Future SEO and Paid Ads with Google Glasses?

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Google Glasses have the potential to make a growing number of types of visual queries that are possible under Google Goggles into an important aspect of the future of search and SEO. They also may make advertising using location based services much more effective. Are you planning ahead?

Over the last three weeks, we’ve been seeing a stream of patents granted to Google involving their heads up display device, Project Glass. These include design patents, and utility patents that hint at things like a touchscreen on the side of the glasses, sonar sensors built into them, a visual display of sounds around the wearer of the glasses including direction and intensity. I wrote about the first two batches of patents in Google Glasses Design Patents and Other Wearables and More Google Glasses Patents: Beyond the Design. Google was granted another related patent this past week titled Methods and devices for augmenting a field of view this week, which “augments” the field of view of human beings by helping things that might be of interest stand out, even if they are beyond the normal view of a person in terms of distance or outside of a 180 degree peripheral viewing field.

A slightly different looking pair of Google Glasses, with an array of sensors across the bottoms of each lense.

A pair of the same glasses showing the Chrysler building on one side, and textual information about the building on the other

In addition, the glasses might provide more detailed information about these “objects of interest” that may be pointed out by the glasses, as seen in the bottom image above, which provides details about the Chrysler building someone might be viewing with the glasses. Where might the information about these objects come from? Might they be powered by something like Google’s Knowledge Base search results? The patent doesn’t make that connection for us, but it does tell us that, “a device for augmenting a field of view of a user may make use of a database that stores a plurality of objects of interest for the user.”

Google also acquired a handful of augmented reality glasses patents in April, and a great number of indoor/outdoor wireless patents from Terahop earlier this year that could be useful in making it possible that Google glasses can provide indoor location based services in places like airport terminals, train and bus stations, shopping malls, and other large public indoor spaces.

What hasn’t been discussed much publicly on many posts and articles about Google’s Project Glass is how it might be used with Google Goggles, and the many different kinds of visual queries that it may be possible to perform through that initiative. In The Future of Google’s Visual Phone Search?, I wrote about the kinds of queries that could someday be possible under the Google Goggles project. Some of them are already available. Here’s a list:

  • Facial recognition search
  • Optical Character Recognition (OCR) searches for text in images, signs, etc.
  • Image-to-terms searches, which may recognize objects and search about them
  • Product recognition searches, recognizing two dimensional images such as book covers and DVDs,and three dimensional images such as furniture
  • Bar code recognition searches
  • Named entity recognition searches, providing information about specific people, places, and things
  • Landmark recognition searches, recognizing actual landmarks and possibly images advertised on billboards
  • Place recognition searches, aided by geo-location information provided by something like a GPS receiver
  • Color recognition searches, and
  • Similar image searches, which look for images similar to the one that you’ve used as a query

Seems like the “objects of interest” database described in the newly granted Google patent could easily be powered by the visual queries from Google Glasses.

New Google Goggles Patent

Google published a new patent application this week that ties together location information with object recognition to find a “canonical document” in response to a visual query.

Imagine that someone uses a photo feature in their camera built into their phone, or a pair of Google Glasses to use in a search. It could be a landmark, the sign of a business, a poster, or even a product box. Google might use optical character recognition to read text within the image, and find matching documents, or a canonical (or best) document to return in response to that querY. The pending patent is:

Identifying Matching Canonical Documents in Response to a Visual Query and in Accordance with Geographic Information
Invented by David Petrou, Ashok C. Popat, and Matthew R. Casey
US Patent Application 20120134590
Published May 31, 2012
Filed: December 1, 2011


A server system receives a visual query from a client system distinct from the server system. The server system performs optical character recognition (OCR) on the visual query to produce text recognition data representing textual characters, including a plurality of textual characters in a contiguous region of the visual query. The server system scores each textual character in the plurality of textual characters in accordance with the geographic location of the client system.

The server system identifies, in accordance with the scoring, one or more high quality textual strings, each comprising a plurality of high quality textual characters from among the plurality of textual characters in the contiguous region of the visual query. Then the server system retrieves a canonical document having the one or more high quality textual strings and sends at least a portion of the canonical document to the client system.

Some important aspects of this approach:

The geographic location from where the search is performed becomes part of the query, which means that this could be tied into Google Maps very easily.

Both textual and non-textual elements within a picture would have queries performed upon them, so images that are parts of logos for businesses, for example, could be an integral part of this search as well.

Google would try to find a canonical, or “best” document or web page to return in response to a visual query of this type.

It’s possible that algorithms like those used for Google Maps might be used to find that canonical web page result in response to this type of visual query, or that elements of algorithms like those used for navigational searches (like a search for [ESPN] most likely being a request for the ESPN home page) may also play a role.


How does someone do “SEO” for real world objects and places and signs? That’s one of the future challenges of SEO.

We may see more businesses including different types of bar-codes on their street signs and products and marketing images, and/or their URLs. We might also see more people making sure that their store front signs are cleaned up and easier to read by people and search engines.

Businesses that haven’t claimed their listings in Google Maps, or Google + pages, or whatever hybrid of the two that Google is working upon these days should consider claiming both, and making them as rich and complete as possible.

I’m not sure yet how Google might work these types of queries into Google Analytics yet, but it will be interesting to see something that tells us about visual query referrals.

Google also acquired technology from Ex Biblio last year that allows people to take pictures of articles in print to use to find bookmarkable online versions, take pictures of forms and auto-fill the fields on those forms, and perform similar activities as well. It’s likely that those types of features would work well with Project Glass.

Of course, paid search and display advertising will also undergo a transformation as well, not only in the way that those advertisements are presented, but also through the location-based services aspects of offers and advertisements available. Chances are that you will be able to turn on alerts for coupons and offers with your glasses that would give you the option of seeing those as you approached a store that might offer sales and discounts.

The Virtual post it notes technology that Google acquired last year might also be a useful addition to Project Glass that could trigger notes from friends, public service messages, and advertisements as you journey to certain places as well.

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19 thoughts on “Future SEO and Paid Ads with Google Glasses?”

  1. Pingback: Future SEO and Paid Ads with Google Glasses? | Inbound.org
  2. Google needs to patent Coupons for Glasses and Current Offers and Sales for glasses. Example: I walk into a store and it indicates a sale on a shopping list I created before leaving home or today’s deals… and what would go with what I purchased suggestions…such as buy a coke with the fries and hamberger…

  3. Hi Mark,

    Google has published a few pending patents involving things like shopping lists, and making price comparisons easier. There is actually one that may be very close to what you’re suggesting, but it wasn’t “assigned” to Google when published, so it’s not easy to search for and find at the USPTO. I’m going to have to hunt it down.

  4. Very cool patent and I as well think we will see them within the next year. It will be funny when we are walking around and when you look at someone, you see their Google+ account in the top part of your lens.

  5. Where will it all stop? Some great ideas, and augmenting humans like BORG… but do we really need all of that to distract us from the real world? To make us more dependent on technology, to keep us away from human beings and animals? I would probably love this article and the ramifications even more if I didn’t know that they only paid 3% tax and are a profit driven company, not just here for our benefit. There will always be a pot of money at the end of everyone of their projects. User beware …

  6. Hi Jonathan,

    Thanks. I’m not sure that Google would show you a link to anyone’s Google Plus profile as you’re walking around with your Google Glasses on. But, if they’re a connection in Google Plus, that might be a different story.

  7. Hi Bruce,

    I don’t think the intent is to distract us from the real world. Many of the inventions I’ve seen associated with these glasses augment reality rather than replacing it with some alternative. We’re not getting some world of warcraft type overlay on the world around us. Most comapnies are profit driven companies, and even nonprofits need to make money to survive.

  8. you have to admit that there could be a lot of money in this… imagine walking/driving down the streets and you look at a store and it shows your some of the deals being offered that day/week/month (whichever)… that’s whole different level of advertising but could definitely effective! hopefully there is some kind of app support lol

  9. “How does someone do “SEO” for real world objects and places and signs? That’s one of the future challenges of SEO.”
    i guess QR code usage will grow and grow.
    one more option might be a variation of the Google images search. Instead of dragging an image to the search field the glasses would be the “uploaded image” and the results would be thumbnails.

  10. Very interesting read. I am curious how Apple’s latest updates and announcements (map, etc.) will affect Google’s efforts towards better integration of their products. They do a good job, but better things are right around the corner.

  11. What will they think of next?! These glasses sound like an amazing way to increase transparency in business even more than the internet has already. Businesses will really have to step it up with the details if/when this new technology is released. Thanks for a great article!

  12. Hi Paul,

    Yes, I think that location based services and advertising will be a key to the success of these glasses. Those types of alerts could actually be pretty useful if you wanted to see them. If you didn’t, I suspect that you could probably turn them off pretty easily.

  13. Hi cmsbuffet,

    I don’t think that QR codes would be essential to the success of the glasses. Optical Character Recognition would probably work just fine in most cases. There would definitely be some kind of tie-in with Google Image search as well. My list of different kinds of visual queries that someone could perform would fit right in with how the glasses could be used.

  14. Hi Sergeo,

    I’m not sure that Apple’s new Maps and other approaches will provide quite the level of information that Google has at their disposal.

  15. Hi Lisa,

    Thanks. Imagine stores making their inventories available online for the glasses to see, restaurants showing their menus and specials and wait times, and tying in reservation systems? There are a lot of other possibilities as well. Should be exciting.

  16. I know that 3D glasses for HDTVs haven’t been all that successful, so I wonder what the take-up rate will be for these. I guess it all boils down to how comfortable people will be wearing the glasses, whether the glasses cause eye strain and headaches, as the 3D glasses have been known to do, and whether they will offer a web-surfing experience enjoyable and interesting enough for people to want to continue using them.

  17. Bill,

    What’s your view on Site Wide footer links which is natural (with my brand name as anchor text)?

    That is.. if I place a sitewide “Powered by MyWebsite.com” footer link at the bottom of blogs designed by me. Will it raise any red flag?

    – Mahesh

  18. This is such a refreshing take on The Glasses! Right now, I am just stoked that Google has this and I am not thinking about the connection of the glasses and SEo or whatever so your opinion is really something to talk about. I will not be surprised that if in the future, this will be (or any other gadget for that matter) be a part of a massive marketing campaign.

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