You step outside and notice something flying above. What is that? It slowly hovers onto your neighbor’s porch, drops off a package, and then quickly returns back up into the sky.
You’re still looking up as you step over the curb. Suddenly, you hear a squeal as a car screeches to a stop. You look for the driver so you can thank him for his lightening quick reflexes — yet you notice that the front seat is empty, with no driver in sight.
Flying machines that deliver packages? Self-driving cars that avoid collisions? These are only two of the exciting technologies that we know to expect thanks to recent patent filings from tech giants Google and Amazon.
This might sound like science fiction, but it’s quickly becoming science fact.
Amazon: The Future Delivered with “Bring it to Me”
Amazon’s recent patent application (20150120094) describes a feature called "Bring It To Me," which uses your mobile phone’s GPS data to determine your current location and send your delivery, via drone, to wherever you might be located. It adapts to your current location — even if you moved away from the location when you placed your order.
Google: “Safe to Cross” Vehicle-Mounted Screens
Google’s self-driving cars have been in the news for several years, but many have often wondered how they would avoid hitting unpredictable pedestrians. Those concerns might be alleviated as Google was recently granted a patent (09196164) to address these issues. In their patent Google describes vehicle-mounted screens to tell pedestrians when it’s safe to cross. In addition to visual cues, Google’s patent describes calling out alerts, such as “coming through” or “safe to cross.” With sight and sound covered, Google tackles touch with a system that uses a robotic hand and eyes to gesture at pedestrians and make them aware that the car “sees” them.
IBM: Emotionally Intelligent Banking
Increased automation doesn’t mean there’s no room left for emotion. IBM is looking to use emotions to make banking more secure. IBM’s new patent, Application No. 20150066764, entitled “Multi Factor Authentication Rule-Based Intelligent Bank Cards” will verify your identity by comparing it against an image on file, it will also compare your emotion with the emotion on file, and lastly, it will look for signs of fear or anxiety that could be the result of a fraudulent purchase with a stolen card.
Amazon: 3-D Augmented Reality Environments
Amazon is coming to a living room near you. The Seattle-based retail giant recently filed a patent (09204121) to create a 3D “enhanced augmented reality environment that includes a projection, reflection, and camera system.” Amazon’s indoor enhanced reality might be the best way to ensure we don’t get in the way of their delivery drones or test the efficacy of Google’s collision avoidance systems.
The future is on its way. And thanks to patents, we know what to expect.
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