Google Inc. is one of the dominant corporations in the Internet industry. This company is responsible for many popular Internet-based technologies, such as Google Drive and the Android operating system for handheld electronic devices. In early September, the company announced that the one billionth Android device had been activated for use. The company has been making waves in other industries as well, and by 2017 Google hopes to have made self-driving cars commercially available.
In IPWatchdog’s Companies We Follow series, we return to take a look at this American-based corporation to see some of the future of Internet technologies we can expect to see come out of Mountain View, California, where Google is headquartered. As always, we take a look at some patent applications and issued patents published by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office and assigned to Google.
A few of the patent applications from Google we’re looking at today focus on improvements to mobile devices of various kinds. One patent application would protect a system of improving security measures for a portable device based on the device’s actual location. Another application would aid the image capture process on a mobile device based on the user’s field of vision. Other patent documents we feature discuss improvements created by applied computer analysis of various network data. One patent application filed by Google would allow users to monetize pictures that they share on social networks. We also explore a patent application that gives advertisers better insight into the demographics of a certain television show’s audience. But the reference that was by far the most eye-catching was an issued patent that gives Google the right to protect a system of paying tax for the recipient of a gift card, instead of that tax being applied to the recipient’s purchases.
U.S. Patent No. 8515829
Gift cards are a popular choice among many people who want to buy a present for another person. Typically, these gift cards are offered by financial institutions and can be used anywhere, or by specific retailers for use in that particular retail store. Unfortunately, the price of the gift card doesn’t take into consideration the tax paid by the recipient when that person uses the card for purchases.
The USPTO recently awarded a patent to Google for a system of providing tax payment on a gift card so that a recipient isn’t forced to pay tax on their purchases. This system requires a gift purchaser to provide the location of the recipient. The recipient’s location is analyzed to determine what taxing authorities have jurisdiction in that area, as well as the local tax rate. When the tax rate is determined, the extra amount of tax is added to the gift card’s price when purchased.
Claim 1 of this patent gives Google the right to protect:
“A method performed by one or more processing devices, comprising: presenting media content via an audio/visual display to a purchaser; presenting to the purchaser, at a point during presentation of the media content, an option to purchase the media content as a gift; in response to presentation of the option, receiving, from the purchaser, information for purchasing the media content as a gift for a recipient; issuing, to the recipient, a token that is redeemable to obtain the gift; and requesting payment for the gift from the purchaser, the payment consisting of a cost of the gift and a tax imposed by a jurisdiction in which the token is redeemed.”
Monetizing Images in Publishing Networks
U.S. Patent Application No. 20130226711
Online social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are often used by members to share various types of multimedia content with their contacts. This social connection is powerful enough that a photo shared by one user can easily be seen by hundreds of contacts, especially if people like or comment on the photo. In many cases, a photo may depict a product or service offered by a company.
This patent application has been filed by Google to protect a system of attaching an advertiser to a photo shared online so as to monetize the picture. A computer processor connected to the social media server would analyze picture data to determine any images associated with an advertiser. A user can choose to associate an advertiser link with the image, from which they can earn money based on viewer clicks.
Claim 1 of this Google patent application would protect:
“A method performed by one or more computing devices, the method comprising: receiving, using the one or more computing devices, image data associated with a first user identifier, the image data defining an image that depicts, in part, an object associated with an advertiser; receiving, at the one or more computing devices, a definition of a bounded region in which the object is located, the bounded region being a sub-portion of an entire portion of the image; receiving, at the one or more computing devices, an association of the image data with the advertiser; providing the image data for presentation on a user device associated with a second user identifier that is different from the first user identifier; receiving, at the one or more computing devices, from the user device associated with the second user identifier, selection data indicating a selection of the image within the sub-portion of the image; and in response to receiving the selection data, crediting an account associated with the first user identifier.”
Inferring Demographic Compositions of Television Audiences
U.S. Patent Application No. 20130227601
Television audience demographics are very important pieces of data for advertisers. In order to make sure that a commercial reaches its intended audience, an advertiser will want to know the audience makeup for a particular television program before buying any advertising time. Ratings systems that determine the number of viewers for a particular show are fairly accurate, but there are no good current methods for determining a particular audience’s demographic.
Google has filed this patent application with the USPTO to protect a system of estimating demographic information based on ratings data. The ratings data collected by companies includes information on channel tune records, which indicates a viewer’s activity in regards to flipping through stations. The pattern of channel tune changes can be analyzed to estimate demographic information about particular viewers.
As Claim 1 states, Google wants to patent:
“A system, comprising: a data processing apparatus; and software stored on a computer readable medium comprising instructions executable by the one or more processing devices and upon such execution cause the data processing apparatus to perform operations comprising: identifying a first television program, the first television program being a television program for which the demographics of a viewing audience of the first television program is determined to be not reliably specified in ratings data; identifying first channel tune records for viewing devices from viewing device reporting data, each first channel tune record identifying a television channel change to a broadcast of the first television program from a broadcast of a respective second television program, each respective second television program having ratings data that specifies demographics of a viewing audience of the respective second television program; identifying second channel tune records for viewing devices from the viewing device reporting data, each second channel tune record identifying a television channel change from a broadcast of the first television program to a broadcast of a third television program, the third television program having ratings data that specifies demographics of a viewing audience of the third television program; and estimating, from the first and second channel tune records, the demographics of the viewing audience of the first television program.”
Location-Based Security System for Portable Electronic Device
U.S. Patent Application No. 20130219454
Security features have been developed for portable electronic devices as these items have become more expensive and functional. The many different jobs that a smartphone or tablet computer can handle, as well as their easy portability, make them a favorite target among thieves. A user can set a passcode to protect important information, but many dislike entering a passcode every time the device is operated. Some owners fail to set a passcode entirely, making their device very insecure.
This patent application, filed with the USPTO by Google, describes a security system for portable devices that takes into account the device’s current location. When the device is booted up, the device determines its own current location. If the location is familiar to the device, such as the owner’s home, it will request a simple authorization. If the setting is unknown to the device, the user must complete a more complex authorization.
Claim 1 of this patent application would give Google the right to protect:
“A method, comprising: receiving, via an input of a portable electronic device, a request to access the electronic device; automatically determining, by a processor without a requirement for user entry of location information, a first familiar area for the electronic device by: receiving, via an input of the portable electronic device, a plurality of successful user authentication entries, wherein each entry corresponds to a location, saving, in a computer-readable memory, data representative of each of the entries and each entry’s corresponding location, determining that the memory contains at least a threshold number of entries for a single location, and classifying the single location as the first familiar area; and implementing, on the electronic device, a first security rule requiring a first authentication process when the electronic device is physically located in the first familiar area, and a second security rule requiring a second authentication process when the electronic device is located outside of any familiar area.”
Image Capture Based on Gaze Detection
U.S. Patent Application No. 20130222638
Wearable computer systems have been in development by technology manufacturers in recent years. For example, the Google Glass system set for full release by Google in 2014 incorporates computer elements, sensors and other components into a system that can be worn like a pair of glasses. One goal of this system is to allow media capture of images, video and sound that replicate the Glass owner’s individual point of view.
This patent application has been filed to protect a system of capturing pictures through a wearable device by analyzing a user’s gaze. A user looks through the viewfinder, which can detect the field of vision of a user based on the direction of that user’s gaze. This gaze information can be processed to determine the exact field of view for a user, and this data can be used to adjust the image being captured by the device.
As Claim 1 explains, Google is seeking the rights to:
“An apparatus comprising: a viewfinder providing a field of view; an image capturing device; a gaze acquisition system configured to acquire a gaze direction; and a controller configured to: (1) determine whether the acquired gaze direction indicates a gaze through the viewfinder; (2) generate an image capture instruction based, at least in part, on a determination that the acquired gaze direction indicates a gaze through the viewfinder, and (3) cause the image capturing device to capture an image in accordance with the image capture instruction, wherein the captured image includes at least a portion of the field of view provided by the view finder.”