Emerging Technology

Google secretly purchased smartwatch start-up last year, patents gaze detection and dual display

Andrew Sadauskas /

Google has filed for patents on a number of key smartphone technologies, including gaze detection and hinged displays, as news surfaced the tech giant has secretly purchased a smartwatch start-up previously linked to Apple.

Engadget reports Google’s hardware subsidiary, Motorola Mobility, has filed for a patent on an electronic device designed to “to enfold about an appendage [e.g. arm] of a user”.

Aside from tracking the user’s gaze and a dual-hinged display, the patents also cover touchscreen controls, vital sign and exercise monitoring.

Meanwhile, Gigaom reports the tech giant also purchased a small Android-based smartwatch start-up called WIMM Labs in the middle of last year.

While the start-up had been selling the development kit for its WIMM One, the company suddenly announced it had “entered into an exclusive, confidential relationship for our technology and ceased sales”.

At the time, it had been assumed that Apple had taken over the company, although Google has since confirmed it has taken over the tech start-up.

News of the purchase and patent application comes after Google advertised for a senior director of industrial design to head up a “multi discipline” wearables design team based in Chicago, Illinois in July.

“Specifically, the Industrial Design Team collaborates closely with our internal work partners to create compelling, usable and innovative products that define our brand with over a million consumers worldwide. The wearables design team will lead the establishment of our brand in the massive competitive and growing space of wearable connected products,” the job ad stated.

“The Senior Director of Industrial Design will be based in Chicago, Il. The ideal candidate will provide strategic leadership, champion innovation and institute best practices to create a new world-class wearable’s design group within Motorola.

“Reporting to the Senior Vice President of CXD, the Senior Director of Industrial Design will define and execute design strategies for all Motorola wearable devices.”

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Andrew Sadauskas

Andrew Sadauskas is a former journalist at SmartCompany and a former editor of TechCompany.

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