As patent issues would have it, it’s not always as simple as companies patenting technology they’ve already worked on and created. An entire industry of patent trolling has been created by the simple fact that you can patent a technology or design even without actually having developed or built on it. And then once another company has found an actual application, you can then charge licensing fees (or sue).
Such has been the basis of the dozens and dozens of patent lawsuits flying around each year, some of them costing billions of dollars in settlements, legal fees, opportunity costs from the market, as well as headaches. With augmented-reality wearable-tech just around the corner, Google Glass seems to be the next favorite target for potential patent lawsuits. One such case: Japan’s Masayoshi Son.
Masayoshi-san happens to be one of the wealthiest persons in Japan, and is the founder and CEO of telecom company SoftBank. Readers may have heard of him from our recent coverage of SoftBank’s bids to acquire MetroPCS and subsequently to acquire Sprint. Apparently, one of the first deals that got him to where he is today is his sale of a translation device and patent to Sharp back decades ago, which eventually made their way to the Sharp Wizard and Sharp PDAs. You probably get where we’re leading at: this time around, Masayoshi says he has actually patented the technology behind the augmented-reality translation in Google Glass.
Masayoshi outlined his vision for the next 30 years in a two-hour speech, where he outlined science- and technology-based aspirations for these coming decades. He says he does not want to be simply considered as a futurist, but rather as one who actually executes ideas. In the middle of the presentation, he highlighted the planned “Translation Eyeglasses with Captions” which he says is patented technology.
By the way, we’ve already taken out a patent on this — translation glasses with captions.
Granted, Google’s development of Glass is already underway, and the search giant is likely to have enough resources to either get into a licensing deal, battle it out in court, or simply just circumvent whatever technology has been patented by Masayoshi (which you can check out via the Ekouhou.net link).
Of course, translation is just one of the many features and opportunities that Google Glass can offer. But it’s certainly among the more intriguing and interesting ones, especially in the context of unified communications. Whichever way this potential patent issues go, it’s a clear indication that live translation via augmented reality is something that futurists have been looking into, and which Google actually has the clout and ability to execute. This is the future, folks. It’s only a matter of time until we all embrace it.