Wearable technologies – Patentability of hand gestures?

$ 3 billion will be spent in 2014 on 10 million units of wearable technologies according to a Deloitte report, but the potentials of this market can be seen also through the attempts by tech companies to patent anything connected to them, including the heart gesture made in front of Google Glasses so setting a new approach for the Internet of Things!  

With the Mobile World Congress ongoing in Barcelona and the Wearable Technology Conference in London next month, the market is very much looking forward to reviewing the new creations from both technology giants and start-ups. 

I have already covered both the more general wearable technology issues and those that are specific to the usage of such technologies in the ehealth sector with the so called eHealth remote patient monitoring systems or telemedicine systems also in relation to their implications on medical devices regulations, but interestingly enough the development of such technologies is also pushing companies to identify additional ways of gaining exclusivity rights on some features embedded in wearable technologies or their types of usage.

And indeed, apparently Google received a patent on making “heart” gestures in conjunction with a head-mounted display and they are also trying to patent gesture-based car controls. Therefore, we might see people taking a picture with their Google Glasses and then “like” the picture through their heart gesture soon.

The attempts to patent hand gestures is a phenomenon that started with videogames where there is more and more an interaction between players’ body movements and the images displayed on the screen or videogames functionalities (e.g. resetting), but also Apple has already patented gestures aimed at operating their mobile devices.  However, it will be interesting to see whether such gestures would pass the patentability test in jurisdictions outside of the US and whether the usage of wearable technologies will lead to a battle between technology giants to become the first gaining exclusivity rights on a specific gesture as already happened in the trademark sector with for instance the term “glass” associated to technologies.

Wired US defined 2014 as the year of wearable technologies and in their view “Wearable Tech Will Be as Big as the Smartphone“. We will see lots around in the next months, but in the meantime feel free to contact me, Giulio Coraggio, join the IoTLaw LinkedIn Group, follow me on TwitterGoogle+ and become one of my friends on LinkedIn.

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