Skip to main content

Google Wants to Patent a Laser Keyboard for Project Glass

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.

Contact Us for News Tips, Corrections and Feedback

  • A Bad Day
    Weren't there laser keyboards that displayed the virtual keyboard onto a table?...
    Reply
  • calmstateofmind
    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.
    Reply
  • dormantreign
    I hate patents and copyrights...should be abolished. Its the way to a class 1 civilization.
    Reply
  • spartanmk2
    But can it do lasik?
    Reply
  • Achoo22
    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.
    Reply
  • getochkn
    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?
    Reply
  • twelch82
    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.
    Reply
  • seafire01
    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"?
    Reply
  • calmstateofmind
    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.
    Reply
  • slabbo
    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.
    Reply