Headquartered in San Diego, CA, Qualcomm Incorporated is a major player in the manufacture of digital wireless devices and associated telecommunications products and services. This technology developer produces an array of semiconductor products, like their Snapdragon processors, that power many of the smartphones and tablet computers available in today’s electronic device market. Recent comments made by company officials at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas indicate that the corporation is moving beyond a smartphone focus to work on improvements to tablet and even vehicle connectivity.
It’s been a little while since our last check-in with Qualcomm for our Companies We Follow series, and the new year finds the corporation developing a number of innovations that involve a variety of interesting computing systems. Each of these inventions is described fully in either a patent application or issued patent published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and assigned to Qualcomm. Fans of Qualcomm’s mobile device products will also notice some conspicuous improvements to the company’s current smartphone components.
What is clear every time we look at Qualcomm is that the company’s innovation profile defies easy characterization because Qualcomm simply innovates, and innovates and innovates. For example, today we begin looking at a patent application that could very well bring the value of having a massive scope of retail products available for purchase online directly into brick-and-mortar stores. This computing system would allow a store to detect that a shopper is comparing prices online through a device and then provide a discount offer that could entice the customer into buying the item in the store. Then we briefly discuss other interesting patent applications that relate to a mobile video terminal that could assist in patient physical therapy, as well as a system of reducing a device’s processor power to control internal temperature.
Issued patents are always a major focal point here at IPWatchdog because, after all, that is the name of the exclusive rights play. Applications show research and development focus, issued patents define exclusive rights that were worth pursuing through what sometimes can be lengthy patent prosecutions. In this article we’re exploring a group of patentsthat protect some novel telecommunications systems and protocols. One of these patents protects a home networking system that can better transmit signals from disparate home systems that are connected through the same communication medium. Entertainment fans may be intrigued by a patent that protects methods of including social interactivity with mobile television applications. We’ve also noticed a couple of patents related to location-based services, whether for finding better apps during searches or to determining the proper satellite to use for the clearest communication signal.
In short, if it deals with a computer or high-tech gadget Qualcomm is on the job innovating.
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Method for In-Store Competition with Internet Sales Pricing
U.S. Patent Application No. 20130346201
The world of Internet sales has exploded in recent years. Online stores continue to increase their share of the retail industry each and every year. In fact, for the last three months of December 2013, online sales increased by 10 percent over the same period the previous year. Sales recorded through smartphones and tablets reached 17 percent of all online sales during this period, marking an increase in retail sales from devices of 46 percent.
In many ways, the ease of smartphone shopping has created a pretty unfair market for most brick-and-mortar stores. It’s very easy today for a device owner to go into a retail store, look at an item and then compare the prices of that item with those that are available online through Amazon.com or other Internet stores. If the shopper can find the same item available for cheaper online, which is often the case, the brick-and-mortar store usually loses the sale.
Qualcomm has filed this patent application with the USPTO to protect a system that would allow stores to better compete with low prices which are available online. This system utilizes various network analysis tools, including mobile application monitoring and Wi-Fi activity analysis, to determine that a shopper within a store is searching for a particular item online. The network server used by the merchant then has the opportunity to provide a counteroffer to the shopper.
The counteroffer that the merchant server provides to shoppers may be based upon a number of factors, including the merchant’s current level of stock of that item, the price offered by the online competitor or a shopper’s previous purchasing habits. The offer can be provided to the shopper through a variety of mediums using this system, including electronic displays within a store or through an in-store audible announcement.
As Claim 1 of this application states, Qualcomm is hoping to protect:
“A method for enabling a merchant to compete with online retailers for a sale of a product using counteroffers within a merchant store, comprising: detecting an Internet product search conducted on a consumer’s mobile computing device for a product; determining whether the consumer’s mobile computing device is located within a merchant’s store; determining in a server whether to present a counteroffer to the consumer based at least in part on the detected Internet product search in response to determining that the consumer’s mobile computing device is located within a merchant’s store; generating instructions for presenting a counteroffer to the consumer within the merchant’s store in response to determining that a counteroffer should be presented to the consumer; and transmitting the generated instructions to at least one store display asset for presenting the counteroffer to the consumer.”
Other Patent Applications
Qualcomm is seeking to protect a number of other innovations that caught our eye this week here at IPWatchdog. The semiconductor manufacturer has filed a number of patent applications that discuss improvements to various video systems used with computing devices. For example, U.S. Patent Application No. 20140003529, entitled Coding of Significance Flags, would protect a system of adding significance tags to video code that can help inform computer processors of the proper coding context for video data. This system could be used to attach a variety of video coding standards to a data file, including High-Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC), a new standard still under development. U.S. Patent Application No. 20140007009, which is titled Mobile Video-Based Therapy, discusses a type of mobile computer terminal which could be used in medical or hospital settings. The terminal would have a camera which can analyze and determine the medical state of a user and then provide images of proper physical therapy techniques.
A few intriguing electronic hardware improvements are at the core of a couple of other Qualcomm patent applications that we’ve decided to explore. Art galleries and other facilities with unique lighting needs may benefit from the innovation laid out in U.S. Patent Application No. 20140003040, filed under the title Low-Profile Lighting System. This application discusses improvements to wall wash lighting systems which currently use parabolic reflectors so as to make these lighting systems much easier to use in small spaces. U.S. Patent Application No. 20140006818, which is titled System and Method for Adaptive Thermal Management in a Portable Computing Device, aims to improve temperature control within electronic devices that are too small to carry a fan component by allowing the device to reduce its processor performing level.
Issued Patents of Note
Wireless telecommunications is a huge area of interest for Qualcomm’s research and development activities, a fact that we’re seeing play out in many of the patents recently issued to the corporation by the USPTO. These patent holdings increase the intellectual property strength of any company, which is why we always make sure to pick a few recent patents that our readers are sure to find engaging.
This week, we’re seeing a number of patents that provide a variety of location-based services to users of mobile digital devices. For example, U.S. Patent No. 8626774, entitled Location Based Apps Ranking for Mobile Wireless Computing and Communicating Devices, protects a system of searching for apps based on the context information gathered by a device, such as the user’s current activity or location. Location-based services will be a little easier to deploy thanks to U.S. Patent No. 8626926, titled Method and Apparatus for Performing Session Info Query for User Plane Location. In this system, a location server queries a client terminal to pinpoint the physical location of that terminal. For instance, a user could place a call for emergency services through a wireless network and that person’s address could be easily obtained. U.S. Patent No. 8620306, which is titled Location Specific Search for Regional Satellite Vehicles, protects a system by which mobile devices connecting to satellite communications can better identify which satellite to use in order to prevent signal degradation.
Other issued patents that have piqued our interest this week involve systems of improved communication in home networks and for mobile television. U.S. Patent No. 8613026, issued under the title Methods and Systems for Viewer Interactivity and Social Networking in a Mobile TV Broadcast Network, provides a system for mobile television users to interact with their entertainment options in a more personal way. Mobile TV users could chat with others watching the same programs, share their favorite programs with others and set up ad-hoc TV channels containing their favorite programs. Finally, U.S. Patent No. 8614961, titled Efficient Communication Over a Shared Medium, protects methods of providing a wireless home network that can provide diverse services, such as smart electrical grid management and broadband Internet services. Data transmitted across the network is coded in such a way that it reaches its intended network station more efficiently.