10 Weird Patents That Google Owns

Gadget That Projects Keyboard Onto Your Hand
Google founder Sergey Brin poses for a portrait wearing Google Glasses. The virtual keyboard would solved the problem of sending a message without having a hand-held device handy. © CARLO ALLEGRI/Reuters/Corbis

Google Glass, the technology giant's realized vision of a wearable, voice and gesture-activated computer with an optical head-mounted display that would resemble a pair of eyeglasses, would make us all into the equivalent of Tony Stark in the "Iron Man" movies.

But while that might theoretically free us from being deskbound and even from having to carry hand-held devices such as smartphones and tablets, in practice there still would be a tricky downside. If you're in a noisy environment, voice commands aren't going to work very well, and dictating anything longer than a brief e-mail is going to be a clumsy process for people who've spent their whole lives typing stuff into a conventional computer.

Not to worry, though. In 2013, Google filed for a patent for a technology called "Methods and Systems for a Virtual Input Device," in which the Google Glass headset would project a virtual keyboard onto a user's hand, turning it into a virtual smartphone-style touchscreen for the user's other hand [source: Newton].