Google Acquires Swimming Goggle Patent

Somewhat of an odd acquisition for Google, I noticed in the USPTO assignment database a recording of a granted patent for a Multi-function display apparatus, invented by Harry Linden, which was granted back in 1996. The abstract for the patent tells us that the patent covers:

A display apparatus secured to a temple or bridge contacting portion of an eyewear, the apparatus including means for monitoring the wearer’s heart rate, lap position, laps completed, time elapsed, etc. An image of the collected data is transmitted into the wearer’s field of view by means of a fiber optic element and projected at a focal point within the focusing range of the wearer’s eyes.

a screen shot from the patent showing someone wearing the swimming goggles, with a cut-out closeup of the monitoring apparatus in one of the goggle lenses.

This may not be the most significant acquisitions of intellectual property from Google, especially with the recent announcement of Google’s $900 million opening bid for around 6,000 patents from Nortel’s patent portfolio, but it does show that Google’s founders follow their own interests and take them very seriously. Google’s self driving cars were a dream of Google founder Lawrence Page since his days as a doctoral student.

Sergey Brin is an avid swimmer and diver, in part to help stave off the possibility of Parkinson’s Disease. In a 2007 biography piece, Sergey Brin’s father was quoted as saying that when he asked his son if he were taking any advanced classes at Stanford, Sergey responded, “Yes, advanced swimming.” So, perhaps this acquisition isn’t that odd.

The goggles seem pretty interesting and potentially very useful for the health conscious and for competitive athletes as well. The patent also notes that an impact sensitive switch built into this system could be set so that it turns on upon the impact of a dive into the water, or that it could use an infrared signal “attached to a starters gun, bell, or buzzer” for other athletic activities such as running.

I did find a story about an earlier version of the goggles from inventor Harry Linden, but I don’t know if the ones described in this patent were ever developed. It’s possible that they have been. I wouldn’t mind a pair myself.

While Google’s main focus still seems to be on search and on mobile devices, I don’t think we should be surprised in the future to see co-founders Brin and Page following their muses and bringing us things that might even be wilder than self driving cars and electronic goggles that can monitor pulse rates and blood pressure and elapse time.

With the departure of Eric Schmidt as CEO of Google, and what seems to be more of a focus upon Google engineers running the show, we may start seeing some interesting and unexpected things coming out of the Googleplex in the future.


Author: Bill Slawski

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