Google hasn’t been very successful when it comes to “wearables,” but that’s not stopping the company’s engineers from dreaming up creative ways to incorporate computing devices into various accessories.
The latest example: A baseball cap with a video camera mounted on the brim.
Google was granted a patent for the headwear on Tuesday.
According to the patent, Google’s removable hat-mounted camera would be used for capturing photos and videos, which you can upload and stream directly to social media platforms. To do so, the camera would connect to a wearer’s mobile device via an app.
- US Patent Office/Google
Audio often accompanies video, and Google thought of that by vibrating the sound directly into your skull.
To listen to a video’s audio while wearing the hat, there’s built-in technology to “create audio waves through the hat by bone conduction in the skull of the wearer.” (Google has used similar technology in Google Glass, its earlier effort creating a wearable gadget). In the patent, Google also describes that the wearer would be able to record audio for videos with a built-in microphone.
Google’s hat-camera is a similar concept to Snap’s Spectacles, which can take photos and videos that are specifically tailored to the Snapchat app, like 10-second videos. Content from Spectacles is similarly transmitted directly to a user’s mobile device through the Snapchat app.
It’s not clear from the patent if Google envisions creating its own Snapchat-like app to be used with the hat-camera, or if it would connect to other apps.
The camera-hat design is also a similar concept to action cameras and wearable mounts, like GoPro products. However, most action cameras with live streaming capabilities can only stream live to YouTube. Few, if any, can stream directly to social media networks like Facebook.
- Thomson Reuters
That said, Facebook began testing ways to let app developers to build Facebook Live streaming capabilities into their apps. Google’s hat-camera could take advantage of such a development.
This isn’t Google’s first foray into video and photographic wearables. Google’s own Google Glasses also had a camera that could connect to mobile devices.
- Google+ / Google Glass
Google Glass, however, was a failed project largely due to its high $1,500 price tag and their overly gadget-y design. Snap’s spectacles, on the other hand, are much cheaper at $130, and have a more stylish design.
The images in the patent don’t paint Google’s hat-camera as a very stylish device. It looks like a somewhat clunky camera attachment on the brim of a baseball cap. Still, it’s only a patent for now, so there’s no guarantee Google will ever move forward and build such a product. If Google was to go through with its development, we’d hope the hat-camera’s design would be more attractive.
Another interesting use for the hat-camera described in the patent by Google is that it can be used in emergency situations. In an emergency, the hat-camera would activate the video camera and audio, and send the “geographic location and the video feed to the emergency situation server system.”