As Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) and independent developers continue to add functionality to Google Glass, a newly granted patent may give developers and consumers a good idea of Google’s future plans for monetizing its smart glasses. Last week, Google was granted a patent originally filed in May 2011 for a “Gaze Tracking System,” which can track eye movement and pupil dilation to record a user’s engagement with advertising.
Google could use the eye tracking technology in Google Glass to know exactly when a user looks at an ad and even gauge emotional responses from consumers' levels of pupil dilation. With image recognition software in Glass, Google could also know which conventional advertisements -- billboards, magazines, newspapers, etc. -- and how they react to them.
“To date, eye tracking systems have mostly been limited to research endeavors because of the intrusiveness, high cost and reliability of these systems,” the patent says. “A technique and system that can provide a reliable, low cost and unobtrusive eye tracking system could have a variety of useful applications.”
That patent application appears to be a brand new advertising model known as “pay-per-gaze,” which could give marketers exact details of how many times their online and offline ads are viewed.
Like many aspects of Google Glass, the Gaze Tracking System is sure to attract the attention of privacy advocates and consumer watchdogs. Even Google recognized this, and included suggestions in the patent for anonymous data and the ability to opt out.
Of course, suggesting that the Gaze Tracking System will be implemented into Google Glass is pure conjecture. The glasses patent was filed in 2011 and doesn’t make a single mention of Project Glass.
This eye tracking patent also isn’t the only way Google could cash in on its newest, most intriguing piece of wearable hardware. The latest Google Glass update introduced Google Now to the device, a contextually aware assistant that advertisers can pay to have their product or service appear in customized searches and recommendations.