News came out in a Google Press release yesterday, Google to Acquire Nest, that Google had purchased Nest, a company focused on connecting things found in your home to the internet, including the Nest Learning Thermostat, and recently released Protect, a Smoke + CO Alarm.
It’s exciting to see Google venturing out into business lines such as the control and security of house hold items such as alarms and thermostats and lighting and media controls. What does it mean for search and knowledge collection? I don’t think it signals any less interest in running a search engine, but it does show off a growing interest in selling internet related hardware, which is an area of experience that Google has been lacking in, though with devices such as Chromecast and Google Glass, may be really useful in the future.
There’s a lot of press and blog posts circulating around the Web about Google’s multi-billion dollar purchase of Nest, including some speculation that it gives Google a legitimate stance as a seller of hardware.
Yesterday, Google’s CEO Larry Page announced that Andy Rubin would no longer be in charge of the mobile platform Android at Google,, but would be moving on to new challenges at the company. In the announcement, Page urged the entrepreneur and inventor to take “more moonshots please.” Andy Rubin brought Android to Google in 2004, but I’ve been wondering since yesterday’s announcement if we would see a different kind of Android delivered by his hands.
Rubin does have a history of enjoying tinkering with robots, and that seems to be an area that Google is quietly focusing upon. Regardless of whether or not the former Android chief is involved, do we need to add robots to the list of science fiction type endeavors Google is working upon?
I mentioned robots in the post, Inside the Google House of Ideas: 2 Lens Glass, Google Robots, and Smartwatches, a few weeks back after Google was granted 2 patents that involved providing instructions for robots, and enabling robots to make their own decisions (as if the patent covered Asimov’s three rules of robotics). Last October I also wrote about a paper to be presented this May that describes how robots might use an object recognition search from databases located in the Cloud to learn how to handle objects while doing their daily chores.
There are rumors that Google will be opening retail stores sometime in the near future (some rumors point to next year). The question rises though, what will Google feature in those storefronts? Will Chromebooks be a kiosk filler item? Will we see Android based phones? Are Google Glass wearable eye glasses still somewhat far off? Might self-driving cars still face changes in state legislation? Google TV might be a possibility. Home entertainment systems running on Android Hardware could also be shelf stuffers. Or will Google pull out some surprises for us?
Some recent patent filings from Google provide some possible hints at what we might see in Googleshops (or whatever they might be called) at some point, if Google does indeed open retail shops.
Google’s Project Glass seems to be moving closer and closer to reality, with the granting of 7 more patents today. Last week, I pointed out 4 patents related to the project in Google Glasses Design Patents and Other Wearables. Of those, 3 were design patents filed to protect the look and feel of the glasses, and the fourth patent described a way of using an infrared (IR) reflective surface on rings or gloves or even fingernails to provide input for the eyeglass display device. The patents granted today include only 1 design patent, and 6 patents that describe some of the more technical details about how Google’s Heads Up Display might work.
The First patent is a design patent from inventors who worked on the three design patents granted last week, Matthew Wyatt Martin and Maj Isabelle Olsson (Mitchell Joseph Heinrich was a co-inventor of one of the earlier three).
Google was granted three different design patents for augmented reality glasses today, showing slightly different looks from one to the other. The first one includes lenses, while the second and third show variations of the glasses without lenses. A fourth granted patent describes how augmented reality glasses could be used with IR reflective painted markers, on fingernails or gloves or other wearable items, to receive input through the glasses.
The first design patent, Wearable Display Device (US Patent D659,741) shows the following pair of glasses. As a design patent, its purpose is to protect the look and feel of the invention, without providing details of how it might work.
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.
An interesting new patent filing from Yahoo raises a couple of interesting questions about the future of the company. It describes a wearable computing device that could be used in many ways and the patent application provides a number of examples that sound like something out of a science fiction novel I read a year or so ago.
Something else that’s interesting is the apple on sidearm of the virtual goggles above, which the patent filing identifies as a visual power indicator. It looks surprisingly like something you would see on the back of an Apple laptop or on the main navigation bar at Apple.com. I don’t know if that has any significance at all, or if the creator of the image was having fun with the readers of the patent filing.
The pending patent application is:
In these days of increasing mobile phone usage, including phones that have cameras and can connect to the web, I found myself enthralled by a paper which described the path to Yahoo’s Zonetag.
Imagine if you take a researcher who has been studying how people use mobile phones (and mobile camera phones) and team her up with a researcher who has been studying assigning geographic locations to pictures. You’d probably end up with a paper like:
Location and Photos – A Match Made in Heaven… or Hell? (pdf)
We have previously studied social and personal uses of camera phones, and the opportunities that location based image collections afford. We are currently building and evaluating a system that brings these aspects together. This system utilizes and exposes in various ways location data for camera-phone photos.