Google Submits Patent For Minority Report Style Eye Tracking Device
“Head mounted” technology will relay “emotional analytics” to advertisers
Aug 15, 2013
Aug 15, 2013
While the current incarnation of Google Glass continues to prompt worry and debate as far as privacy concerns go, the company is working behind the scenes on potentially much more disturbing technology, as revealed by a recently underreported patent application.
The patent filing describes a “head mounted device”, for example hi-tech glasses, that would have the ability to track eye movement, effectively monitoring reactions to external stimuli, including changes in emotion.
The patent indicates that Google would use the technology to analyze reactions to advertisements that the user is watching on a television, computer, or other viewing device.
The application notes that miniscule inward facing cameras would track pupil dilation and feed back the information to a web connected server.
The patent states:
A gaze tracking technique is implemented with a head mounted gaze tracking device that communicates with a server. The server receives scene images from the head mounted gaze tracking device which captures external scenes viewed by a user wearing the head mounted device. The server also receives gaze direction information from the head mounted gaze tracking device.
The gaze direction information indicates where in the external scenes the user was gazing when viewing the external scenes. An image recognition algorithm is executed on the scene images to identify items within the external scenes viewed by the user. A gazing log tracking the identified items viewed by the user is generated.
The patent filing also notes that the technology would have the capability of monitoring what the user was watching and how long they watched it for. This would effectively allow Google to generate the relevant analytics to charge advertisers based on how long a user looks at an advertisement.
“The inferred emotional state information can be provided to an advertiser so that the advertiser can gauge the success of their advertising campaign.” the patent states.
The application also states that users would be able to access a “gazing log” that would track everything they had previously looked at, much like a web browser history log.
While the application states that personal data would be removed from any data provided to advertisers, the idea of literally having one’s memories and experiences “captured” by such a device will be enough to spur opposition among anyone who values privacy.
“It’s shocking to think that people who will be buying Google Glass may end up having their own eyeballs monitored by Google. This is the kind of monitoring you would expect in a science fiction film. It’s Minority Report for profit.” Nick Pickles of Big Brother Watch said.
Those concerns are well founded given that this week alone, Google admitted that it uses computer programmes to read emails sent by Gmail for advertising purposes.
In a court filing, Google said: “All users of email must necessarily expect that their emails will be subject to automated processing.”
Google’s intimate relationship with the NSA and other spy US agencies should also set alarm bells ringing. The intelligence agencies’ desire to have an internet of things spying on everything anyone does is facilitated perfectly by the technology Google describes.
Google’s long term obsession with monitoring users for advertising purposes has seen the company apply to patent all manner of bizarre technologies, including software and devices that use the ambient background noise of a person’s environment to spy on their activities in order to direct targeted advertising at them.
The tech giant has led the way, with rivals such as Verizon and Microsoft (both also embroiled in the NSA PRISM scandal) now also looking to implement technology that effectively turns TV’s, gaming devices, phones and all manner of technological gadgets into wiretaps.
Microsoft has also recently submitted a patent for a wearable device that tracks eye movement and gestures.