Google Maps Grand Canyon

Google has already started to expand its StreetView system beyond roads, capturing 360-degree images of trails in North America using gigantic backpack contraptions such as the one above. But a new patent received by the company points to a far more elegant solution.

It’s a walking stick with embedded cameras and location sensors, and a switch at the bottom that causes the device to snap pictures whenever the stick hits the ground.


The patent for a Walking Stick with an IMU (inertial measurement unit) was granted to Google this morning, based on an application submitted in September 2011.

The patent isn’t limited to walking sticks, also covering objects such as “a cane, a crutch, a monopod, a trekking pole, a staff, or a rod.” The patent filing notes that some of these options, such as the trekking pole, would allow the device to collapse for portability.

We’ve sent a message to the company asking if it plans to implement this new approach. In the meantime, if you’re really concerned about privacy, keep a close eye on what the people around you on the trails this summer are using to get around!


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  • Guest

    This is the same company that talks about meritless patents and how badly the system is broken, right? Pot, meet kettle.

    • Kevin Pierce

      It’s not meritless if they build and use it.

    • WernerCD

      If you can’t tell the difference between a patent on software (like Amazon’s 1-Click patent or Apples Rubber Band patent – both common sense and purely software)… and a patent on hardware (like this *OBJECT*)… then you have no input on the matter.

      Software should be covered by Copyright. Patents cover inventions, copyright covers written works.

  • rjc1008

    Is this for operator convenience or as an undercover device? If the latter, then why? Surely Google will be obtaining permission before using something like this on private property for example.

  • Reginald V. Finley

    I want one. :-) Oh wait. I don’t go anywhere.

  • WalkingSticksOnline

    This type of cane, known as a system stick, is a cane that either hides something inside or converts into another object. From 1870 to 1915 over 1500 patents were granted for system canes and the variety is incredible. There were telescopes, fans, perfume bottles, opium holders, dressage whips, trumpets, periscopes, a London cab hailer, compass, apple corer, ligther, bottle opener, cuttlery set, whistles, saws, umbrellas, ear trumpet (hearing aid), gof clubs, snooker cues, seats and backgammon sets.

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