A Google patent that allows the tech giant to place relevant advertisements over a geolocation, like ads for baseball tickets on a Google Street View image of a baseball stadium, might be the start of a much more important play to make sure our coming virtual reality is full of ads.

Google demonstrates how ads might be placed on Street View. 

The patent itself is sufficiently vague so as to cover what would appear to be a broad range of advertising activities.

The clearest implications are for Google Maps and Google Glass. Whether you’re scrolling or walking around your town looking for somewhere to eat, Google could register your “user action” to bring up advertisements based on your location.

But we suspect the Google minds in Silicon Valley understand that mastering the ability to conjure up ads based on a geolocation will become ever more useful as we begin to spend more time in cyberspace.

Google has been one of the more ambitious tech firms when it comes to working on virtual reality. It built a new virtual reality camera with 16 different sensors to capture the 360 degrees of any environment. It also unveiled a cardboard VR headset to make it easier and more affordable for users to begin experiencing the new technologies, and partnered with Verizon to distribute them.

One of Google’s most striking developments surrounding VR could bear directly on this new patent. Google’s Project Tango uses an enhanced smartphone or tablet camera to construct 3D renderings of your environment. The technology had people imagining mixed-reality video games, like playing Call of Duty, but instead of dodging bullets in a fictional landscape, you could be diving for cover behind your own couch.

But it’s also possible to conceive of Google mixing advertisements into these renderings. Imagine strapping on your VR headset, heading into your kitchen and having Google pull up ads for paper towels, dish soap, and Bagel Bites. Or opening your refrigerator, and your VR headset noticing you’re out of milk, so it seeks out a local deal for you.

Of course, it’s not the sexiest view of the future, but tech didn’t just kill the arcade, it spelled the end of the mom & pop store too.

The possibilities for ads in VR are endless and, if our current lives are any indication, Google will find numerous subtle and effective ways to make us open our wallets however we end up using it.


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