Commentary

What's The Technology Behind Google's FCC Filings?

Google Now has integrated 70 additional services through a newly open API. The feature, which comes standard on Android phones, serves information based on the time of day and location. It serves up a simple dashboard of cards, each filled with timely notifications, reminders, and real-time data. What if those cards were triggered on a wearable device by a beacon using Bluetooth LE  (BLE) technology?

The Now platform gives the individual information at a glance. It is the entire interface for Android Wear devices, which continues to become more important as Google moves into wearable devices. A recent filing with the Federal Communications Commission could shed light into just how important. I'm making a connection between Google Now and the filings because of the way Google uses the cards to display on the phone.

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While the use of the technology is pure speculation, the FCC filings are real. They have little information about the technology, since Google can request the FCC to keep certain pieces of information confidential for 180 days from filing, per one source. "No surprise that the full 180 day confidentiality period was requested, as you can see in the letters posted in the record," the source said. 

The letters from Google to the FCC state the company's concerns that if the information gets released it could damage its competitive position in the marketplace. 

Some media reports suggest the filings could become the next version of Glass, but this is highly unlikely because the filing discusses BLE only, which is a "low data rate protocol used for transmission of sensor data rather than voice data, in the case of a Bluetooth wireless headset profile, or multimedia transmission." the expert said. 

Other reports suggest the technology will integrate into an activity tracker with some watch features, which is a much better fit for something based on BLE rather than base Bluetooth.

Three patent filings in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office describe BLE being used as a method for beacons to check-ins to a physical location to a remote server and then disconnects from the device.

"The exclusive use of BLE precludes Glass. BLE tends to be for Beacon devices or sensors," the person said. "Given the industry focus on watches and fitness and activity trackers, it would make sense to see such as device, especially as part of a demonstrator kit. ... "

While that may be a lot of engineering speak to the average marketer, take note of the technology behind Google Now and how it will play an important role in a Google wearable devices, especially as the company builds out its mobile Project Fi offering and Project Loon capabilities. We may never see Google use the technology briefly described in the FCC filings, but the possibilities are numerious, from healthcare and business to consumer applications. 

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