Google Acquires Patent for Eye Scan Security and Augmented Imagery

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On Friday afternoon, I took a walk to the auto repair shop working on my car, about a mile and a half down the road. A phone alert made me aware of a Google Now card springing up to give me directions to the shop, and telling me that it would take me less than a minute to get there. I guess Google Now wasn’t looking at the accelerometer on my phone, or it would have realized that I was moving too slowly to be driving. I couldn’t help but think though how Google Now could be a feature that would work well in the heads up display that Google’s working on under the name Google Glass.

A screenshot from the patent showing three parts: a pair of glasses, a camera scanning someone's eye, and a view through the glasses showing a part number for a car.

As we wait to see what kinds of features might be incorporated into Google Glass, it appears that Google acquired an eye scan security patent first filed a dozen years ago, granted in 2006, and recorded at the USPTO on Thursday. The patent was originally filed by Agilent Technologies, transferred to a company in Singapore in 2006, and then to Intellectual Discovery Co., located in South Korean. Google was assigned the patent on November 16, 2012, and the transaction was recorded at the USTPO on January 8, 2013.

There are two different aspects to the device described within the patent. The first is an optical scanning unit that can be used for imaging different aspects of a wearer’s eyes to capture identification information, as an eye scan security featured, The second aspect of these glasses is as a personal viewing device that enables wearers to see overlay images from a connected computer system, augmenting what a viewer sees.

For example, someone looking through these lenses at an automobile or aircraft might see a part number of a part they might be viewing. The patent tells us that it could be used in other fields as well, such as those in surgical or medical environments, as well as in “virtual reality systems.”

The security aspects of this system might be required as security to allow a person to be authorized to use this viewing system, without having to enter a password.

The patent is:

Personal viewing device with system for providing identification information to a connected system
Invented by Rene P. Helbing, Richard C. Walker, Pierre Mertz, Barry Bronson, and Ken A. Nishimura
Assigned to Agilent Technologies, Inc.
US Patent 6,735,328
Granted May 11, 2004
Filed: March 7, 2000


A personal display system having an ocular scan unit for generating user identification information and an interface for conveying user identification to a connected system.

Developer versions of Google Glass have been announced to be available for developers in 2013.

The ability to look at the world around us, and see related information to things like part numbers for vehicles sounds like something out of the Terminator movies, and was something I was expecting to be a feature of Google’s augmented reality glasses. It shouldn’t be a surprise that Google is looking for older patents that might cover aspects of augmented reality glasses that might be incorporated into the devices.

One competitor for Google Glass was unveiled at the recent CES conference this past week. It’s likely there will be a number more.

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20 thoughts on “Google Acquires Patent for Eye Scan Security and Augmented Imagery”

  1. What I am waiting for is the day when we combine the efforts of Google (for searching and mapping), SIRI (for audio interaction) and some sort of daily planner software that is plugged into all of your electronics and that basically manages your schedule for you so that it can schedule, for instance, my truck maintenance at the Toyota dealership when I am leaving work and heading home…

    SIRI: “Mark, your truck is due for maintenance, shall I book it now, there is a 3:30 opening?”

    Me: “Yes SIRI, book it now.”

    SIRI/Google: “The closest dealership is 5.4 miles away. Please proceed 1.5 miles north and exit at Exit 54 N.”

    Me: “I would rather play angry birds. Google can drive.”

    SIRI/Google: “Confirmed. Taking over driving now. Please remove your hands from the wheel.”

    Me: “Thanks. SIRI. Please place an order for my favorite Panini at the waiting area, I want it hot when I get there.”

    SIRI: “The order has been placed and confirmed.”

    Me: “Perfect. Also, order me a cold beer with that. Google can drive home.”

    Siri: “NO…”

    Me: “???”

  2. I think augmented reality will become huge for businesses in the future. I don’t really see regular customers walking around with something like Google Glass. Maybe only during driving though. Same with Siri; I hardly ever see anyone on the street, train or subway use it. But maybe that’s a line humanity will eventually cross naturally…

  3. I just stumbled upon your site and I really like some of your blog posts! I am living in Raleigh, NC at the moment. I am a musician as well and recorded one of my first records in Blacksberg, VA. Cool place.

    Any ways, wow, this will be cool to see.. And we thought texting and driving was bad! ha ha

  4. Google is really doing great to get to know more about the users by digging in about what exactly is going on in person’s mind by looking at his eye movements etc., to give the best possible result to the user and also to get themselves to find new revenue channels. This is really what is called innovation.

  5. Who can stop Google? That’s a real question. After software, their next move is to combine it with hardware to be even more connected. It is both creepy and exciting because we are going to see fantastic application for medical industry but also everyday life like looking for your favourite store. Can’t wait to see that especially if Google plan to release its documentation to Developers in 2013!

  6. Mark is right. Google has the potentially to really make our lives interesting. Too bad, technology like this specifically, can be extremely difficult to the mainstream.

    There were a few layering technologies that have fizzled over the last five years. Many, based on mobile apps. I think one of the big challenges is making it extremely useful and deliver an undeniable value to more than just one segment.

  7. I am still wrapping my head upon the consequences of this development, the driverless cars, the G-Glasses and a Siri-like interface and the first comment by Mark is funny but I could just imagine how Siri could develop a backbone to say ‘NO’… is this The Singularity future we are all looking at? Hell no! shades of Skynet…

  8. They will make it easier than logging in with the keyboard, and you will be talking to your computer more and more. Interesting times ahead for sure. If the internet is a brain, your eyes become the internet’s eyes too, wow!

    But will Google use this for good? Hard to say, but I can imagine only supplying google analytics organic searches to people who have logged in with a retina scan, or valuing searches from people who are logged in this way more.

  9. Wow, that’s an interesting development by Google. That will definitely get the apocalyptic-minded people freaking out. Now Google will be able to track your Identification via eye scans.

  10. Hi Steve,

    The eye scan would make it possible for you to sign in without logging in, and if you wanted to log in to Google instead, I’m sure that option would be available. There are seriously bigger things to worry about.

  11. I, for one, welcome our Google overlords 🙂

    Seriously, remember traveling just a decade ago? You’d plan your route and mark it on the map, then you’d have to watch for your exits (hopefully you have a navigator with you) and pull over (likely in an unsafe stop) to re-route yourself when you invariably missed one. And if you got hungry or had to use the bathroom, you tried to stay close to the freeway so you could find your way back.

    How things have changed! Now your phone tells you when to turn, and if you miss an exit or want to go exploring it helpfully re-navigates for you. This is just one example of these little boxes making our lives easier.

  12. This is awesome, ever since I saw the first “teaser” type trailer for project glass I have been eagerly waiting an update, or a cancellation notice haha.

    As a huge video gamer I am looking at probably some of the best video game experiences to be had with augmented reality glasses. I can only imagine what it will be like.

  13. There is still a lot of progress to do in Google Glass technology, but soon it will be a reality. If we spend so much time looking at our smartphones nowadays, I can only imagine with something right in front of our eyes.

  14. I just stumbled upon this site, and absolutely love the post. Wow, Google glass sounds too good to be true, can’t wait! 🙂

  15. As always, this kind of stuff is good in one way and frightening in another. How much information now exists without the knowledge of the person in question? We all know that this sort of big brother watching happens, but it’s too often activated by default, or hidden in setting somewhere.

    I can see this working well with travelling abroad, but google passport? I hope not!

  16. As much as I admire the concept, it concerns me a little that we could end up like the film Minority Report where GPS and augmented reality will enable advertisers to force intrusive video commercials right down our eyeballs at any given proximity!

  17. Interesting article! I have to agree with some of these comments, I think that Glass will be something used by businesses and employees alike, and probably even designers and other similar things, but not out in public. I see Google Glass as being more of a utility tool rather than a socially worn item. Great post!

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