Engineering company Dyson has revealed that it invented smart glasses in 2001, more than a decade before Google unveiled its now-iconic augmented reality glasses.

The Dyson Halo - secret codename N066 - is a portable, head-mounted, wearable computer, featuring a full colour 3D, heads-up display "which worked as a communications device and PC."

Sketches show the design for the headset, which had the secret project name N066. Credit: Dyson

Features of Dyson's 'Halo' headset:

  • Two plane mirrors reflected the display of two tiny monitors, mounted by the temples, onto a prism, creating an illusion of a projected, translucent, 10-inch display around a metre in front of the wearer

  • A screen showing a series of applications similar to the smartphones of today

  • A virtual personal assistant, similar to Siri, could read out emails and interpret basic voice commands

  • A keyboard could be projected in front of the user so they could type and write emails on any surface

  • The headset could be used in audio-only mode using voice commands and text-to-speech, enabling users to drive while using the computer.

A design of the 'augmented reality headset' which could be folded for travel. Credit: Dyson

Revealing the design on Dyson's 21st birthday, the company said that it put the smart glasses invention on hold after three years of research and development "so that Dyson engineers could focus on expanding Dyson technology into the USA."

It added that elements of the technology are now being used in future research projects.

Inventor James Dyson wearing one of the prototypes. Credit: Dyson

Two other inventions by the company that didn't make the cut were the Diesel Trap - air technology that could be applied to diesel engines to clean the air – and the Dyson Fuel Cell – a compact to sit at the heart of a fuel cell to increase performance while reducing size.