With all the recent activity around augmented reality, the possibilities involving immersive computing and commerce are quickly becoming obvious, and digital payments giant PayPal has no plans to sit on the sidelines
The company has been granted an augmented reality patent, which was filed back in 2016, that details an "augmented reality view of product instructions."
Surfaced by financial news site CNBC, the patent offers a fairly broad description of how the AR dynamic would work.
"In a system for presenting augmented reality views of product instructions a method may include receiving a request from a client device, the request including image data," reads the patent's description section. "The method may further include identifying an object in the image data and generating an augmented reality view of the identified object. The method may further include transmitting the augmented reality view to the client device."
The patent, which was granted just a few days ago (April 24), also gets specific about which kind of "client devices" the AR system would use, mentioning laptops, tablets, and mobile phones in the range of possible use cases.
Another patent, granted in February of this year, offers even more insight into PayPal's plans. The other patent, titled "using augmented reality for electronic commerce transactions," deals with the heart of PayPal's current business model as it evolves in the future.
"Systems, methods, and computer program products for identifying objects of interest and providing relevant information about the objects of interest using augmented reality devices are disclosed," is how the patent is described. "For example, a computer-implemented method may include identifying an object of interest among a plurality of objects present in an image view, determining real-time information for the object of interest based on the identifying, presenting the determined real-time information for the object of interest as part of the image view, and processing a transaction involving the object of interest based on a user selection associated with the image view."
One of the drawings included along with that particular patent depicts a person using a mobile phone or a pair of AR smartglasses to interact with a city bus to determine the route of that bus and the fare necessary to reach the user's destination.
Because of these patents, some are speculating that the company may be preparing to launch a pair of AR smartglasses. But since PayPal, and its parent company eBay, aren't known for manufacturing hardware — or even software that's not directly related to the company's primary commerce products — this patent update could be more of a strategic, license-based leveraging move. They could use the patents to work with companies with a background in producing wearable tech (like Apple), but it shouldn't be seen as an indication that PayPal is planning to create a wearable AR product (although, anything is possible).
In a world full of AR transactions, licensing various ways to interact with virtual objects and products via mobile devices will be key to the future of AR and mobile commerce in general.
So no, don't hold your breath waiting for PayPal AR smartglasses, but you can absolutely expect the company to be at the center of AR-powered transactions in the coming months and years.
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