Google has been granted patents for a device that could monitor users' eyes and emotional reactions in order to deliver accurate advertising campaign analytics.
The patents, which Google applied for in 2011, show images of a Google Glass-style headset, which would keep track of users' eye movements. It describes the idea as a "gaze-tracking device that communicates with a server", which in turn keeps track of what the user looks at, creating a "gazing log" for advertisers.
In addition, the patent discusses going even further with the technology, introducing the idea of a sensor that keeps track of pupil dilation in order to judge the effectiveness of ad campaigns. "For example, if the advertiser desires to generate a shocking advertisement to get noticed or a thought-provoking advertisement, then the inferred emotional state information and/or the gazing duration may be valuable metrics to determine the success of the campaign with real-world consumers," the patent notes.
The patent document notes that privacy would be taken into account. "Personal identifying data may be removed from the data and provided to the advertisers as anonymous analytics," it said.
"In one embodiment, users may be given opt-in or opt-out privileges to control the type of data being gathered, when the data is being gathered, or how the gathered data may be used or with whom it may be shared."
A business model behind the technology was also outlined, suggesting that the price of each gaze could change depending on the level of interaction. "[An] additional feature of a pay-per-gaze advertising scheme may include setting billing thresholds or scaling billing fees dependent upon whether the user looked directly at a given advertisement item, viewed the given advertisement item for one or more specified durations, and/or the inferred emotional state of the user while viewing a particular advertisement."
While the patent does not refer to Google's augmented reality Glass headwear, the images show head-mounted hardware, which looks remarkably similar to Glass, suggesting that future iterations of the gadget could include this technology.
Glass has provoked ire from both privacy bodies and government departments, with the UK's Department for Transport admitting it was looking to ban the use of Glass while driving before the device arrives in the UK.