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Are These Google's Augmented Reality Glasses?

posted Feb 24, 2012, 4:39 PM by Eric Greenbaum   [ updated Feb 27, 2012, 7:16 AM ]

Googgles?


Google augmented reality?
On February 22, the New York Times reported that Google plans to unveil augmented reality (“AR”) glasses by the end of the year. Despite a healthy buzz about the new product on the Internet, solid information about the capabilities of the potentially groundbreaking device has been hard to come by. In an attempt to get more information about the product, I conducted a search of the U.S.P.T.O.’s published patent applications. Below are my findings. In the spirit of full disclosure, I am unable to say with certainty that the AR glasses described here are, in fact, associated with Google.  
        The patent applications below, have all been assigned to the “Osterhout Group Inc.” The Osterhout Group is a San Francisco based design house that “specializes in integrating new and emerging technologies to create disruptive product lines in Consumer, Industrial, Defense and Toy Markets.” See (www.osterhoutgroup.com). Obviously, the assertion that the AR glasses described here describe the Google product, depends on a connection between Google and the Osterhout Group.   It should also be noted that a patent application is a technical disclosure not a product spec sheet.  Therefore it is likely that the released product will not contain every feature described in the patent application.


Features of The Glasses:

Features of the augmented reality glasses

        The essential feature of augmented reality is the ability to project an image onto a transparent or translucent lens such that users can see their environment overlaid with a computer generated image. The augmented reality glasses described here project a high-resolution image using micro-projectors mounted just behind the hinge on the glasses. The projectors emit light through a series of optics and onto a 1280 x 720p full-color display.
        The glasses have a forward facing camera capable of capturing video from the user’s point-of-view and projecting it into the user’s display. In order to capture and present high quality images to the wearer, the glasses incorporate various forms of image correction and stabilization, including optical and digital techniques. In addition, the glasses may have a rear-facing camera and integrated, removable ear-buds.
        The glasses have wireless connectivity and will include a navigation system such as a GPS processor, an accelerometer, a gyroscope, an altimeter, an inclinometer, a speedometer, a laser range finder and magnetometer.
        In some versions the AR glasses may include sensor arrays capable of measuring concentrations of gasses, toxins or other compounds of interest in the environment. Health sensor arrays may also be included, such as sensors capable of monitoring the electrical activity of the heart. Cataloging data from the AR glasses’ would allow for later analysis for tracking or trending purposes.
        The AR glasses as described, are capable of receiving content from an abundance of sources such as an Internet browser, local businesses, the onboard camera or other sensors as well as from cellular or other wireless networks. The inventors described specifics of a preferred embodiment of the AR glasses as containing OMAP4 dual 1GHz processor cores, an onboad camera capable of capturing 1.3MP color video, a communications system-on-a-chip (SOC) capable of operating with WLAN, Bluetooth, GPS receiver or FM radio, a micro projector illumination engine and a 3.6 VDC litium ion battery. The weight of the device is listed as 3.75 Oz (95g).

Operation and Uses:

augmented reality in-use

        The AR glasses have various “modes” of operation such as Tourist Mode, Educational Mode, Internet Mode, TV Mode, Gaming Mode, Exercise Mode and the like. The AR glasses may contain suitable software such that the eyepiece will automatically display certain content based upon sensing some visual or other environmental cue such as a building or painting. The applications describe integration of the “SRE engine” which is able to identify objects such as, architecture, natural structures, pictures, and rooms.
        The AR glasses will have substantial uses for social networking. For example, a Wi-Fi enabled user may opt-in to a geo-location application in which the application would identify other users and send information such as pictures, Facebook posts, “tweets,” “blips” or other greetings into the view of nearby users. Additionally, users may leave notes, comments, reviews, or other messages, even “virtual graffiti” viewable to other augmented reality users.
        Gaming applications run on an AR platform will be a mobile, online, gaming experience that integrates software-generated as well as real-world content. Games will take advantage of the location of each player, for example as in a game where points are awarded when a player reaches a particular location. Clues or other information could also be communicated to a player at given GPS coordinates as part of a game.
        The glasses described will also be able to enhance the visual capabilities of the wearer. With night vision powered by black silicone short wave infrared (SWIR), the user will be able to see in the dark as well as through, fog, smoke and particulate matter. Lest the user become bored with simply augmenting his own point-of-view, the video feed may come from other sources such as a panoramic camera, a camera mounted on a vehicle, drone or helicopter.
        Of course the glasses carry out many of the functions typically associated with traditional eye wear such as providing for vision correction, “sunglass mode” where the lenses appear somewhat dark and “blackout mode” where the lenses become opaque. To achieve this, the inventors contemplate using eclectrochromic or suspended particle materials that reversibly change appearance in response to an applied electrical charge.

User Interface:

user interface for augmented reality device


        While traditional control means such as buttons, dials and the like may integrated into the AR glasses themselves, traditional controls will be secondary to more innovative control mechanisms. For example, users of the AR glasses will control the applications running on the device with hand, finger, head or eye movements, or tapping against a hard surface. Other control mechanisms may include sensors worn on the user’s body allowing the wearer to transmit complex body movements to the glasses. The use of audio commands may also be enabled.
        One innovative input technique described for the AR glasses is the “virtual keyboard.” The virtual keyboard is projected, in a fixed position, in the user’s display. The user interacts with the virtual keyboard normally and the AG glasses translate the user’s motion into alpha-numeric input. The virtual keyboard may be projected onto a desk, wall or the user’s arm or hand.
        The AR glasses may also use a cursor, controlled through a virtual computer mouse worn on the wrist of the user or a wireless trackpad, handheld remote, or a remote mounted on a firearm. Other control means include the use of facial movements such as tensing a facial muscle or clicking one’s teeth. The glasses may also be able to track and utilize the user’s gaze to make selections.

Advertising and Surveillance:

big brother loves augmented reality


         Since it’s Google (maybe), it should be no surprise that the “[a]pplications of the present disclosure may provide a way for advertisements to be delivered to the wearer.” For example, ads may be displayed to users who are going about their day, browsing the Internet, conducting a web search, or walking through a store. Advertisers may direct their offerings to people who are within a certain geographic area, or other selection criteria, to better target customers.
        While traditional advertising techniques such as banner ads and text-based ads may be employed, other more innovative advertising techniques are enabled. For example an advertisement such as a the coffee cup seen in figure 19, is associated with a particular building and appears large and prominent in the user’s field of vision. In addition to visual ads, the system contemplates the use of audio messages to communicate advertising content. For example, an advertisement for beer may include an image of a beer bottle as well as the sound of a bottle being opened and beer being poured into a glass.
        A slightly concerning capability of the AR glasses comes in the field of surveillance. The inventors describe that the AR glasses may be equipped with powerful biometric data collection abilities. Specifically, they describe the use of audio recording combined with speech recognition capabilities to identify individuals based on their speech. Also, the optical features of the AR glasses may allow for the identification of people based on captured images of their faces or the iris of their eye.

Conclusion:

        Whether the AR glasses described here are actually Google’s product, the world of augmented reality seems to be upon us. It remains to be seen how many of the features described here will show up in the consumer version of the glasses. Personally, I eagerly look forward to the release of Google’s first augmented reality offering and I am excited to see how AR works.

What Do I Get?

posted Feb 22, 2012, 9:45 AM by Eric Greenbaum   [ updated Feb 22, 2012, 9:45 AM ]

Patent Law's Governing Dynamics: Greenbaum PC
For many, the formal and technical requirements for patentability mask a very simple and in some ways, a very beautiful system.  At its core, the patent system is a process for striking bargain between inventors and the American People.  The deal is essentially as follows: in return for inventors publicly disclosing their inventions, the federal government grants those inventors a monopoly over their inventions for 20 years.  


This view of the patent system creates a common-sense “reality check” for anyone caught up in the novelty-usefulness-enablement-non-obviousness quagmire of the patent process.  Think about it this way...assume an invention is not new, what benefit do the American People get if it is disclosed? None.  Likewise, if an invention is obvious, the American People receive no benefit from learning about it.  Also, even if an inventor has a great idea, if the invention is not described in a detailed enough way for others to understand it, the American People have not gained anything and therefore the inventor would not receive anything in return.  The patent process of submissions and office-actions is really the process of convincing the U.S.P.T.O. that the American People are getting a fair deal.  

And what is it that the American People get?  We get an immense, meticulously organized collection of know-how capable of providing solutions to a huge variety of engineering, mechanical, biological, chemical, medical, and software challenges (to name a few.)  The collection of knowledge contained in the 8 million-or-so issued patents is truly a marvel of information management.  If you doubt me, spend some searching yourself.  You will find detailed descriptions of machines, processes and molecules that solve problems you never even imagined.  See e.g. Patent No. 3,873,755: Method for Pre-Cooking Bacon and Patent No. 7,794,386: Methods for Facilitating Weight Loss.  

The U.S. patent system is not a perfect system.  It is comprised of humans, with all of their flaws. But the alternative to an incentivised disclosure program is secrecy.  Without a patent system, the only way to keep valuable ideas safe would be to keep them secret.  In a regime where secrecy trumps disclosure, nobody wins.  In order to grow and expand, ideas need to be shared, combined and recombined.  Our patent system provides a powerful incentive to encourage inventors to disclose their ideas.

While the process of filing and prosecuting a patent application can be arduous, understanding the fundamental bargain of the patent system, will keep you grounded.  

Benefits of Registering Your Trademark

posted Sep 22, 2011, 12:47 PM by Eric Greenbaum

Filing an application to register your trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (U.S.P.T.O.) is a relatively quick and easy way to obtain substantial IP protection for your business.  While common-law trademark rights can be perfected simply by using the mark in commerce, federal registration provides substantial additional benefits including: 
  • Public notice of your claim of ownership of the mark;
  • A legal presumption of your ownership of the mark and your exclusive right to use the mark nationwide on or in connection with the goods/services listed in the registration;
  • The ability to bring an action concerning the mark in federal court;
  • The use of the U.S. registration as a basis to obtain registration in foreign countries;
  • The ability to record the U.S. registration with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Service to prevent importation of infringing foreign goods;
  • The right to use the federal registration symbol ® and
  • Listing in the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s online databases.
Greenbaum PC would be glad to assist you in filing your federal trademark application.  Call us today!

              America Invents Act

              posted Sep 11, 2011, 9:40 AM by Eric Greenbaum   [ updated Sep 12, 2011, 11:25 AM ]

              The America Invents Act previously known as the Patent Reform Act of 2011, is expected to be signed into law this week by President Obama.  This is major reform to our patent system and it makes sense to familiarize yourself with the changes.  Here is a summary from Sen. Leahy that describes the key aspects of the new law.  


              Here are some additional links that discuss the bill in more detail and offer editorial comments.




              Getting the Most From Invention Disclosure Forms

              posted Aug 17, 2011, 2:26 PM by Eric Greenbaum

              It would be a mistake to look at an invention disclosure form as a chore. Rather, use the process of filling out this form as an exercise to fine-tune your invention. In case you are un-aware, an invention disclosure form contains a series of questions about an invention. Typically it poses questions that ask you to describe your invention, other similar inventions, and what makes this invention better than what came before it. Researching and answering these questions completely will take some time, but it will be time well spent. I often advise potential clients that are looking to minimize costs to carefully go through an invention disclosure form before ever talking to a patent lawyer. By doing this, you will be better prepared to answer the questions your patent agent will ask you in an initial interview.

              Inventing is a Numbers Game

              posted Aug 17, 2011, 2:24 PM by Eric Greenbaum

              I meet a lot of inventors that are certain they've come up with "the one." The one, great idea that is going to be a huge market success. The one great invention that is going to be so wildly popular they will never have to work again. The truth is that most inventions are not a commercial success. Even the inventions that are profitable are often not so profitable that the inventor can retire to a life of luxury and live off licensing royalties. Making money as an inventor requires a more diverse approach. My recommendation to inventors is to keep inventing. I promise that if you've thought of one winning idea, you can come up with more. The key is to define a problem. Once you have defined a problem the answer will often present itself. Another way to come up with ideas is to browse through the patent literature. Google patents is a user-friendly database that will give you access to almost every US patent out there. Pick a topic and start reading and your ideas will sprout. The thing to remember is that inventing is a numbers game. The more inventions you patent the greater the chance of becoming profitable. Rember, one hundred $10,000 ideas is as valuable as one 1 million dollar idea.

              Plant Patents

              posted Aug 17, 2011, 2:23 PM by Eric Greenbaum

              n 1930 congress enacted the Plant Protection Act, which grants patent protection to a person who invents or discovers a distinct and new variety of plant. In order to qualify for patent protection for a plant, it must be asexually reproduced (cloned). The plant must also be also be found in a cultivated state. In other words a wild plant is not patentable until it is asexually cloned. The purpose of the Plant Patent Act is to provide the agricultural community with the same access to the patent system as other industry. To be distinct, a plant must show characteristics that distinguish it from other similar plants. An inventor that identifies a new plant variety may obtain a patent for it even if it was found in a wild state so long as the inventor has asexually reproduced the plant. New plants must also meet the non-obviousness requirement.

              Inhalable Vitamins

              posted Aug 17, 2011, 2:22 PM by Eric Greenbaum

              Tired of old-fashioned pill-based vitamins, the Le Whif corporation has introduced an a product that delivers an inhalable dose of daily vitamins. The device works by delivering a fine, powdered form of supplements with each dose. The dosing or "whiffing" involves inhaling the powder into the mouth where it is absorbed directly into the bloodstream. Because whiffing bypasses the digestive system it avoids the "first pass effect" where the body filters out chemical substances before they enter the bloodstream. This allows for very efficient dosing. The inhalable vitamin product is marketed as "an innovative alternative to those one-a-day horse pills that leave your urine neon."

              Justice Department Questions Gene Patents

              posted Aug 17, 2011, 2:20 PM by Eric Greenbaum

              In March, a federal judge invalidated patents that claimed two genes lined to breast cancer, the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. The decision has cast doubt on thousands of gene patents, and may play a significant role in re-shaping the intellectual property landscape. The ACLU and others joined to challenge the validity of the gene patents and argued that since the genes are products of nature, they should not be patentable. Myriad Genetics, the owner of the patents at issue, moved to dismiss the case, claiming that the work necessary to isolate the DNA that comprises the gene, is tranformative and renders the genes patentable.

              On Friday, the Justice Department filed an amicus brief urging the courts to hold that genes are products of nature and therefore not patentable subject matter. This filing signals a major policy change within the Obama administration. Insiders suggest that the U.S. Patent Office was "chagrined that the Department of Justice was taking a viewpoint very different from the Patent Office. " Regardless, the administration's new policy will have little immediate practical effect because the Patent Office will not start denying or invalidating patents because of pending litigation.

              Frozen turkey? No problem.

              posted Aug 17, 2011, 2:17 PM by Eric Greenbaum   [ updated Aug 17, 2011, 2:20 PM ]

              Frozen turkey?  No problem.
               
              Thanksgiving lore is filled with stories of frozen turkeys wreaking havoc on last-minute chefs. While there are techniques for rapidly thawing a turkey, they usually involve soaking the hypothermic bird in a large bucket or bathtub. For all of you who thought "there must be a better way..." I present patent application # 10/975242: A method of Cooking a Frozen Turkey. Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving!

              METHOD FOR COOKING FROZEN TURKEY

              A preferred embodiment of the present invention is a method of cooking a frozen whole turkey. The frozen whole turkey is preferably cooked in a bag resulting in evenly, thoroughly cooked turkey meat. Although the present invention is discussed with respect to a frozen whole turkey, it is recognized that other suitable types of meat such as, but not limited to, a frozen split bird (one leg, 1 wing, and ½ breast), a frozen pork roast, or a frozen beef roast could also be used. Therefore, the term “frozen whole turkey” may be interchanged with other suitable types of meat. Further, the more general term “bird” is used throughout to refer to the frozen whole turkey used in the preferred embodiment and may also be interchanged with other suitable types of meat.

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