How Does IP Law Affect The Technology In Google Glass?

"I need your clothes, your boots and your motorcycle" (Terminator 2)

Until very recently, the concept that machines could identify and respond to images was as far-fetched as a cyborg being sent back in time to kill a future leader. And the first time you hear of the capabilities of some of the newest wearable consumer products they seem almost like science-fiction.

One example is Google Glass, a pair of internet-connected spectacles, which combine visual recognition software with voice and gesture control. The glasses use cameras to identify what the wearer can see and then to display related electronic images in the field of vision. For example, if the wearer looks at the Eiffel Tower then the Wikipedia page for the landmark might pop up.

One of the most promising applications for the technology is almost instantaneous language translation. As well as being able to convert audio Babelfish-style (so the wearer can converse in multiple foreign tongues), software such as Word Lens can read and translate text and signs before superimposing the translation in the place of the original words. Perhaps most important for any cutting-edge technology, Google Glass also allows you to take selfies and watch cat videos.

La vista

Whilst the technology may be ready, it is clear that the aesthetics have a way to go. Wearing a clunky box on the side of your glasses is currently about as cool as a Bluetooth earpiece. Fortunately, Google seems to have something else in the pipeline. A number of pending patent applications (see WO 2014/052164, WO 2014/052012, WO 2014/052046) and the recent announcement of its "smart contact lens" project indicate an option more fashion conscious technophiles may soon have an alternative option. Their less intrusive nature may at least make the technology more appealing to mainstream consumers.

This augmented reality, or "Terminator-vision", also opens up a new world of potential advertising possibilities, some of which we are likely to have already been unwittingly exposed. The ability of consumers to easily skip advertisements, means that product placement is increasingly important. Using digital replacement technology, brand names and even entire objects can be placed or removed from films and recorded tv to suit specific markets.

Going one step further, digital replacement technology is now adopted at live sports events. The content of billboards around the playing area is captured in the usual way by the on-site cameras...

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