Amazon.com: New Ways to Put Consumers in Touch with Media

By Steve Brachmann
November 27, 2013

The online retailing giant Amazon.com is an American corporation that is headquartered in Seattle, WA. With Black Friday later this week, we at IPWatchdog wanted to take a closer look at one of the companies that has drastically changed the current reality of retail. As parents all over the country get ready to find gifts for their children, Amazon might earn a better market share with recent reports that it’s toys are cheaper than those found on Wal-Mart’s online store. Recent reports from The Seattle Times indicate that the corporation is looking to increase its leased spacing within Seattle by 20 percent, or about 275,000 square feet.

Holding the rights to more than 1,200 patents, Amazon is definitely a company to profile in our Companies We Follow series. It’s never too long before a new patent application or issued patent is published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office which is assigned to the company. As you can see, Amazon is busy finding new and more effective ways of putting consumers in touch with useful multimedia.

Today’s featured patent application would protect a software widget for handheld electronic devices that allows playback of Amazon digital files. This widget would save system resources that typically get drained when users open multiple applications for video and audio playback or eBook reading. A couple of other patent applications discuss improved delivery systems for physical copies of media, including a system of creating custom shipping containers. Another patent application allows handheld electronic devices to conserve energy typically used by touchscreen operations.

The recent issued patents received by Amazon.com detail a number of interesting searching and browsing improvements for online customers. One patent protects a more effective system of searching for items by color. Another issued patent can provide special offers to consumers as they view items to spur the decision to purchase that item. We also look at a patent that protects a system of storing computer servers that was devised by Amazon, but may be useful for computer server facilities in use by many companies.

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Media Widget to Interface with Multiple Underlying Applications
U.S. Patent Application No. 20130263053

As an online retailer of digital products, Amazon.com sells many forms of media that users can enjoy through a computer or electronic device. Music files, eBooks and streaming video can all be purchased through Amazon’s online website. Each of these media formats can be accessed and consumed by users through a variety of software programs included on the computing device.

The need to open up different applications in order to view or listen to a media purchase can be cumbersome. The software may take a few minutes to start running and a user may have to open multiple programs to enjoy all of their media. This is especially problematic for handheld electronic devices. These machines typically have less hard drive space and processing power than laptops or desktop computers. As a result, running multiple media applications at once provides a much greater drain on system resources in these portable devices.

This patent application, filed by Amazon.com with the USPTO, would protect the use of a multimedia widget that is capable of playing various forms of electronic media. This widget is able to access software applications for media playback while reducing the drain on the system’s resources. Users can view associated media content through this widget, such as album or cover art.

The widget also utilizes media metadata to help users find new content that they may find interesting. For example, the player may store audio metadata to suggest other popular titles based on recently played files or those that have been marked as a favorite by a user. The widget can also provide information about associated media applications providing playback service, so a user can see if there is an update for their audio player or eBook reader.

Claim 1 of this Amazon.com patent application would protect:

“A user device comprising: a processor; and a memory coupled to the processor, the memory storing: at least one of a plurality of media applications; and a media widget process, executable by the processor, the media widget process comprising: a widget content synchronization module comprising a plurality of application adapters, each of the plurality of application adapters configured to interface with a different one of the plurality of media applications configured to provide media content; a widget content storage module configured to store, in the memory, widget content received by the plurality of application adapters from the plurality of media applications, the widget content corresponding to the media content; and a widget content delivery module configured to provide a user interface to display the widget content stored in the memory.”

 

Other Patent Applications

From U.S. Patent Application No. 20130265276, titled “Multiple Touch Sensing Modes.”

Amazon.com may not be as heavy into technological research and development as other corporations we profile, but its efforts to create more efficient ordering and delivery systems for its content does make it a fairly regular name at the USPTO. Today, we’ve pulled up a couple of patent applications that are meant to make delivery of physical media items even more convenient, both for Amazon and consumers. U.S. Patent Application No. 20130261792, entitled Pickup Location Monitoring, describes a system that would allow users to select a retail pickup location for their online orders. This would also improve shipping for Amazon as these items could be shipped without the same expensive packaging required of postage through the mail. U.S. Patent Application No. 20130247519, which is titled Custom Containers in a Materials Handling Facility, would protect a system of forming custom containers for shipping to accommodate oddly shaped items or provide better packing for large orders.

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Other patent applications we’re focusing on today discuss improvements to computer systems for customer recommendations and, interestingly, changes in touchscreen modes for electronic devices. Users are likely to find better suggestions for interesting content because of U.S. Patent Application No. 20130254065, titled Play History Based Detection of Similar Digital Works or Work Creators. Instead of making recommendations based on a user profile, which many Amazon customers don’t fill out completely, this system makes recommendations based on media played by or downloaded to a device. Touchscreen efficiency is at the center of U.S. Patent Application No. 20130265276, filed under the name Multiple Touch Sensing Modes. Electronic touchscreen devices utilizing this system would be able to enter an “idle” mode where some touchscreen operation is available. However, this mode would offer fewer touch functions compared to devices in an “active” mode.

 

Issued Patents of Note

Retailers aren’t typically renowned for their patent holdings, but Amazon.com inhabits a very unique space in the industry. As a major online retailer, it’s heavily involved in protecting its innovations for improving user shopping experiences. Recently, the USPTO has issued many patents assigned to Amazon for better search and browsing systems for customers, as well as some other intriguing upgrades to online retail efficiency.

Amazon.com is very involved in developing new systems that help consumers find media products they want to buy. For example, U.S. Patent No. 8587604, entitled Interactive Color Palettes for Color-Aware Search, enables users to search for an item, like a book or CD, and filtering the results by color. This system benefits from a narrow color wheel that reduces the thousands of different shades and hues into a few general colors. Consumers who enjoy signing up for web feeds will have even more options thanks to U.S. Patent No. 8589418, titled System for Facilitating Discovery and Management of Feeds. This patent protects a system of suggesting web feeds to a consumer based on a profile of interests.

We’re also profiling a couple of patents that deal with analyzing customer activity on the Amazon.com website to improve the probability that they’ll purchase an item. U.S. Patent No. 8577753, titled Community-Based Shopping Profiles, describes a system of creating user shopping profiles based on user purchases or how well they rank items that they would like to purchase. Both consumers and Amazon might benefit from U.S. Patent No. 8566170, which is titled Reducing Purchase Hesitance. This system can detect when a user would like to buy an item but may be deciding whether or not to purchase. In these cases, the system can make a concession and provide an offer to a customer through the online retail portal that may close the sale.

From U.S. Patent No. 8582299, titled “System with Movable Computing Devices.”

Finally, we take a quick look at a patent that aims to make Amazon’s server facilities much more adaptable for replacing and upgrading computer equipment. This system is protected by U.S. Patent No. 8582299, entitled System with Movable Computing Devices. This patent protects a hanging mount system for computer servers that can more easily adjust to new equipment of different sizes than older rack server mounting systems.

 

The Author

Steve Brachmann

Steve Brachmann is a freelance journalist located in Buffalo, New York. He has worked professionally as a freelancer for more than a decade. He writes about technology and innovation. His work has been published by The Buffalo News, The Hamburg Sun, USAToday.com, Chron.com, Motley Fool and OpenLettersMonthly.com. Steve also provides website copy and documents for various business clients and is available for research projects and freelance work.

Warning & Disclaimer: The pages, articles and comments on IPWatchdog.com do not constitute legal advice, nor do they create any attorney-client relationship. The articles published express the personal opinion and views of the author and should not be attributed to the author’s employer, clients or the sponsors of IPWatchdog.com. Read more.

Discuss this

There are currently 2 Comments comments.

  1. Jonathan Stevens November 27, 2013 3:08 pm

    Hmmm…interesting to see Amazon branching out and getting patents on their server upgrades.

  2. Benny November 28, 2013 7:36 am

    I suggest you read the ‘170 patent (Reducing purchase hesitancy) carefully. Once you understand how the system works, you can adjust your own online purchasing behaviour so as to force the system to offer you a discount. Someone will wise up on this, publicize the method, and render the invention useless. Perhaps this idea should have been kept trade secret.