasses. This could mean the equivalent of a smartphone in glasses and with possible hands-free operation controlled with head tilts and voice activation. The glasses are expected to be able to overlay augmented reality information about the user’s environment, take photos and video and store files.

Google has recently applied to patent a way to use ‘Project Glass’ without headphones. The patent application filed by Google is entitled ‘A wearable computing device with indirect bone-conduction speaker’.

Sound will be played via ‘bone-conduction tech’, rather than ear buds. This means that sounds could be relayed to the wearer through indirect bone conduction where skull vibrations deliver the noise. Only the wearer would be aware of these sounds. While sound conducted by bone already exists, the subject of Google’s patent is the application to a computing device.

A recent test report by the Federal Communications Commission describes an augmented reality headset that plays video and audio to a wearer and includes ‘a vibrating element’. The glasses were tested in November 2012.

Other hands free and spectacle based technologies by major companies are also in the pipeline. In May 2011, Microsoft applied for a patent for digital glasses that deliver baseball statistic to fans watching a live game. Motorola Solutions are about to launch a head-mounted, voice activated computer for specialist working environments where hands free operation is vital for users such as paramedics and builders.

To see Google’s patent application, click here.