A new patent by Google could change the face of billboards, shop-fronts and signs in the company's mapping projects in the future, creating an alternate virtual marketing space for advertisers and brand-owners.

The patent, granted to Google on January 7, copyrights the technology used to map out and identify "a region of interest in the geographic view including at least a portion of a real property region"..."receiving data to alter at least one of the behaviour[s] or the appearance of the region of interest; storing the data in association with the geographic view; and updating the region of interest within the geographic view based upon the received data."

For consumers, this means that obsolete billboard images currently shown on Google's Street View could, in the future, be replaced by virtual advertising. The augmented reality street view could include advertising targeted to "receptive audiences" and could be shown in the form of static ads, video ads, and audio messages.

The full patent application can be viewed here: http://appft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&u=/netahtml/PTO/search-adv.html&r=2&p=1&f=G&l=50&d=PG01&S1=google.AS.&OS=an/google&RS=AN/google