In the wake of lots of buzz surrounding last week’s news that Google has been granted a patent for “pay-per-gaze” advertising, sources at Google tell us that the company has no plans now or in the foreseeable future to use the patent.
As we (and others) reported last week, Google’s patent — which it filed in 2011 — describes a method for “pay-per-gaze advertising” associated with eye-tracking sensors on eyeglasses that have at least one forward-facing camera. The patent didn’t specifically mention Google Glass by name, and the drawings show a traditional two-lens eyeglass device, but several of the technological descriptions in the patent describe what Google Glass has become.
With “pay-per-gaze advertising,” advertisers would be charged when a user sees an ad while wearing the eyeglass device, whether online or offline. Ad costs would be relative to how long the user saw the ad and what kind of emotional response it generated.
But Google tells us that it has no plans to use the patent and, in an official statement, says that some patented ideas never become actual products or services.
We hold patents on a variety of ideas. Some of those ideas later mature into real products or services, some don’t. Prospective product announcements should not necessarily be inferred from our patents.
Glass is currently an ad-free environment, and Google’s terms of service for Glass developers currently forbids them from including ads in apps and from charging for apps. But whether pay-per-gaze advertising ever becomes reality or not, industry observers that I’ve spoken to and read don’t expect Glass to be ad-free forever.