United States Patent & Trademark Office Stories March 28, 2013

Google’s latest camera patent features GPS tech that auto-adjusts settings to weather

Patents don’t always become reality, but they—such as Google’s latest camera settings patent— are certainly an interesting look into the possible future.

As reported by Engadget, a new Google patent filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office describes a method of using GPS technology to auto-adjust a camera’s settings. The GPS would gather data for local climate and tune the camera’s white balance and saturation, for instance, to match the weather.

For those interested, the patent’s legalese abstract follows:

Disclosed herein is a method for capturing an image using an image capture device equipped with a processor. The method includes receiving an electromagnetic signal transmitted from a remote station, determining a location of the image capture device based on the received electromagnetic signal, establishing communication over a network between the image capture device and a remote server, transmitting a request to the remote server for weather information pertaining to the determined location; receiving the weather information, determining an ambient lighting value based on the weather information, capturing an image using the image capture device, and processing the captured image using the determined ambient lighting value.

Photographers can fine-tune their own settings now, obviously, but Google’s patent is an interesting spin on GPS and camera settings. Marrying the two functions together would certainly create new, appealing technology for snapping beautiful images in rain or shine and on the fly.

United States Patent & Trademark Office Stories August 17, 2012

USPTO publishes Google patent for 3D video conferencing on a laptop

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office published a patent application from Google that illustrates the search giant is developing technology for a computing device, such a laptop, that will boast dual cameras with 3D video conferencing as the main function.

Patent Bolt explained:

  • Google’s specific example goes like this: the computing notebook with the dual cameras could be used by a first user to produce a stereoscopic image of, for example, the first user during a video conference session when while in the notebook’s stereoscopic mode. In some instances, the stereoscopic image could be displayed locally and/or sent to a remote computing device via the video conference session.
  • If a second user joins the video conferencing session in the same room as the first user, the notebook could be changed from a stereoscopic mode to that of a multi-image mode so that separate images of the first user and the second user could be used during the video conferencing session.

It is worth noting stereoscopy is otherwise known as 3D imaging. Most stereoscopic techniques present two offset images independently to the left and right eye of the viewer, but the brain combines them to give the perception of 3D depth.

Patent Bolt further contextualized the multi-image mode:

  • In Google’s example of this invention used in a video conferencing context, two people in one office could be both using the same notebook during the conference for the sake of simple communications. They could be sitting across the table from each other with one camera facing one participant and the other camera pointed to the back of the notebook to view the second participant. The party on the other end of the conference would simply see two side-by-side boxes on their screen as if the individuals were actually sitting side by side. For home users it could be handy application when there’s only one household notebook.

Get the full report and more images at Patent Bolt.

United States Patent & Trademark Office Stories August 16, 2012

USPTO publishes Google’s ‘Speak to Tweet’ patent

The U.S. Patent and Trademark office just published a Google patent for “Speak to Tweet,” which is a service that allows users to communicate on Twitter by dialing an international phone number and then leaving a tweet by way of voice message. Google developed “Speak to Tweet” in response to the 2011 Egyptian revolution Internet shutdown.

Patentbolt explained:

In January 2011 Google acquired a small company called SayNow. Google, with the assistance of their newly acquired SayNow team worked night and day with Twitter so as to quickly develop a product called “Speak to Tweet.” The service was developed to help people stay connected in times when they were unable to find a viable Internet connection. The inspiration for this application was born during the Egyptian revolution. As a reaction to protests in Cairo, the Egyptian government shut down the Internet throughout that country on January 26, 2011. Technically, Speak to Tweet (or speak2tweet) is a communications service that allows users to leave a “tweet” on Twitter by calling a designated international phone number and leaving a voice message. Recently, the US Patent Office published the patent that’s behind the Speak to Tweet service.

Head of the Google Cultural Institute Steve Crossan originally filed the patent application in Q1 2012. Check it out here.

[Image via Patentbolt]

United States Patent & Trademark Office Stories July 17, 2012

Although we have not seen that much about how Google’s augmented reality glasses will actually work (apart from a few photos and video at the Google I/O skydiver demo), the company plans to get the $1,500 Explorer Edition into hands of I/O attendees who preordered the device by next year. Google appears to already be thinking about security features for Project Glass with a patent published by the United States Patent & Trademark Office (via Engadget) that details various ways of locking the device or sounding an alarm when detecting unnatural movements. It would also be capable of alerting authorities that the glasses have been stolen or unintentionally removed.

These features would have certainly been useful to University of Toronto professor Dr. Steve Mann (pictured above), who recently was physically assaulted for wearing his EyeTap Digital Eye Glass system. Mann described the experience of having his vision system, which he explained could only be removed with special tools, ripped off his head by a McDonalds employee:

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United States Patent & Trademark Office Stories June 18, 2012

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office first published Samsung’s patent about a dual-display smartphone in September 2011, but now a second patent application on the subject recently surfaced that advances on the previous design.

According to PatentBolt, the two patents detail the device’s functionality by describing how both screens can display several apps simultaneously, such as showing a picture on one screen and chatting in a window on the other panel. The device could further feature capabilities for “television (TV) watching, on-line game service and on-demand video service are communications or applications that may be provided to users,” or even voice communication, SMS, and mobile banking. The dual screens could also seamlessly join to create one larger display.

Samsung’s older patent explained many of the above functions, but a problem with manufacturability weighed down the likelihood of this product ever becoming known. One of the main drawbacks to the original design is its hinge, but a large part of Samsung’s newer patent concerns a better hinge solution.

The strength of the new hinge will allow the unit to stay in place, so the user can consume content while recharging (and without the need for a separate docking station). The entire concept provides “the plurality of display units which rotate stepwise,” according to PatentBolt, by way of an advanced multi-axis hinge. Moreover, Samsung now uses the term “multidisplay” instead of “dual display.”

The South Korea-based manufacture apparently believes consumers need a portable communication device with a “multidisplay.” Its latest patent application for the device filed in Q4 2011 in the U.S., and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office published it in Q2 2012.

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United States Patent & Trademark Office Stories May 22, 2012

Google just got its hands on four more Project Glass-based patents this morning.

As discovered by Engadget, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted patents this morning that detail the majority of Google Glasses’ right-side. The eye-hovering camera and its inner-workings hidden within the spectacle rim were successfully patented, as well as the nose-bridge sensor, and the function for illustrating sounds in the heads-up display with source, direction, and range details. The Mountain View, Calif.-based Company also got the rights to use both eye spectacles as separate displays. The patent’s included example, as shown above, depicts a map visible in one eye with navigation particulars streaming to the other eye.

Just last week, patents published by the USPTO showed Google successfully patented at least the ornamental design of its augmented reality glasses that were unveiled last month. The patents show a device that does not look exactly like the prototypes revealed in the concept videos, nor the pair worn by Sergey Brin, but most designs get altered before hitting the stores’ shelves anyway.

Meanwhile, in related news, according to the Wall Street Journal, eyeglasses designer Michael Pachleitner Group is jumping on the bandwagon by integrating technology to display information and imagery on to spectacles in its workforce. The Austrian company recently dressed its warehouse employees with $13,000 frames built by Knapp AG.

The devices provide visual details through a Wi-Fi connection, so warehouse workers can access over 1.4 million items stored in the facility. The eyewear company hopes to staff all six warehouses by July with employees who will wear the costly apparatus all day. The measure aims to cut “picking errors” by an estimated 60 percent.

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United States Patent & Trademark Office Stories May 17, 2012

At this point, at the very least, we already know that Google’s augmented reality glasses are capable of snapping a photo. However, we do not have much of an idea of how the UI might work other than what is in the initial concept video. Our sources previously indicated that Google was using a “head tilting-to scroll and click” for navigation of the user interface. Today, we get a look out how the company is experimenting with alternative methods of input for the glasses from a patent recently granted by the United States Patent & Trademark Office and detailed by PatentBolt.

According to the report, the highlight of the patent is how Google’s glasses could work with hand gestures. The patent described various hand-wearable markers, such as a ring, invisible tattoo, or a woman’s fingernail, which could be detected by the glasses’ IR camera, to “track position and motion of the hand-wearable item within a FOV of the HMD.” In other words, the wearable marker, in whatever form factor, would allow the glasses to pick up hand gestures. The report also noted multiple markers could be used to perform complex gestures involving several fingers or both hands: expand full story

United States Patent & Trademark Office Stories May 15, 2012

Patents recently published by the United States Patent & Trademark Office (via Engadget) show Google successfully patented at least the ornamental design of its “Project Glass” augmented reality glasses unveiled last month. It does not look exactly like the prototypes shown off in the concept videos, nor the pair worn by Sergey Brin, but we expect the design will be altered somewhat before it eventually hits the market. expand full story

United States Patent & Trademark Office Stories February 20, 2012

Google is on a roll these days in regards to interesting patent filings. The company filed a patent for Android’s pattern unlock feature in November, and a new filing suggests more unlocking methods with one involving voice recognition and the other based on a two-icon methodology. Today, Patently Apple pointed to another document the search company filed with the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) on Sept. 29, 2011.

Being made public only recently, it describes methods and apparatus for a Google TV remote that lets you search for televisions shows, movies, music and other media simply by asking. This sounds a lot like Apple’s Siri voice assistant the rumor-mill speculates could enhance an alleged Apple-branded HD TV set.

The difference, per the publication:

Apple has had a similar feature under Remote for several years now, but it doesn’t relate to live TV as Google’s will. Google’s real competitor on this particular front will come from Samsung who just announced their latest TV remote with voice controls and a touch pad. The race to bring the best next generation TV Remote to market is officially on.

One embodiment of the invention describes a situation where a user searches for the popular sitcom “Seinfeld” simply by asking their Android phone, “When is Seinfeld on?” The phone would parse and send the query up to the Google cloud, beaming down the results to your Google TV set-top box.

GPS positioning could enhance the scope of the invention in interesting ways:

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United States Patent & Trademark Office Stories February 9, 2012

A new trademark filing submitted to the United States Patent & Trademark Office suggests the South Korean conglomerate may have plans to take the Galaxy brand beyond smartphones and tablets. Samsung, of course, has an established digital camera business. The new “Galaxy Camera” trademark covers “Cameras and camcorders” and it could indicate that Samsung is developing a family of Android-based digital cameras and camcorders.

This makes a lot of sense, if you ask us. One could argue this category is ripe for a change. Moreover, Android is the perfect fit, because it is a software platform conceived to power all kinds of digital devices—not just smartphones and tablets. Finally, the timing could not be better as incumbents like Kodak phase out digital cameras, camcorders and digital picture frames from its portfolios. Besides, Samsung certainly has the manufacturing capabilities and market power to deploy Android successfully across this product category.

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