Monday, June 7, 2010

Don't nod when you can wink

What does that expression have to do with intellectual property? Well, Amazon's Jeff Bezos has invented a method of interacting with a graphical user interface by figuring out how the user's facial features change (smile, nod, etc.) and reacting to that. He filed this patent application in December, 2008, and it published last month (patent applications generally publish 18 months after they've been filed). The application, titled "Movement Recognition as Input Mechanism" has the following steps in its first method claim:
  1. obtain a first image of a facial feature
  2. obtain a second image of the same facial feature
  3. analyze the two images to see how the facial feature has changed
  4. alter information on the graphical user interface based, at least in part, on the facial feature
There are some other limitations in the applied-for claim (notably, the computer must be a portable computing device and the graphical user interface doesn't display a representation of either or both of the 2 images of the facial feature). There are also claims directed to a method of typing by essentially displaying a bunch of letters/digits on the screen and detecting a change in orientation of the screen (i.e. the user is tilting the device) to figure out which letters the user wants to enter.

So, no more 1-click -- going forward we'll look at the product we want to buy, smile at it, and 2 days later it'll show up at our front door. Cool stuff.

You can read the application either at the Patent Office or FreePatentsOnline or just skim through the pictures below.

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