Ralph Osterhout is an American inventor, designer, entrepreneur, and CEO of Osterhout Design Group (ODG). During his career he has developed a range of products spanning toys, consumer electronics, dive equipment, furniture to devices for the Department of Defense. Osterhout is named as inventor on 260 patents and patent applications. Over the course of his career, Osterhout has developed over 2,000 different products and hundreds of separate product lines for companies ranging from start-ups to Fortune 500s, as well as the government.
Since 2009, Osterhout has been highly focused on developing products and technologies in the head-worn computing field. Osterhout has over three decades of developing head-worn technology, starting with the PVS-7 Night Vision Goggles in 1984 and has created nine different generations of smartglasses.
Osterhout has been referred to as the ‘Real life Q,’ in reference to the fictional character that equips James Bond with secret spy gadgets, after Osterhout designed and developed several gadgets for 007 films.
Ralph Osterhout was born in Seattle, Washington in 1946 and moved to Santa Cruz, California at the age of 1. He attended Soquel High School graduating in 1964 and later went on to San Jose State University graduating in 1969.
A pivotal point in Osterhout’s life was at the 1969 boat show, where he showcased the first of a kind diver propulsion vehicle (DPV) named the MK I. The Navy subsequently purchased the MK II in 1970.  With the purchase of the DPV, Osterhout founded the scuba equipment company Farallon Industries and began a career in product development and design.
Osterhout Design Group (ODG)
CEO/Founder. 1999 to Present.
San Francisco-based ODG was founded in 1999 as a technology incubator. Today, ODG is one of the leading developers and manufacturers of mobile headworn computing devices that offer capabilities such as augmented reality, virtual reality, and mixed reality.
It is reported that in January 2014, Microsoft paid up to $150M to purchase wearable computing IP assets from ODG that are related to augmented reality and headworn computers. The acquisition included over 81 patents with 20 issued patents, and “at least” 75 patents in progress both in the U.S. and internationally. The patents sold to Microsoft covered features such as “See-through near-eye display glasses including a partially reflective, partially transmitting optical element” and “Video display modification based on sensor input for a see-through near-to-eye display.”
Following the IP asset acquisition with Microsoft, Osterhout and the ODG team have published 198 patent applications and have been issued 41 patents on optics, augmented reality, and headworn technology as well as developed three new models of headworn devices including the R-7, R-7HL, R-8, and R-9 Smartglasses.
In December 2016, ODG closed a $58 million Series A funding round with strategic investors including 21st Century Fox. The Series A is the largest ever in the history of wearables, augmented reality, and virtual reality.
Consumer Electronics - CEO/Founder. 1990 to 1999.
Osterhout’s first design for Tiger Electronics was the $20 Talkboy FX that had a tiny solid-state memory and voice-recording chip built into a pen. "It was a breakthrough product in the industry," says Tiger president Roger Shiffman, “because it was the first to bring digital recording technology to low-cost toys.” In 1995, the Talkboy FX sold a million units within 45-day of launch.
In 1996, Machina generated $12 million in yearly revenues. Some of the clients of Team Machina included: Tiger Electronics, Brookstone, Specialized, Sega, Nike, Playmates Toys, Tonka, Yes!, Milton Bradley, Ray-o-Vac, Lockheed Martin, Fisher-Price, Hasbro, Ban Dai and Eddie Bauer. Osterhout's toy product line includes:
Power Penz: Ballpoint pens that fly, shoot, spy, speak and write in invisible ink.
Talk-Boy pens: A line of pens that have keyboards and voice modulation.
CARDCORDER 90: Credit card sized voice recorder.
Yapper: Telephone mounted voice changer. Made for Sega.
Yak Bak, Mega Mouth, Radical Air Weapons (RAW): Made for Yes! and did $38 million in sales its first year.
Defense Contractor - CEO/Founder.1985 to 1990.
Under S-Tron, some of the products Ralph Osterhout designed include the following:
· PVS-7 Night Vision Goggle: Its revolutionary design used new composite materials and weighed less than half as much as the PVS-5A goggles at only 1.5 pounds. It was designed, engineered and tooled in just 3 months and has been used in 3 wars since its inception by the US Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines.
· TD 110 Dual wavelength Laser Aiming System: Allows for successful targeting at 650 meters. US Special Operations Command.
· Closed-Circuit Mixed Gas Rebreather: MK-19 was designed to allow a combat swimmer to lock out of a submarine at depths greater than 300 feet and disable mines. It features a non-magnetic, non-acoustic construction that does not emit bubbles, allowing the swimmer to operate in a stealth manner for >8 hours at a time. US Navy.
• Pilots automatic life-preserver system(LPU-9) is a first of a kind, compact life preserver system that is designed to be worn by Navy pilots and to automatically inflate in the event of a splash down. US Navy.
• Diver Propulsion Vehicles or DPV: US Navy.
• Diver Active Thermal Protection System or DATPS: This unit circulates warm water through a closed-circuit, combat diver’s suit in order to maintain a constant body temperature by burning magnesium at 5,000 degrees, controlled by a micro-controller and thermister array. The unit is used for surveillance, sub and mine counter-measures operations in freezing temperatures. Special Operations Command.
Sport Scuba Diving Equipment and Consumer Products - CEO/Founder. 1976 to 1990.
Tekna knives and flashlights are valued by outdoor enthusiasts and scuba divers for their innovative designs and ruggedness. In 1990 Ray-o-Vac purchased Tekna and continued to produce these items. Tekna flashlights and knives are now owned and produced by Tektite Industries.
Products Osterhout developed as founder of Tekna include:
• Tekna- Knife: A favorite among divers because of its versatile design and solid, one-piece skeleton construction.
• Tekna-Lite: The original tactical flashlight and the first light to have a battery indicator. These lights have been dropped from a 7-story building, run over by an 8-ton dump truck and operated from the top of Mt. Everest to 2,000 feet (600 m) below water, whilst surviving the abuse. The flashlight assembly was featured on the TV program How Its Made.
• Tekna Wilderness Edge Survival Knife: A utility knife that has many components in it, from saw blades to a fishing reel. These are standard issue under the seats of Japanese Defense Forces Planes.
• Tekna Computek: A first of its kind dive computer that precisely calculates the divers depth, maximum depth, bottom time, surface intervals, tank pressure, remaining air time, and decompression status that are displayed pictographically.
• Tekna Dive Vehicle: A diver propulsion vehicle that was injection-molded.
• Tekna Mini-Piloted Scuba Regulator: This ultra miniature diver’s regulator caused a revolution in regulator design by performing No. 1 in Navy tests. It’s the only regulator that actually got easier to breathe at increased depth.
Films and television
Osterhout designed and built equipment that appeared in or on:
- James Bond: The Spy Who Loved Me, propulsion system on submarine car and chase mini-subs.
- James Bond: Never Say Never Again, underwater vehicles that transported bad guy’s atomic warheads.
- How It's Made: Season 8 Episode 3 - Flashlights
- ABC World News Tonight
- "What's on the Horizon" - AWE 2016 Keynote
- Nasa Is Developing Wearable Tech Glasses for Astronauts
- D.I.C.E. Summit
- The Electric Playground Interview 
- Entertainment Gathering Conference
- National Conference, Industrial Designer’s Society of America
- Stanford Design Forum
U.S. Headworn and Augmented Reality Patents
|1||9,658,458||See-through computer display systems|
|2||9,658,457||See-through computer display systems|
|3||9,651,789||See-Through computer display systems|
|4||9,651,788||See-through computer display systems|
|5||9,651,787||Speaker assembly for headworn computer|
|6||9,651,784||See-through computer display systems|
|7||9,575,321||Content presentation in head worn computing|
|8||9,547,465||Object shadowing in head worn computing|
|9||9,529,199||See-through computer display systems|
|10||9,529,195||See-through computer display systems|
|11||9,523,856||See-through computer display systems|
|12||9,423,842||Thermal management for head-worn computer|
|13||9,401,540||Spatial location presentation in head worn computing|
|14||9,400,390||Peripheral lighting for head worn computing|
|15||9,366,862||System and method for delivering content to a group of see-through near eye display eyepieces|
|16||9,341,843||See-through near-eye display glasses with a small scale image source|
|17||9,329,689||Method and apparatus for biometric data capture|
|19||9,299,194||Secure sharing in head worn computing|
|21||9,286,728||Spatial location presentation in head worn computing|
|22||9,285,589||AR glasses with event and sensor triggered control of AR eyepiece applications|
|23||9,229,234||Micro doppler presentations in head worn computing|
|24||9,229,233||Micro Doppler presentations in head worn computing|
|25||9,229,227||See-through near-eye display glasses with a light transmissive wedge shaped illumination system|
|26||9,223,134||Optical imperfections in a light transmissive illumination system for see-through near-eye display glasses|
|28||9,182,596||See-through near-eye display glasses with the optical assembly including absorptive polarizers or anti-reflective coatings to reduce stray light|
|29||9,158,116||Temple and ear horn assembly for headworn computer|
|30||9,134,534||See-through near-eye display glasses including a modular image source|
|31||9,129,295||See-through near-eye display glasses with a fast response photochromic film system for quick transition from dark to clear|
|32||9,128,281||Eyepiece with uniformly illuminated reflective display|
|33||9,122,054||Stray light suppression for head worn computing|
|34||9,097,891||See-through near-eye display glasses including an auto-brightness control for the display brightness based on the brightness in the environment|
|35||9,097,890||Grating in a light transmissive illumination system for see-through near-eye display glasses|
|36||8,964,298||Video display modification based on sensor input for a see-through near-to-eye display|
|37||8,814,691||System and method for social networking gaming with an augmented reality|
|38||8,488,246||See-through near-eye display glasses including a curved polarizing film in the image source, a partially reflective, partially transmitting optical element and an optically flat film|
|39||8,482,859||See-through near-eye display glasses wherein image light is transmitted to and reflected from an optically flat film|
|40||8,477,425||See-through near-eye display glasses including a partially reflective, partially transmitting optical element|
|41||8,472,120||See-through near-eye display glasses with a small scale image source|
U.S. Utility Patents
- US Patent No. 4523379 Knife with retractable sheath
- US Patent No. 5672108 Electronic game with separate emitter
- US Patent No. 5495357 Apparatus and method for recording, transmitting, receiving and playing sounds
- US Patent No. 4466283 Divers console with knife and sheath
- US Patent No. 4876632 Flashlight with battery life indicator module
- US Patent No. 4738044 Light beam target designator
- US Patent No. 4753117 Decompression and air consumption computer
- US Patent No. 5313557 Pen recorder
- US Patent No. 5019951 Spotlight with adjustable handle
- US Patent No. 4734832 Spotlight with interchangeable handle
- US Patent No. 6390640 Lighted mask for underwater divers
- US Patent No. 4821156 Flashlight with focusing beam assemble
- US Patent No. 7064498 Light-emitting diode based products
- US Patent No. 4794803 Decompression and air consumption computer
- US Patent No. 6055032 Plush toy with selectively populated display
- US Patent No. 7186003 Light-emitting diode based products
- US Patent No. 11742697 Wireless Lighting Control Methods and Apparatus
- US Patent No. 11742697 Methods and apparatus for enhancing inflatable devices
- US Patent No. 4203150 Rechargeable modular component light with quick-disconnect connection
- US Patent No. 3828611 Portable underwater indicating instrument for divers
- US Patent No. 3844281 Customized mouthpiece retainer for an underwater breathing apparatus
- US Patent No. 3978537 Swim fin including means for maintaining foot and leg in fixed relationship
- US Patent No. 4017925 Swim fin including means for restricting ankle movement
- US Patent No. 4136689 Customized mouthpiece retainer for an underwater breathing apparatus
- US Patent No. 3929548 Method for customizing mouthpiece retainer for an underwater breathing apparatus
- US Patent No. 4219017 Pilot regulator
- US Patent No. 4107996 Pressure gauge
- US Patent No. 3933049 Decompression indicating instrument for divers
- US Patent No. 4066077 Mouthpiece retainer tabs
- US Patent No. 3888127 Portable underwater indicating instrument for divers
U.S. Design Patents
- D380501- Hand-held electronic game housing
- D376822- Hand-held electronic game housing
- D364648- Hand-held electronic game housing
- D367890- Hand-held electronic game housing
- D364641- Pen recorder housing
- D301752- Spotlight
- D302046- Spotlight
- D287105- Combined packaging and display container
- D300112- Pocket knife with removable cap
- D288898- Retractable knife
- D304154- Foldable knife
- D336688- Flashlight
- D457974- Accent light
- D457667- Accent light
- D458395- Accent light
- D457669- Novelty light
- D312168- Fin sock
- D330265- Adjustable lamp
- "Secretive Military Tech Company Announces Augmented Reality Glasses For Consumers". Forbes. Retrieved 2016-03-25.
- Berger, Warren. "Adventures in the Toy Trade: Ralph Osterhout knocks himself out to make bots for tots - and brats, spies, and troublemakers". Wired. Retrieved 2009-02-19.
- "Child's play". Newscientist.com. Retrieved 2013-11-15.
- D.I.C.E. Summit. "2009 D.I.C.E. Summit Schedule". The Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences. Archived from the original on February 6, 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-19.
- Newcomb, Doug. "The Spy Wares of a Real-Life Q". MSN. Retrieved 2009-02-19.
- Knafelc, ME (1988). "Unmanned and Manned Evaluation of a Prototype Closed-Circuit Underwater Breathing Apparatus, the EX 19". Navy Experimental Diving Unit Technical report NEDU-5-88.
- Larrabee, Eric. “Knoll Design”, Abrams, Harry N Publisher, 1990 - ISBN 0-8109-1220-1
-  Archived July 16, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
- "A trio of visionaries will explore the future of augmented reality". VentureBeat. 2017-04-24. Retrieved 2017-05-19.
- Tilley, Aaron. "Military Tech Company ODG Raises $58 Million To Grow Its Augmented Reality Business". Forbes. Retrieved 2017-05-19.
- mlsentertainment (2016-10-30). "ODG CHANGING THE WORLD OF AUGMENTED REALITY – PROJECT HORIZON BEST IN SHOW – IN AWE WITH RALPH OSTERHOUT". mlsentertainment. Retrieved 2017-05-19.
- "Osterhout Design Group unveils high-end enterprise augmented reality glasses". VentureBeat. 2016-01-04. Retrieved 2017-05-19.
- "Osterhout Design Group Just Raised $58 Million—We'll See Why at CES 2017". WonderHowTo. Retrieved 2017-05-19.
- Hollister, Sean. "Meet the 'Real-Life Q' Who Builds Secret Spy Gadgets for a Living". Gizmodo. Retrieved 2017-05-19.
- "James Bond's real-life 'Q' to show off new connected IoT tech". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 2017-05-19.
- "Diving Equipment Authorized for U.S. Navy Use (ANU)" (PDF). Supsalv.org. Retrieved 2013-11-15.
-  Archived July 10, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
- "Qualcomm and ODG Announce the First Augmented Reality Smartglasses Powered by the New Snapdragon 835 Processor | Qualcomm". Qualcomm. Retrieved 2017-05-22.
- "ODG's Next Smart Glasses Bring Powerful Augmented Reality To New Markets". Fast Company. 2017-01-03. Retrieved 2017-05-23.
- Lunden, Ingrid. "Microsoft Paid Up To $150M To Buy Wearable Computing IP From The Osterhout Design Group". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2017-05-23.
- "Microsoft acquires patents for wearable technology worth up to US$150". Technology Record. Retrieved 2017-05-23.
- Tilley, Aaron. "Military Tech Company ODG Raises $58 Million To Grow Its Augmented Reality Business". Forbes. Retrieved 2017-05-23.
- Berger, Warren. "Adventures in the Toy Trade". WIRED. Retrieved 2017-06-05.
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- , Osterhout, Ralph, "United States Patent: 5313557 - Pen recorder"
- , Osiecki, Scott W., "Hand-held analog recorder"
- , Lam, Clive; HK & Ralph F. Osterhout, "United States Patent: 5672108 - Electronic game with separate emitter"
- "Osterhout Design Group unveils high-end enterprise augmented reality glasses". VentureBeat. 2016-01-04. Retrieved 2017-06-05.
- Hollister, Sean. "Meet the 'Real-Life Q' Who Builds Secret Spy Gadgets for a Living". Gizmodo. Retrieved 2017-06-05.
- Berger, Warren. "Adventures in the Toy Trade". WIRED. Retrieved 2017-06-06.
- Hollister, Sean. "Meet the 'Real-Life Q' Who Builds Secret Spy Gadgets for a Living". Gizmodo. Retrieved 2017-06-06.
- Inc., KMK Computer Group,. "Tektite-TEKNA History, TEKNA Products, 000-HIS". www.tek-tite.com. Retrieved 2017-07-06.
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- "how its made s8 ep3- flashlights". YouTube. 2007-11-14. Retrieved 2013-11-15.
- "Television News Archive: Display Complete Broadcast". Tvnews.vanderbilt.edu. Retrieved 2013-11-15.
- "Invention is the Mother of Creativity Part 1 - IGN Video". Video.ign.com. 2009-03-11. Retrieved 2013-11-15.
- "Invention is the Mother of Creativity Part 2 - IGN Video". Video.ign.com. 2009-03-11. Retrieved 2013-11-15.
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