Google is another technological innovator whose name comes up often every week at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, as they are in the habit of protecting many aspects of their Android system and various other Internet developments. This week, the USPTO published 9 patent applications assigned to the firm. Some of these improve user interfaces associated with touchscreen displays or head-mounted displays. Google also received 25 patents this week, including one that looks to improve online systems of user review for products.
System and Method for Targeting Customers Who Invite Other Customers to a Business
U.S. Patent Application No. 20130066696
Social media has proven to be a huge boon for businesses who can get word-of-mouth to spread faster than television or print advertisements. Businesses often use their social media presence to offer giveaways to customers, which helps encourage others to follow the business if they believe they might benefit in some way. A user can also check-in to a business establishment through social media, which helps spread the word to their social media contacts.
Google’s hoping to protect a system of rewarding customers for using social media to build exposure for a business. This system keeps track of check-ins, tags and other digital footprints left by social media users that involve the place of business. If a customer’s check-in is followed quickly by many other check-ins from people within the initial individual’s social network, the business could decide to send a promotional coupon or other digital item directly to the first individual who attracted the new business.
As Claim 1 describes, Google wants to protect:
“A computer-implemented method for rewarding subscribed users who invite other users to a business establishment, the method comprising: receiving an indication that a subscribed user is at a business establishment; receiving a signal that one or more other users arrived at the business establishment within a predetermined period of time after the indication was received from the subscribed user; and sending an offering to the subscribed user in response to receiving the signal.”
Pinch to Adjust
U.S. Patent Application No. 20130067400
Google is interested in protecting a smarter system of touchscreen zooming that promises to provide a smarter response to a device user’s touch input. Users of electronic devices that utilize touchscreens are widely familiar with the use of “pinching” the screen with their forefinger and thumb to zoom in or out from the screen display. However, in most cases, this only affects the size of the entire image or document and not a certain section of interest to the user.
This new system devised by Google allows users the ability to enlarge defined content areas individually. For instance, in a message list interface, a user could pinch within a specific text message to zoom in or out of that specific entry, leaving the other texts the exact same size.
Claim 1 of this Google patent application seeks to protect:
“A computer-implemented method, comprising: displaying, on a multi-touch input device, a plurality of content areas, wherein each content area is displayed with a respective initial viewable amount of text that is a subset of the respective first amount of text; receiving an on-screen pinch gesture for expanding a size of each of the content areas, the on-screen pinch gesture being associated with a first location and a second location, the second location being different from the first location on the multi-touch input device; and for each of the plurality of content areas: expanding a respective size of the respective content area based on the on-screen pinch gesture; and displaying an increased viewable amount of text in the respective expanded content area based on the expanded size of the content area, wherein the increased viewable amount of text is a larger subset of the respective first amount of text than the initial viewable amount of text, and a character size of the increased viewable amount of text is substantially equal to a character size of the original viewable amount of text.”
User Interface for Translation Webpage
U.S. Patent Application No. 20130067307
Online language translation tools have been available for years, and Google offers some translation services for free directly through its website. In most cases, users have the option to translate either text or an entire webpage from one language into another. Often, translation choices are available through a dropdown menu that indicates what language the text is in, and which language will be used to translate (i.e.: “English to French,” “French to Spanish,” etc.).
Google’s user interface design innovation hopes to give users a better ability to customize their translation experience within a simpler design. The webpage contains a text box input where the text to be translated can be entered. Above this are located different boxes that a user selects to indicate which language to translate from. On the opposite side of the page exists the text box that displays the translated text and other boxes that indicate which language the text is translated into.
As Claim 1 explains, Google has designed:
“A computer-implemented method comprising: receiving, at a server, a request for a translation webpage from a user interacting with a user device to initiate a user session; generating, at the server, a user interface webpage for the translation webpage, the user interface webpage including: (i) a text input portion, (ii) a translated text output portion, (iii) a source language selection portion, and (iv) a target language selection portion, wherein the source language selection portion includes: (a) a quick source language selection icon identifying a first potential source language, and (b) a source language selection list including a plurality of potential source languages, and wherein the target language selection portion includes (a) a quick target language selection icon identifying a first potential target language, and (b) a target language selection list including a plurality of potential target languages; determining the potential source language and the potential target language based on a stored history of the user, the stored history including at least one of: (i) preferences of the user, (ii) source languages previously selected by the user, and (iii) target languages previously selected by the user; providing, from the server, the user interface webpage to the user device; receiving, at the server, a translation request from the user interacting with the user interface webpage displayed at the user device, the translation request including a text portion in a source language, a source language identification that identifies the source language, and a target language identification that identifies a target language in which the user desires to have the text portion translated; providing a translated text output to the user device based on the translation request, the translated text output corresponding to a translation of the text portion from the source language to the target language; and updating the stored history based on the source language identification and the target language identification such that the source language selection portion and the target language selection portion dynamically update during the user session.”
Optical Display System and Method with Virtual Image Contrast Control
U.S. Patent Application No. 20130063486
Computer systems can be implemented with a form of clothing or accessory to create a wearable computer instrument that can be helpful to users. For instance, computer chips installed in jogging shoes can help runners get access to important information about distance traveled, acceleration, average speed and more.
Google is developing a system of creating a wearable optical display, referred to as a head-mounted display (HMD). Schematic images attached to the patent application indicate that the product would resemble a pair of glass lenses resting on a user’s face. Computer elements included with the HMD would create a digital display that appears on the lenses directly, allowing a user to see the display overlapped over the physical world beyond the lenses.
Claim 1 of this Google patent application describes:
“A method comprising: generating a light pattern using a display panel; forming a virtual image from the light pattern utilizing one or more optical components, wherein the virtual image is viewable from a viewing location; receiving external light from a real-world environment incident on an optical sensor, wherein the real-world environment is viewable from the viewing location; obtaining an image of the real-world environment from the received external light; identifying a background feature in the image of the real-world environment over which the virtual image is overlaid; extracting one or more visual characteristics of the background feature; comparing the one or more visual characteristics to an upper threshold value and a lower threshold value; and controlling the generation of the light pattern based on the comparison.”
Ranking Authors and Their Content in the Same Framework
U.S. Patent No. 8396879
This is only one of Google’s 25 patents issued by the USPTO this week, but this patent has the potential to create a completely new ranking system for user comments that helps users distinguish good reviews from bad ones. Many online stores offer users the ability to comment freely on items they’ve purchased through that store. However, comments can often carry unseen bias; for instance, the reviewer may be an employee of the company that produces the item or a friend of the business owner.
Google is looking to add an extra dimension to the system of user comments by creating a system that allows other users to rank those who leave comments. Individual users who found a comment to be poor can give that comment a particular score or rank. The average score of a reviewer’s comments can be determined by this system and applied to the user’s reputation. This would help other users gain a better understanding of which comments are trustworthy.
Claim 1 of this intellectual property patent protects:
“A method performed by one or more server devices, the method comprising: calculating, using a processor of the one or more server devices, first ranking scores for a plurality of users and second ranking scores for a plurality of comments authored by the plurality of users, the calculating including: representing each user, of the plurality of users, as a first node, representing each comment, of the plurality of comments, as a second node, forming first edges from the first nodes to the second nodes based on first relationships between the first nodes and the second nodes, forming second edges from the second nodes to the first nodes based on the first relationships, forming third edges from one or more first nodes to one or more other first nodes based on second relationships between the one or more first nodes and the one or more other first nodes, assigning first initial values to the first nodes and second initial values to the second nodes, the first initial values being calculated for each user, of the plurality of users, based on signals associated with the user; the second initial values being calculated for each comment, of the plurality of comments, based on signals associated with the comment, and running iterations of a graph algorithm using values of the first nodes and second nodes to obtain the first ranking scores and the second ranking scores, the iterations being run until: values of the nodes converge, or a number of iterations has been performed, and running the iterations causing a portion of each of the first initial values and a portion of each of the second initial values to be transferred based on the first edges, the second edges, and the third edges; and providing, using a processor of the one or more server devices, one of: a first ranked list that includes information identifying the plurality of users, the information identifying the plurality of users being ordered based on the first ranking scores, or a group of comments of the plurality of comments, the comments in the group of comments being ordered based on the second ranking scores.”