Google Patents Seeing with your Hand

It’s not related to search, or to SEO, but it’s one of the more unusual and interesting patents that I’ve seen come out of Google in a while, and Google Founder Sergey Brin is listed as one of the co-inventors. Google was granted a patent today on a device that could allow someone to view their surroundings through their hands or other parts of their body, with using a detector that might be channeled to a wearable display.

This new patent might in part explain why Google acquired the patent I described in “Google Acquires Swimming Goggle Patent.” While the swimming goggle patent is interesting in its own right, and I’d love to see a version that could be used when jogging or bicycling, it’s also the kind of wearable viewing display that could be used with this alternative viewing device.

As a device on a glove, a control for the viewing device might be built into the glove so that a predetermined motion might trigger the use of the viewing detector. The patent allows for the viewing device to be located elsewhere on a body as well, so for example, the idea of having eyes in the back of your head might not be unreasonable.

This visual sensor might include a camera or other viewing device, could be configured to detect light from infrared or ultraviolet lith or x-rays. It could have a three-dimensional spatial range and possibly perform image processing and analysis on recorded images. It might also have a stabilizing function like many modern cameras do to stablize images. Also like a camera, it might come equipped with a flash, or other method of illumination.

An alternative example described in the patent would include a motion detector and an accelerometer and/or a gyroscope. Motions might be useful in running applications such as word processing, running a spreadsheet, or an email application.

Another description of a different implementation of this device could include more than one detector, so that the relative motions of the detectors could be used in applications such as communicating in American Sign Language or simulating typing upon a keyboard.

The patent provides more details on how a wearable sensor like this could be used to visually and in other ways. The patent is:

Seeing with your hand
Invented by Liang-Yu Chi, Robert Allen Ryskamp, Luis Ricardo Prada Gomez, Harvey Ho, and Sergey Brin
Assigned to Google
US Patent 8,009,141
Granted August 30, 2011
Filed: March 14, 2011


The disclosure describes methods and systems for gathering and conveying information, for example, such as with a hand of a user. In one embodiment, the method may include using a detector to record a series of images of an environment and detecting a predetermined motion by comparing two or more images in the series. The method may include selecting a function based on the predetermined motion and triggering the function.

In another embodiment, the method may include using a first detector to record a first series of images of an environment and using a second detector to record a second series of images of an environment.

The method may include detecting a predetermined relative motion by comparing one or more images from the first series with one or more images from the second series, and selecting and/or triggering a function based on the predetermined relative motion.


Author: Bill Slawski

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