Google Acquires Glasses Patents

Last week, Google announced that they would be developing a pair of augmented reality glasses that would present informational displays to users based upon voice and motion commands, at their Google Plus Project Glass page. The announcement was accompanied by a video showing a mockup demo of how the glasses might work:

Google acquired three patents from former Indy 500 driver Dominic Dobson’s Motion Research Technologies, Inc., on March 30th, according to the USPTO’s patent assignment database. The assignment was recorded by the patent office as taking place on April 12th, 2012. The patents appear to have gone up for sale originally in March of 2011. A followup post on the Project Glass page responded to questions as to whether Google’s Glasses might work with prescription glasses. Interestingly, one of the patents acquired describes how it might work with eyeglasses as well:

A screenshot from patent 7,631,968 B1 showing a display device clipped on to a pair of glasses.

A screenshot from the same patent shows information being transmitted to a display from a number of different types of devices, from cell phone to GPS, volt meter to gas meter, PDA to Laptop to compass:

This screenshot from the patent indicates that they could be used with a range of different types of devices.

This part of a glasses display device, seen in one of the patents, is a mirror housing which provides additional light to the display. It looks somewhat like an attachment that is shown on the demos of the Google Glasses:

A mirror housing attachment as part of a display device that can add additional lighting to a display

With Dominic Dobson’s past history as a professional racer, racing 7 Indy 500s, I didn’t find it to be a surprise that one of the images from one of the patents looks like a racing helmet:

A screenshot from the patent which shows something like a racing helmet, with a display device attached

The 3 acquired patents are:

Multi-use eyeglasses with human I/O interface embedded
Invented by Dominic Dobson
Assigned to Motion Research Technologies, Inc.
US Patent 7,648,236
Dobson January 19, 2010
Filed: September 8, 2008

Abstract

An multi-use eyeglass apparatus is disclosed. The apparatus generally comprises a frame, a display device, at least one sensor and a transceiver. The frame may have a plurality of lens openings defining an optical path. The display device may be mounted to the frame and configured to display an image to a user wearing the frame, wherein the image is located outside of the optical path.

The at least one sensor is generally mounted to the frame and configured to sense a response from the user. The transceiver may be mounted to the frame and configured to (i) receive the image in a first receive message from external of the frame and (ii) transmit the response in a first transmit message to external of the frame.

Cell phone display that clips onto eyeglasses
Invented by Dominic Dobson and Peter K. Purdy
Assigned to Motion Research Technologies, Inc.
US Patent 7,631,968
Granted December 15, 2009
Filed: November 1, 2006

Abstract

An apparatus generally including a first housing and a second housing is disclosed. The first housing may have (i) one or more first clips configured to removably secure the first housing to a frame of eyeglasses, (ii) at least one sensor configured to sense a response of a user wearing the eyeglasses and (iii) a transceiver configured to (a) receive an image in a receive message from external of the apparatus and (b) transmit the response in a transmit message to external of the apparatus.

The second housing may be (i) attached to the first housing, (ii) positionable before a lens opening of the eyeglasses on a side of the lens opening opposite the user and (iii) configured to display the image to the user through the lens opening.

Ambient light display and system for displaying data
Invented by Dominic Dobson, David Andrew Weber, David Joseph Perry, John David Patton, Matthew A. Rhoades, Keith Bryant Payea, Peter Purdy
Assigned to Motion Research Corporation
US Patent 7,675,683
Granted March 9, 2010
Filed: September 22, 2005

Abstract

A system for displaying data includes a display unit and a transmitting unit. A display unit has a housing that defines an ambient light window and a viewing window. A data display is positioned inside the housing, and optics are included for guiding light from the ambient light window through the display and out the viewing window.

Google did also acquire a patent for a Multi-function display apparatus, which might play a role in the development of Google’s Glasses. They also acquired a number of patents from Outland Research last fall, which included a patent for a Portable music player with synchronized transmissive visual overlays

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.

Robert Scoble did run into Google Founder Sergey Brin wearing a demo pair of the Glasses a little over a week ago, but in his instagram comments noted that Brin wouldn’t let him try the glasses because they were “still too buggy.”

Google Glasses may be one of the devices that we search through in the future, and interact with others on the Web. It appears that Google is still working upon making them work, and it’s possible that what we see in the demo video from Google isn’t what we end up with, but the Project Glass team appears to be actively soliticiting suggestions on what people would like to see from the Glasses.

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32 thoughts on “Google Acquires Glasses Patents”

  1. Looks like a cool idea. I guess the next step is implementing a good interface so that the user can control the displays on the lens and begin browsing the internet just by blinking his eyes :-) It will happen somehow, someday.

  2. Thanks Bill,

    As your listed video tells the whole picture, and the gadget is fully loaded with evolutionary concept.

    Google is just awesome.

  3. Very cool idea, but a bit overwhelming, not? Still struggling to come to terms how ‘futuristic’ the world is we are living in! For me this still seems very much out of a science-fiction movie. However, that doesn’t change the fact that I would love to own one of these one fine day.

    Thanks for sharing, Bill!

    Clarissa

  4. You know, when I first heard of this I became fascinated by how the design may have come to be. My Google search brought me here. I feel like a kind in a candy store with this article. And I actually understand most of the concepts now. Thanks.

  5. I have a feeling this is going to be huge. I think I’m going to go apply for a patent where this can be an implantable chip and it will project naturally in your eye. At this rate I think we can know that out soon.

  6. Thanks for the post, is there anything Google can’t do, this is one of the most exciting new products in development at the moment and it all looks good at the moment, but I am interested to see how well these glasses will work in the real world with real people, I think it may take them a few attempts to get this one right, have also heard that Oakley the big sunglasses brand are currently developing something similar to these glasses who’s will be better? We will just have to wait and see.

  7. I’m actually horrified by these glasses but feel like it could be a thing of the future the same way the iPhone made smart phones ubiquitous in the US.

  8. I like this a lot, it’s a small step in to the future. Can see myself relaxed in my armchair doing excel reports in those.

  9. It’s like a visual Siri for people that wear glasses. I think it could be a lot more powerful if it incorporated eye tracking. Combined with blue-tooth motion sensitive gloves I suppose you could even type sitting – standing – or stretching. You could actually live in a world like the Tom Cruise movie “Minority Report” opening new windows and tabs and clicking on buttons that only you could see. Unless they were networked using GPS so several people could see the same virtual displays. Will Google be the Bell Labs of the future ?

  10. Google continues to innovate products not related with the web search industry.
    The question is did they release the video to create buzz around their brand or they really see a market opportunity in the near future?

  11. Hi Eliseo,

    I was surprised to see pictures of Sergey Brin wearing a demo pair of the glasses. I suspect there’s a lot of work to do with them.

    The swimming goggles patent describes being able to control some of what you see by different body movements that you might make. So for instance, tilting or moving your head a certain way might turn something on or off. We all blink our eyes without even thinking about it, so I’m not sure if that’s a good choice. :)

  12. Hi Rajesh,

    Google’s video is supposedly a concept video of what Google might develop with the glasses. I can’t imagine that the working prototypes of the glasses can do what we see in the video at this point.

  13. Hi Clarissa,

    There is a science fiction novel set about 10 or so years from now by an author named Vernor Vinge where people wear contact lenses that display information from their computers. In the book, Google is still working on its book scanning project, but instead of using a machine that flips pages, they just grind the books up into pieces, and then scan what’s on the scraps of paper which are pieced together by a computer algorithm that matches the edges. It seemed pretty realistic.

  14. Hi Paul,

    Thank you. I suspect that there may be some more pieces of the puzzle out there that we might not be aware of yet, and I’m keeping my eyes peeled for some more patents.

  15. Hi Ryan,

    Might have to hurry with that chip patent. I’m guessing there may be some people working on something similar. Didn’t Edison beat his light bulb competitor to the patent office by an hour or so?

  16. Hi Mili,

    I took a peek at some of the Oakley patents, and it does look like they’ve been working on some kind of eyeglasses display that can send data to the lenses of those glasses. It’s possible that they might even have a head start on Google. But I suspect they don’t have the data sources that Google does. Then again, if they partnered up with someone like Apple, who provides data to Siri of the kind that seems similar to what we see in the video, who knows?

  17. Hi Brett,

    One night you go to sleep, and the next morning when you venture out into the world, everyone else is wearing a pair of glasses like in the video. I can see that.

  18. Hi Magnus,

    The idea of doing spreadsheets via a pair of glasses like these actually frightens me a little. Hopefully we’ll have a more advanced version of excel by then which will respond well to voice commands. :)

  19. Hi Mal

    I was reminded a lot of Siri, too. Google actually has at least a couple of eye tracking patents that they picked up in one of their patent acquisitions a few months ago.

    With an accelerometer and other sensors and voice commands, I’m not sure how much typing you might need to do. Google’s been pretty busy working on voice recognition, too.

    Shared virtual displays might be pretty interesting. Maybe not GPS since it doesn’t work too well indoors, but some kind of wifi triangulation might work.

  20. Hi Vasko,

    A number of the things Google has been working on that don’t seem very related to search are related to creating more opportunities to show ads, like Android, Google TV, A rumored Google tablet, the Google Fiber project in Kansas City. Hopefully they can keep ads off the glasses.

  21. The idea of glasses like these is really futuristic, and, looking at some of the earlier comments, I can agree…they are a little scary! When will we start having trouble distinguishing between what’s reality and not reality…?? Great post, thanks for sharing the updates!

  22. Hi Molly,

    Thank you. The demo video from Google still uses the same kind of metaphors and interfaces that we see on a computer screen. They aren’t presenting an interface that transforms the world in a way that makes it hard to distinguishes that real from the unreal. At least not yet. I’d image that Google doesn’t want people walking into the sides of buildings, or walking across busy street intersections without looking both ways first.

  23. Nice reading about a very interesting subject.
    Just like their Driverless Car this i also a very fun way to gain a foothold in a market that they are normally not in. I think it’s a smart way to make people even more aware of, just how innovative the Google company is.
    Besides this, people will probably drive in driverless cars in the future anyway, and therefore it’s also smart to be the first company with a perfect technology to control these cars, via their improved Google Maps.

    But i’m not sure if it would be safe to drive around with those glasses, unless you have a driverless car. :)

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