The WSJ reports that Google has bought a number of display patents from Foxconn, a company best-known for making iPhones and iPads for Apple.

The Apple and iPad assembler didn’t specify a value for the deal or expound on details, except to say the patents sold to Google included head-mounted technology that allows a virtual image to be superimposed on a “real-world view” … 

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Google is believed to be planning to launch Glass as a mass-market product next year. It recently dropped ‘Project‘ from the name, added support for Glass apps to the Play Store and took a stake in Himax, a chipmaker specialising in display driver chips and with particular expertise in head-mounted displays.

Little is yet known about Google’s plans for the public version of Glass. The $1500 Explorer Edition puts it into pretty pricey territory for a gadget that, for most people, currently falls into the category of a cool toy rather than a must-have, and some have suggested the product would need to hit a significantly lower price-point to achieve the kind of mass-market adoption Google appears to expect. There has been speculation that lower-cost displays might be one option.

An estimated 60-70 percent of Foxconn’s work is for Apple, but Apple’s moves to diversify its supply chain have led the company to explore other revenue streams, including the possibility of launching products under its own brand. Selling patents in hot technology does, as the WSJ observes, seem a slightly counter-intuitive move.

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