On August 17- 2013, Google announced they had been awarded the patent for the “Gaze Tracking System.” Their announcement caused a media stir of predictions and discussion on how the gaze mechanism could possibly revolutionize offline advertisement viewing and forever change the world of advertising.
A copy of the patent can be easily accessed for public viewing on the website of the US Patent and Trademark Office. It is interesting to note that the patent does not specifically mention Google Glass by name; it does however feature several drawings that show a traditional two-lens eyeglass device that bears great resemblance to Google Glass technology.
The mechanism of Gaze Tracking will give companies the ability to track and bill offline advertisement viewing in a manner similar to the current measurement of online advertisement tracking schemes. The concept of Pay-per-gaze advertising means that Google will be able to monitor and track what advertisements people are looking at and how they interact with them.
If the presence of Google Glass becomes widespread, Google will be able to accumulate powerful market knowledge each time a Glass-wearing individual views an ad online, or in real life.
The Pay-per-gaze advertising will apply to online advertisements and extend to conventional advertisement media including billboards, magazines, newspapers and other forms of conventional print media.
It is predicted that Google may then start charging advertisers a “pay-per-gaze” fee based on whether a person looks directly at an ad in the real world, and the fee would be relative to and based on how long the user interacts with the ad.
There are future speculations on how future and improved versions of Google Glass may be able to read a wearer’s generated emotional response to the ad by relying on information regarding pupil dilation and eye-movement to measure emotional response. It is also predicted that Google Glass users in the future can opt out of “pay-per-gaze” tracking which will allow for their collected data to remain anonymous.
The patent also includes a provision for latent pre-searching and augmented search results. It is predicted that when a Google Glass wearer looks at an image in the real world, they will also be able to see additional virtual information based on a search query. The data on these searches would, of course, be stored and could be used for future ad-targeting.
For now, Google claims to have no plans to use the gaze tracking system patent, arguing that several patented ideas never become actual products or services. Google Glass is currently an ad free environment and their terms of service prohibit app developers from including, charging for or selling apps or ads. The general assumption is that Google in the near future may eventually permit ads in order to develop a core advertising business.