Google, like many companies, invent and patent new technologies and purchase others patents. The patent discussed below is entitled Gaze Tracking System and is patent #8,510,166. They also purchased related patents as well. Links to relevant articles and the patent itself are below.
As a computer science major, programmer, and a patent attorney, I used to write and prosecute these types of method patents. As an entrepreneur that used to have a banner and email network, I particularly like this patent and the implied uses. Check out the first claim, if you read just what I bolded below it may be easier to understand.
1. A method comprising:
receiving scene images from a head mounted gaze tracking device capturing external scenes viewed by a user wearing the head mounted device, the scene images received at a server via a network;
receiving gaze direction information from the head mounted gaze tracking device along with the scene images, the gaze direction information indicating where in the external scenes the user was gazing when viewing the external scenes, the gaze direction information received at the server via the network;
executing an image recognition algorithm on the scene images to identify items within the external scenes viewed by the user;
generating a gazing log tracking the identified items viewed by the user;
performing latent pre-searches on at least a portion of the items viewed by the user to generate latent search results, wherein the latent pre-searches are automatically triggered while the associated items are in the user’s peripheral view and without affirmative requests on a per search basis by the user; and
caching the latent search results.
It sounds like they will determining what you are looking at, save that information, and then display advertisements based on what you are looking at.
Capture Your Emotional State and Advertise to You!
This is great stuff, the kind of things that advertisers dream of. Take a look at this diagram and the process they describe. They intend to receive pupil dilation information from the glasses. Then they will infer your emotional state while you view things. They will then store your emotional state and store what you were looking at.
What does this mean?
Over 13 years ago I had a company and we had email lists of individuals interested (they opted in) in various topics. For instance they may have opted in to receive deals and information about sports, or business, health, and many other topics. We knew how many emails they received, in some cases whether they opened them or not, and whether they clicked on links. Therefore we were able to gauge a persons interest in certain types of advertisements on many different levels. There is what they say they are interested in, such as sports. Then there is their behavior such as clicking a sports related link, or a link related to something else. Often times behavior is very different than what someone says.
That is where this patent becomes so interesting. Imagine if an advertiser could say the following and advertise only to this subset of people. “Google, I would like to give an advertisement to everyone who looks at a red convertible car and they like the red convertible car, or even better if Ford says I want to show an advertisement to everyone that likes a red convertible Mustang as it drives by.”
The google glass process identifies that person 1 sees a red convertible Mustang but based on pupil dilation it is determined they do not like it, therefore no advertisement is shown. But person 2 that sees the car is shown an advertisement for a local Ford dealership showing a red convertible Mustang and lease terms, as well as the fact that the dealership is only .6 miles away and has a deal for this weekend only.
A person wearing the glasses sees a red mustang convertible and their pupil dilation shows they like it, then Chevy shows a red convertible Camaro with lease terms at a local dealership.
Honestly, the list goes on and on.
* the examples above are my own interpretation of how it may be used, I could be completely wrong
Purchasing Related Patents
Per the Reuters article Google has purchased additional related patents to protect their advertising. “Taiwan’s Hon Hai Precision Industry said it sold Google Inc part of a patent portfolio involving the superimposition of virtual images on real-world photos.”
Assuming there is a large enough group of people wearing google glass or related technologies, this type of “right ad at the right time” could be just that much more effective.
References and Good Articles
U.S. PTO: Patent # 8,510,166
Google Patent Search: Patent # 8,510,166
Reuters: Google buys patents on virtual image technology from Hon Hai
NY Times: How Pay-Per-Gaze Advertising Could Work With Google Glass