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.

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Yahoo Exploring Virtual Reality?

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.

Patent illustration of a pair of goggles that are a wearable computing device.

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:

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Yahoo’s Studies on Mobile Camera Phones and Geo-Referencing Images

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.

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Google Improving Mobile Search

Making it easier to make entries on a mobile device

As smart phones, and web-connected PDAs become more and more common, it makes sense for search engines to consider how to make it easier for people to use those devices while searching the web.

Handheld and mobile devices can be difficult to enter queries into.

Google has come up with some ideas to make searching easier on a phone or PDA.

They involve a type of auto complete and spell checker that can predict what you might enter before you finish typing, or tapping, or speaking.

This type of predictive data entry gets its information from dictionaries that can be stored locally, or remotely. Those dictionaries can be built using information from a collection of email, or corporate documents, or from web searches.

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Nokia Browses Open-Source

Nokia seems to be doing some interesting things with open source software these days, and had two releases that show a interest in open source.

The first one I noticed today was a new site from the mobile phone giant – Open Source Nokia.

The second was the announcement of an Open-Source Browser

If that’s not proof that handhelds are coming on strong, Nokia also released three new Multimedia computers today.

How will the future of search be shaped by smarter mobile phones? Something to keep in mind.