Patents are a virtue: Two new patents from Google, and Apple's way into the advertising market

Article  \  19 Aug 2013

Unlocking your phone with your face, glasses with twin lasers for protecting a keyboard onto a surface, and being paid for viewing adverts. Anton Blijlevens highlights some interesting patents to look out for on the shelves.

A smile a day keeps the thieves away

The next time you see a person frowning heavily at you or raising their eyebrows inappropriately across the room, don't be too hasty to jump to conclusions. They may just be unlocking their phone if Google has anything to do with it. That's because Google has recently been issued a US patent US 8,457,367, that can authenticate a user based on the changing features of their face. 

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The method essentially compares a first facial image to a second facial image of a user to detect a "facial gesture". It also determines whether the two images are associated with the same user, and whether to deny authentication to a user based on the comparison. 

Speculation is that the features described in the patent will allow Google to make its face recognition feature (introduced in Ice Cream Sandwich version of Android) more difficult to spoof.  Botox users will have to stick with keypads.

Beam me up Scotty

Staying with Google, who has also filed US patent application number US20130016070.  

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The patent specification describes glasses with twin lasers for projecting an 'input device' such as a keyboard onto a surface, such as a user's hand. The keyboard can then be utilised to input information into an electronic device - and I'm guessing it will be a pair of Google glasses.

While the concept of laser input devices is not new, there have been rumours that Google was looking for new ways to input information into its Google glasses, and this seems to be one of the solutions.

Interesting to see what Google has planned for us.

A penny for your interests

Moving along to one of Google's main competitors. Apple has been looking for a way into Google's lucrative advertising market for some time now. If their recent US patent application number 20130144789 is anything to go by, they may have found an angle. The patent application can be found here:

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Their patent application describes how a person could be paid in 'monetary value' for viewing adverts. A person accessing an advert by an electronic device, or scanning a code from an advertisement, can receive credit for their efforts (probably through iTunes).  The application describes credit that has value apart from the electronic device it is granted to, as well as credit that only has value on that phone.

Perhaps Apple has found a way to encourage their customers to earn their daily coffee by browsing online.

We hope you found the above interesting. IP database searching will often lead you to learning about new initiatives well before product is released.  Patents are automatically published 18 months after filing and for some products that is well before R&D is even completed. Trade marks are published in most countries at the filing date and can lead to knowing about new initiatives of competitors well before the brands are launched.

An edited version of this column first appeared on the Idealog website on 19 August 2013.