During Google's recent I/O developer conference keynote we learned about Google's new VR technology platform called "Jump" that will be using an all new GoPro 360° camera array for stereoscopic, spherical content capture. With Google working on this new VR camera system with GoPro, it was easier to see the real possibilities that another new invention from Google could be in the works as well. Earlier this month, the U.S. Patent Office published one of Google's latest patent applications that related to a new wearable camera system that could be built into a cap or hat. While the system could be used to take hands-free vacation, sporting and/or concert/event videos – Google has another couple of very specific ideas for such a system and our report will fill you in on what they are.
Google's Patent Background
Designers of computing devices are able to incorporate increasingly more computing power into smaller devices that can be placed on a person's body. Digital cameras are becoming commonplace in various devices, and mobile phones are becoming ubiquitous.
Some cameras are designed to be attached to a helmet or another place on a person's body for capturing video clips of events. These cameras typically record and store video clips of an event, and a person can later move the video clips onto a computer.
Google's New Wearable Computer Invention
Google's invention generally relates to wearable technology. As could be seen in their patent FIG. 2A below, the system relates to a hat or cap that could be used in both consumer and professional markets (security, police, coast guards, army). The head ware could be integrated with a camera system and used in connection with an interactive session with a remote user.
Google's patent FIG. 2A is a side view of an example camera system #202 for a hat or cap #204. The camera system includes a body #206 that houses a processor, a memory, and a wireless communications module. The camera system also includes a movable head #208. The cap includes a brim and a receptacle #210 in the brim configured to receive the camera system and secure the camera system to the cap.
In some implementations, the receptacle includes a pair of gripping members extending from the front of the brim to the back of the brim. A user can secure the camera system to the hat by sliding the camera system between the gripping members. In some implementations, the camera system (or the receptacle) includes a latch that clicks into place when the user slides the camera system all the way into place between the gripping members. When the user wants to remove the camera system, the user can release the latch and slide the camera system back out from between the gripping members.
The camera system is configured to connect, via the wireless communications module and a mobile computing device, to a remote computer system. For example, the camera system can pair with a mobile device, e.g., by Bluetooth, and then transmit a video feed from the camera system to the remote computer system.
The mobile computing device can be, e.g., a user's mobile phone or tablet. In some implementations, the camera system can be used to make a phone call or video phone call by the user's mobile phone, e.g., by routing audio from the phone to speakers in the cap and audio from a microphone in the hat to the mobile phone.
The camera system can be configured to connect to an interactive session system or a social networking system. For example, the user can, using the user's mobile device, authenticate to a social networking system or an interactive session system.
The user can select a group of other users, or a selected expert from the interactive session system, and then begin transmitting a video feed to the selected group or expert. It could be used as a help-session tool where the expert could be shown the problem and then communicate and direct you as to how a problem could be solved. We elaborate on this further below.
Batteries and Charging Methods
Google's patent FIG. 2B noted above is a side view of the example camera system and two example battery modules 212a and 212b. One or more of the battery modules can be attached to the hat at locations apart from the camera system. For example, the two battery modules can be attached on the sides of the hat so that the weight of each battery balances the weight of the other battery. In another example, a single battery module can be attached at the back of the hat, e.g., to a strap used to adjust the diameter of the hat, so that the weight of the battery module balances against the weight of the camera system.
The battery modules can be placed on the outside of the hat, the inside of the hat, or into pouches within the fabric of the hat. The battery modules, when attached to the hat, are electrically coupled to the camera system, e.g., by wires or other conductive elements running inside the hat.
In some implementations, the hat is configured for inductive charging, e.g., the hat includes an inductive coil system in the periphery of the brim so that a user can hang the hat onto an inductive charging hat hook and begin charging the battery modules. The inductive charging system can be configured so that the batteries do not charge while the user is wearing the hat.
In some implementations, the hat includes solar panels on the outside of the hat that are electrically coupled to the batteries. The solar panels are configured to charge the batteries.
The Camera System
Google's patent FIG. 2C noted below is a front view of the example camera system. The movable head of the camera system houses a lens #214, a laser pointer #216, and a session recording indicator #218 in the form of an LED light. The lens captures images that the camera system transmits. The laser pointer, in some implementations, can be turned on or off by a remote user, e.g., so that the remote user can direct the local user to something in the local user's field of vision.
Google's patent FIG. 2D noted above is a bottom view of the example camera system. The camera system includes an actuator #220 for rotating the movable head. The camera system also includes two grooved rails #222a-b configured to mate with the gripping members of the receptacle on the brim of the hat. In some implementations, the camera system includes a power on/off switch on the bottom of the camera system.
The Heart of the System: Interactive Sessions
According to Google, the user will be able to connect to an interactive session system via their mobile device to one or more computers. The interactive session system starts with entering the username and password into the mobile device and the mobile device authenticates to a user account on the interactive session system.
The user then selects a real time interactive assistance session from the interactive session system. For example, the user may enter a search query for an interactive assistance session or browse through a variety of interactive assistance sessions, e.g., organized by topical category or expert assistants' names or other criteria.
The interactive session system establishes an interactive session between a remote assistance system and the user's mobile device. An expert assistant uses the remote assistance system to communicate with the user.
The mobile device transmits a video feed received from the camera system and an audio feed from the user to the remote assistance system. The audio feed of the user can be captured using a microphone on the mobile device or a microphone on the hat coupled to the camera system. The mobile device receives an audio feed from the expert assistant at the remote assistance system. The mobile device can play the audio feed using a speaker on the mobile device or using one or more speakers on the hat coupled to the camera system by transmitting the audio feed to the camera system. In some implementations, the mobile device receives a video feed from the expert assistant at the remote assistance system and displays the video feed on a display screen of the mobile device.
The user performs a task with the assistance of the expert assistant who is viewing the video feed from the camera system and who are providing instructions to the user via the audio feed. In this manner, the expert assistant is viewing essentially what the user is viewing and so can provide precise, appropriate instructions even as the user moves around during completion of the task. Furthermore, since the user is wearing the camera system on the hat, the user has both hands free to work on the task.
In some implementations, the expert assistant can send one or more commands to the user's mobile device or to the camera system. For example, in some implementations, the camera system includes a movable head, e.g., the movable head 208 of FIG. 2A, and the expert assistant can send commands to move the camera system's movable head, e.g., up or down or left or right. In some implementations, the camera system includes a laser pointer, e.g., the laser pointer 216 of FIG. 2C, and the expert assistant can send commands to turn the laser pointer on and off.
In some implementations, the hat includes left and right vibration modules. The camera system is configured to activate the left and right vibration modules in response to left and right commands from the expert assistant. The expert assistant can activate the left vibration module to indicate that the user should turn their head to the left and the right vibration module to indicate that the user should turn the user's head to the right, or vice versa.
Handy in Emergencies
Google's patent FIG. 4 shown below is a flow diagram of an example method 400 performed by an emergency routing system for handling an emergency situation. The emergency routing system is a system of one or more computers.
The emergency routing system receives, from a wearable camera system on a person, an emergency situation indication message (402). The wearable camera system can be, for example, the hat camera system as noted in FIG. 2A. The emergency routing system also receives a geographic location of the wearable camera system. For example, the wearable camera system can include a Global Positioning System (GPS) unit that determines the geographic location, or the wearable camera system can triangulate the location from cell towers or Wi-Fi networks.
The emergency routing system determines, from at least two available emergency handling systems, an emergency handling system to handle the emergency situation based on the geographic location received from the wearable camera system (404). Each emergency handling system is a system of one or more computers. The emergency routing system can determine the emergency handling system using a mapping between locations and emergency handling systems. The mapping can be populated, for example, by a system operator.
For example, if the geographic location is inside of a mall, the emergency routing system can select an emergency handling system for mall security. In another example, if the user is on a boat, the emergency routing system can select an emergency handling system for the Coast Guard. In another example, if the user is on a highway, the system can select an emergency handling system for a highway patrol.
The emergency routing system routes a video feed from a camera of the wearable camera system and the geographic location to the emergency handling system (406). In some implementation, the wearable camera system sends the video feed to the emergency routing system which then forwards the feed to the emergency handling system; in some other implementations, the wearable camera system sends the video feed to the emergency handling system and not the emergency routing system. The system can optionally automatically send a notification to a law enforcement or security organization associated with the geographic location.
In some implementations, the emergency routing system, or the emergency handling system, routes an audio feed from the emergency handling system to the wearable camera system (408). The wearable camera system can include an audio speaker that plays the audio feed. In this manner, a person using the emergency handling system can provide instructions to the wearer of the wearable camera system, or can make it known to an attacker or threatening person that the emergency is being captured, live, by the video feed in an effort to deter a crime or other situation.
In some implementations, the emergency routing system, or the emergency handling system, displays the video feed in real time on a user device to a user associated with a user identifier (410). The system stores the video feed and associates the stored video feed with the user identifier. The user can then later authenticate the video and testify, if needed, that the user viewed the video live at the time of the emergency. In some implementations, the system receives an audio feed from the wearable camera system and stores the audio feed and associates the audio feed with the user identifier.
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Google filed their patent application back in Q2 2013. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.
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