Late last month the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Google that reveals a simple idea of creating a common camera that could be refitted within many devices. Google notes that "Internet Protocol (IP) cameras connect to a network and transmit data using networking protocols. Many IP cameras are designed to be placed on a surface (e.g., a desktop) and as such include a flat base (which comes into contact with the desktop or other surface) which supports the camera. IP cameras so constructed cannot be easily mounted to different locations or surfaces (e.g., to a wall where drilling a hole is not possible or permitted) or used in different conditions (e.g., indoor/outdoor, night/day, mobile/stationary, etc.). New cameras and/or camera accessories which overcome some or all of these shortcomings would be desirable – and that's what they've invented.
Google notes that various embodiments of housings for a video camera are revealed. Oftentimes video cameras (especially high definition (HD) video cameras) are relatively expensive (e.g., as high as $500) and a user may not want to buy multiple cameras for different purposes.
Google's invention will allow a user to purchase multiple housings (e.g., priced on the order of $30 or less) and uses the same camera with a selected one of the housings when a certain utility or application is desired (e.g., depending upon the location to be captured by the camera or the nature of the video recording).
In some cases, a housing is semi-permanently installed or mounted in a location. For example, a user may use a camera as a security camera when the user is away on vacation or traveling for work. An outdoor housing may be kept installed or mounted near a front door or other entrance to the home, even though the user may not always use the camera as a security monitor and/or the camera may not always be in the outdoor housing. This may make it easier when the camera is used for that purpose since the camera will be pointing in the desired direction and the user does not have to re-mount the outdoor housing each time.
In some embodiments, like Google's patent FIG. 2 below, the camera #100 is used as a baby camera, for example to monitor an already-sleeping child or to confirm that a child has gone to sleep. The camera may be free standing (e.g., on a dresser) or may be mounted on a wall using mount. Other example uses include monitoring unsupervised nannies or maids, monitoring latchkey children before parents come home from work, video conferencing, pet cameras, as a store security camera to deter shoplifting or record evidence, etc.
In Google's patent FIG. 6 we're able to see an embodiment of a housing with side grippers. In the example shown, view 600a shows a front view of the exemplary housing, which includes side grippers #602 which are designed to wrap around vertical poles or bars. Some examples include attaching the exemplary housing to the side of a crib, or to the handrail of a staircase, balcony, or landing.
The side grippers (and in some embodiments, the entire housing) are made of flexible and/or material that grips, such as rubber. The side grippers are bent backwards, wrapped around the desired poles or bars, and released. The exemplary housing and the camera are relatively light so the surface friction of the side grippers is sufficient to hold the housing in place.
Google's patent FIG. 12 noted below is a diagram showing an embodiment of a housing and a tripod after being coupled together. As shown in the front view, the housing may be pivoted on the tripod stand so that the camera can be directed to point in a desired direction.
Clock Radio – Video Conferencing Device
Pet Collar Camera
Google filed their patent application back in March 2016. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.
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