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Google Wants to Patent a Laser Keyboard for Project Glass

By - Source: UnwiredView | B 24 comments

A laser projector mounted to Google Glass could shoot a numeric pad onto your hand.

UnwiredView has discovered that Google has filed for a patent with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office called "Methods and Systems for a Virtual Input Device" (Patent 20130016070) which allows users of its Project Glass AR goggles to input text by simply typing on their skin.

According to the patent, this virtual typing will be accomplished thanks to a laser projector mounted on the arm of the specs. It will project a keyboard onto the user's hand or forearm, creating a fleshy touchscreen. Input methods will include tapping on the skin, and actually moving the targeted hand itself.

Based on the diagrams, Google plans to project a numeric keypad on the user's hand, possibly for manually punching in phone numbers or entering PIN-based codes when using Google's specs on the go. Additional function buttons will be projected on the user's wrist while a full-blown keyboard will likely be projected onto the surface of a desk.

Here's the actual patent abstract:

"The present application discloses systems and methods for a virtual input device. In one example, the virtual input device includes a projector and a camera. The projector projects a pattern onto a surface. The camera captures images that can be interpreted by a processor to determine actions. The projector may be mounted on an arm of a pair of eyeglasses and the camera may be mounted on an opposite arm of the eyeglasses. A pattern for a virtual input device can be projected onto a "display hand" of a user, and the camera may be able to detect when the user uses an opposite hand to select items of the virtual input device. In another example, the camera may detect when the display hand is moving and interpret display hand movements as inputs to the virtual input device, and/or realign the projection onto the moving display hand."

The Google patent was filed back on June 26, 2012, and made pubic on January 17. The inventors are listed to be Google's own Thad Eugene Starner, Liang-Yu (Tom) Chi, and Luis Ricardo Prada Gomez. Google has the patent listed locally here, and includes the illustrations if you can't get them to load from the USPTO's link.

What's interesting about this patent application is that users may be able to choose a number or letter by moving the "display hand". As the diagram shows, the virtual pad may be stationary as the central point of the palm, originally designated as the #5 key, slides underneath in left, right, up and down positions to choose additional numbers. The diagram also shows the user making a fist as one of the many gestures.

On the surface this patent looks rather cool, but it could prove dangerous if the user is walking down a crowded sidewalk, trying to dial a phone number and chopping the air with his hand like some pretend karate master. Whoops, sorry about your eye, pal.


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  • 10 Hide
    A Bad Day , January 18, 2013 9:08 PM
    Weren't there laser keyboards that displayed the virtual keyboard onto a table?...
Other Comments
  • 10 Hide
    A Bad Day , January 18, 2013 9:08 PM
    Weren't there laser keyboards that displayed the virtual keyboard onto a table?...
  • 0 Hide
    calmstateofmind , January 18, 2013 9:22 PM
    A Bad DayWeren't there laser keyboards that displayed the virtual keyboard onto a table?...


    Yes. I remember seeing those about 6-7 years ago, maybe even longer.
  • 3 Hide
    dormantreign , January 18, 2013 9:23 PM
    I hate patents and copyrights...should be abolished. Its the way to a class 1 civilization.
  • 3 Hide
    spartanmk2 , January 18, 2013 9:32 PM
    But can it do lasik?
  • 0 Hide
    Achoo22 , January 18, 2013 9:35 PM
    I would like to hear more about this tech. The projection sounds trivially easy, but detecting key-presses does not. Compared to all the other methods one could use to gather input (gestures, visual invariants, etc), a projected keyboard sounds quite weak.
  • 7 Hide
    getochkn , January 18, 2013 9:49 PM
    dormantreignI hate patents and copyrights...should be abolished. Its the way to a class 1 civilization.


    So you'd be happy spending years of your life and millions of dollars developing something just to have someone steal it and get rich off it?
  • 0 Hide
    twelch82 , January 18, 2013 10:19 PM
    dormantreignI hate patents and copyrights...should be abolished. Its the way to a class 1 civilization.


    I hate the patenting of ideas. Especially ideas that already existed, but are being patented "in a different context." Is the idea of interacting with a projected image new and novel? No. They're getting the patent based on the fact that normally the projector isn't worn on the user's head.
  • 0 Hide
    seafire01 , January 18, 2013 10:30 PM
    It depends on what the object is. If it is an original object, then no it shouldn't. Would you really want your life work being stolen just because you think it's the way to a "class 1 civilization"?
  • 0 Hide
    calmstateofmind , January 18, 2013 10:33 PM
    twelch82I hate the patenting of ideas. Especially ideas that already existed, but are being patented "in a different context." Is the idea of interacting with a projected image new and novel? No. They're getting the patent based on the fact that normally the projector isn't worn on the user's head.


    With as many technological solutions we have today, that amount of specificity is accepted, and even required. A technology used on someone's head, compared to if they wore it on their wrist, could have completely different applications.
  • 0 Hide
    slabbo , January 18, 2013 10:54 PM
    getochknSo you'd be happy spending years of your life and millions of dollars developing something just to have someone steal it and get rich off it?

    This way of thinking is why we'll never be a class 1 civilization. If it was never patented it, it wouldn't be stealing. And another person taking that invention and making it better or cheaper isn't a bad thing. It would also push innovation at a much much faster rate, because if they want to make money they will have to constantly make it better so that the people will buy it over another's competitor's product.

    It's like science, once we discover something it should be shared for free so that other smart people can build on it and advance our species as a whole. Telsa wanted free energy for all of humanity, so we wouldn't have to kill each other for resources all the time. They destroyed and or suppressed a lot of his work which unfortunately set back the human race at the very least 100 years.
  • 1 Hide
    excella1221 , January 18, 2013 11:04 PM
    "made pubic"...?

    Lol, that's like one of the worst and funniest(depending on your type of humor) typo one can make. :lol: 
  • -1 Hide
    seafire01 , January 19, 2013 12:06 AM
    You think taking away patents will make things better?

    Let's put it this way: You go to buy a graphics card with all new technology and it can't be patented according to your logic. You go into a superstore to buy it and you find that there are 15 other brands with other cards that have the same technology.

    You don't get it? Nothing would ever be impressive. Nothing would ever be unique. There would be multiples of each bit of technology/items and it would eventually cause OVER-INFLATION of each of the markets. This would either lead to a sharp rise in cost or a sharp drop in cost, eventually leading companies out of business. Think about what you're doing before you do it.
  • 1 Hide
    twelch82 , January 19, 2013 12:31 AM
    calmstateofmindWith as many technological solutions we have today, that amount of specificity is accepted, and even required. A technology used on someone's head, compared to if they wore it on their wrist, could have completely different applications.


    Saying, "What if we attached a projector to someone's head?", and then drawing up some drawings of it, is not presenting something patent-worthy, IMO.

    Maybe the Austin Powers writer should get a patent on sharks with laser beams on their heads.
  • 1 Hide
    dgingeri , January 19, 2013 12:33 AM
    This was already predicted by the writers of Star Trek. Remember all those red lasers attached to the side of the Borgs' heads? There it is.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , January 19, 2013 1:29 AM
    But can I run Crysis?
  • -1 Hide
    alidan , January 19, 2013 2:00 AM
    old tech that sucks to use, but in this application, would actually be pretty usefull seeing as how there is next to no way to get a better keyboard for the glasses.
  • 0 Hide
    JoeMomma , January 19, 2013 2:32 AM
    Class 1 civilization? What a joke. Most people are jerks and the patent laws exist to protect innovation not to stifle it. We might be able to eliminate patents when there is only one corporate entity in the universe. Like on Star Trek.

    Case in point.
    When I worked at Black & Decker one would get a $5000 bonus for developing a patent. Our college intern came up with a patent and my boss erased his name and stole the patent and this kids $5K.
    He justified his actions by saying if he hadn't told the intern to work on that project he wouldn't have developed the idea. The guy could have at least shared the money or even bought him a beer but he didn't.
  • 2 Hide
    _Cosmin_ , January 19, 2013 6:44 AM
    JoeMommaClass 1 civilization? What a joke. Most people are jerks and the patent laws exist to protect innovation not to stifle it. We might be able to eliminate patents when there is only one corporate entity in the universe. Like on Star Trek.Case in point. When I worked at Black & Decker one would get a $5000 bonus for developing a patent. Our college intern came up with a patent and my boss erased his name and stole the patent and this kids $5K.He justified his actions by saying if he hadn't told the intern to work on that project he wouldn't have developed the idea. The guy could have at least shared the money or even bought him a beer but he didn't.


    In any firm there is a contractual clause which states that any patent or innovation you develop working there belongs to the firm! Read contract next time before you sign it!
    That`s why apple, ibm and other firms have patents and not the poor bastards who came with ideea and work at implementation!

    That`s why i considered broked the patents system because now they grant patents for ideeas not actual products. They showed a prototype for that keyboard? NO. Is the first of this kind? NO.
    More of... if is only 25% different from others keyboards it is granted as a new patent. AND THAT IS A BULSHIT (since is nothing new really)!
    And lately they grant patents for software... let`s face it: there are 53 instructions in C language... and you think that is impossible for 2 people in 6 bil. to came with same order of them which we call programs? Since there are no infinite combinations for them sooner or later someone will came up with same program!
  • 0 Hide
    Stevemeister , January 19, 2013 9:09 AM
    Patenting of "ideas" alone should not be permitted as in effect it is almost impossible to prove that someone else has not had exactly the same idea . . . but just didn't happen to register it with a patent office or was even aware the idea had been patented. Patents should only be permitted when there are working prototypes OR if patenting of an idea is allowed there should be a time limit (say 2 years) within which a viable working prototype must be developed (or at least substantial money must have been invested to demonstrate that the patent register is not simply laying claim to something they have no intention of seriously developing). After a certain period has elapsed the patent expires and after that it should be free game with no-one else able to claim a patent so basically the "idea" is open to anyone prepared to invest in making it reality and first to do it wins!. This whole registering of ideas to me is not too much different to trolls that register internet domain names for companies that already exist with the hope of selling them to such companies. "Parking" should not be permitted . . either actively develop or get out of the way (shit or get off the pot). . . . . now I'm off to register a patent for a device that transports matter from one location to another by molecular transfer (beam me up Scotty) . . . after all one day someone may actually figure out how to do it and I'll be able to claim royalities or a big fat settlement for patent violation!
  • 0 Hide
    daggs , January 19, 2013 2:51 PM
    are you kidding me?!?!? write "Virtual Laser Keyboard" in google and you will see at least 2 such appliances in the market today.
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