5 strange patents owned by Google

A look into the future through Google’s eyes

Gadget that projects a keyboard onto your hand




Image via patentimages.storage.googleapis.com.

By now most people know of the voice and gesture-activated wearable computer with an optical head-mounted display that is Google Glass. Though the idea of this device frees us from being tied to a desk and eliminates the need to carry around a smartphone or tablet, there’s still a downside. Voice commands don’t work well in noisy environments, and for those used to typing brief emails into a computer, anything lengthier could make for quite a tricky process. But it looks like Google has a solution to that.

Just last year the tech giant filed for a patent for a technology called “Methods and Systems for a Virtual Input Device.” The patent outlines a variety of projector and camera systems that would allow a keyboard to be laser-projected onto surfaces or onto a user’s hand. According to the patent, the projected QWERTY keyboard of the Glass would measure 295 mm by 95 mm.


Electronic throat tattoo microphone



Image via wonderfulengineering.com.

Feel like you’re disconnected from the world when you’re separated from your smartphone? Someday soon you could possibly implant a microphone on your throat to take care of that issue. The 2012 application by Google’s Motorola Mobility subsidiary titled “Coupling an Electronic Skin Tattoo to a Mobile Communication Device” would attach a digital tattoo, which is essentially a tiny printed circuit, to the skin on the outside of a user’s throat. The small device would include a microphone and a wireless transmitter for relaying the sound of the user’s voice to a smartphone or other device by way of Bluetooth, Zigbee, or NFC connection. The patent includes an embedded microphone, a transceiver for enabling wireless communication, and a power supply that could run from a battery or solar power.


Floating wave-powered server farm


Image via reuters.com.

Everytime you search for something on Google, watch a video on Youtube, or send a message via Gmail, Google uses electricity to provide those services. According to pcmag.com, the global tech giant burned up about 2.26 million megawatt-hours back in 2010, which is about the quarter of the output of a typical nuclear power plant.

In 2008, Google filed a patent application for a “Water-Based Data Center,” most likely to reduce its utility bills. This data center would consist of a barge or cargo ship equipped to capture energy from tides and convert it to electricity, which would then be used to power rows of computer servers for Google’s global information network. Last fall, Google was busy constructing a four-story structure on top of a barge in the San Francisco Bay area that it chose to remain silent about. News sources also reported that a similar structure was being built in a harbor in Maine.


Image-capturing walking stick


Image via classicjunction.com

Google Maps is known for its online collection of street-level photographic panoramas, allowing users to virtually roam the many neighborhoods across the globe. Recently Google began showing off its 360-degree images of hiking trails in North America, which its photographers shot using backpack-mounted cameras.

However, in 2013 Google was granted a patent for a device that would make shooting scenic landscapes much easier. Titled “Walking Stick with IMU,” the application is a staff with embedded cameras and location sensors coupled with a switch at the bottom that causes the cameras to snap pictures whenever the stick touches the ground.


Software that splits restaurant bills


Image via scotsman.com.

It’s always great getting together with a group of friends to catch up and eat dinner at that nice restaurant in town. That is, until the bill comes and the waiter doesn’t allow the party to split checks. Usually there’s missing money and that one guy who feels ripped off. But no worries, Google’s got your back.

Last year the company applied for a patent called “Tracking and Managing Group Expenditures,” which is envisioned as an app for smartphones that could calculate how much each person owes, and also automatically transfer that amount of money to each person’s online account. The only thing left you’d need to do is convince your friends to install the app before going out to grab some food.

What do you think? Cool? Crazy? Not happening? Let us know – leave a comment below.

Originally written for Electronic Products.


  1. Zachary @zacharykreid · July 18, 2014

    Wow, exciting yet a little scary! I can just imagine a world full of people with throat microphones that record and transmit everything during the day to a cloud server. Even if you don’t have one, just having a simple conversation with these people will assure that it is saved forever. It does make me long for the days of landlines, bicycles, and snail mail a bit! heheh, but some truly cool things here, thanks for sharing!

    • Nicole DiGiose · July 18, 2014

      Hey Zachary, thanks for reading! Yes, while all of this stuff is quite mind-blowingly scary-amazing, it does make me reflect on the good old simple days.

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