The patent would be used in Google’s high-tech eyeglasses, Google Glass. That invention, introduced in limited amounts for testers in early 2013, has a tiny computer mounted to one side of the eyeglasses with a screen above one eye. This innovation would allow users to unlock the screen of Google Glass just with the flick of the eyes, among other applications.
Known as “Gaze tracking system,” the patent was registered on August 13, and assigned U.S. Patent number 8,510,166. The application was originally filed in May 2011, and cited previous innovations in eye tracking technology as precursors to its invention.
When implemented, a pair of Google Glasses would have tiny cameras facing towards the eyes from the glasses rim to determine the orientation of the eyes at any given moment. The glasses will also have sets of outward-looking cameras to identify and reconcile what the user is looking at.
The device will keep a log of what it identifies that the user has seen and record how much time the user spent gazing at each object.
This technology could potentially be used for marketing, with the ability to charge advertisers based on the length of time that a viewer spent gazing at an ad.
Apple has recently filed a patent application for similar technology, which would be able to determine if the user was looking at a hand-held device. In this case, if one’s gaze strayed, the screen could be programmed to go to sleep mode and then turn back on once the gaze is returned.
Google has also recently obtained a patent for a different kind of high-resolution screen, known as the quantum dot, which provides an even sharper image, even over the most innovative LCD screens available. This high-resolution screen in tandem with the “gaze tracking system” could lead Google Glass to become a powerful and revolutionary device.
Google Glass is expected to be introduced for sale to consumers in 2014.