PayPal may be preparing to further step up its work in mobility-enabled payments with a technology patent which points to the use of AR into a shopping method. That’s because the patent, which was originally filed under patent number 9336541 with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in 2016, has received a refresh as of April. It’s worth pointing out that there’s nothing necessarily unusual about a company refreshing a patent and this could, as with all patents, ultimately amount to nothing. With that said, AR research and development has been picking up over the last several months and this patent could be exceptionally useful in that particular market. What’s more, there are similar technologies under development from others in the industry. So this refresh could hint at things to come.
The tech described in the patent is fairly straightforward. Users would effectively be provided with an AR heads-up display while looking at real-world objects and products. That would show the wearer exactly what a given object is and where it could be purchased online. Moreover, it is described being connected in such a way as to allow the user to purchase whatever that item might be, right then and there. Specifically, the wearer would be provided a kind of overlayed description of the item, along with other information they’d be provided with if they were shopping for it online. That includes an online retailer’s pricing, available options for paying for the item – most likely pulled from the wearer’s PayPal account – and the retailer’s return policies. Putting it simply, the AR system would basically act as an online storefront for the real world.
Of course, it goes without saying that there’s no way to know for certain whether PayPal is actively developing the hardware or a reference design for the system. There aren’t any such drawings or diagrams included with the patent and it seems to apply more generally to the concept itself. That doesn’t rule out the possibility but does seem to indicate that PayPal either plans to license the method out or to build an underlying system for OEMs to utilize.