The VICE Channels

    Google Patented the 'Heart' Gesture and Other Fun Hand Moves

    Written by

    Derek Mead


    Quick futuro-philosophical question: Will we reach a point where everything is patented? Okay, I don't know, but I do know that Google today received a patent on making 'heart' gestures in conjunction with a head-mounted display. If Google ever decides to put this feature to use, you may end up one day aiming your curled hands at some object, and Google Glass would know that you 'like' it. And this would only work on Google devices, because of the patent. What a world!

    But there's far more to the patent dug up by the good folks at Engadget. The patent, filed on July 8, 2011, covers myriad gestures for a head-mounted display (HMD), all of which Google now controls. It's interesting insight into the Glass development cycle—engineers were developing gesture recognition a couple years before its release, but the work has yet to be put to use. It also offers potential ramifications for the next stage of the burgeoning virtual reality scene; will Oculus have to navigate a patent minefield iff it wants to add gesture recognition to its future headsets?

    More importantly in the immediate scope of this post, what kinds of gestures can even be patented? Ah, well let me show you:

    So this move looks like Google patented the Shooter McGavin-style indiscriminate-machine-gun gesture, but rest assured, that's still allowed. According to the patent filing, "FIG. 5 illustrates an example wearable head-mounted display worn by a representation of an example user who is depicted as making an example hand gesture, according to an example embodiment." Got it?

    Here's the heart thing in action. The patent filing language makes clear that the HMD could recognize this gesture and potentially its content (in this case, a Mozart content) and post said content to social media along with "an indication that the image is 'liked.'" It's certainly intuitive, but as Motherboard video editor Chris O'Coin just mentioned, patenting the hand gesture is going to make "EDM kids lose they mind."

    This isn't so much a hand gesture as it is this dude tripping out trying to wrangle his hands into a proper L shape. Come on guy, you can do it! Wrangle that hand!

    Figure 7 here shows how a user can make an L shape with their fingers. Why would he or she?

    Why, to frame things for a photo, just like real Hollywood directors. This is pretty clever stuff, as I imagine framing with Glass—not having a lens to physically zoom out or anything—would be kinda annoying. Just doing it with your hands is easy as pie.

    You can also do it one handed.

    But perhaps the coolest part is you can lasso stuff to crop out just what you want. What would your favorite application of the "Glasso" be?

    Figure 3 doesn't really show any gestures, but I thought it was notable to show how wide-eyed these users are. They just mainlined some future, baby!