Wearable technology like Google Glass or smartwatches in many tech experts’ minds is the next frontier in computing. For every story you read about the yet-to-be-released device being banned, you read about another industry that could benefit from the technology. Never mind that you can’t wear Google Glass behind the wheel of a car in the U.K. or as a guard at Guantanamo Bay, there will be a number of places to don them and potentially improve your productivity.

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Foxconn sold a number of technology patents in the wearable arena to Google

Today, Foxconn, the Taiwanese company also known as Hon Hai Precision, announced that it had sold a number of technology patents in the wearable arena to Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG). Presently, Foxconn Technology Co., Ltd. (TPE:2354) is producing Google Glass for Google at a factory it built last year in California. In a bit of irony, it is a rare occasion where a “western” company has bought intellectual property from Asia, generally it’s stolen in the opposite direction.

The patents were related to head-mounted displays, through which virtual images can be superimposed on a real-world view, Foxconn Technology Co., Ltd. (TPE:2354) said. Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) has yet to comment. Foxconn of course, is also a large supplier to Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. (LON:BC94) (KRX:005930) among others but has recently begun working with a patent portfolio consultancy to consider new ways to utilise its intellectual property.

Samsung is expected to unveil its Galaxy Gear smartwatch later this month

Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. (LON:BC94) (KRX:005930) is largely expected to unveil its Galaxy Gear smartwatch later this month, Baidu.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:BIDU) has also said they have plans to enter wearable tech, while Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is expected to release a smartwatch next year. With those companies getting involved along with Google’s presence there already, wearable tech promises to become the next battlefield in patent litigation as well if the spate of smartphone patent disputes presently playing out around the world is any indication.

Foxconn Technology Co., Ltd. (TPE:2354) said the patents were “commonly used in aviation and tactical/ground displays, engineering and scientific design applications, gaming and video devices as well as training and simulation tools”. Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

For all the bad press Foxconn Technology Co., Ltd. (TPE:2354) gets each time one of its workers jump off the roof to their death, it’s easy to forget that they are considerably more than an iPhone factory.

Hon Hai does “a substantial amount of engineering development on their own”, said Donald Boles executive vice-president at MiiCs Partners,  “They have a very substantial patent portfolio. They are more than just an assembler.”

MiiCs Partners is a U.S. based firm working with Hon Hai to manage some of its intellectual property.