Some interesting new mobile patent applications from last week. The most intriguing of the bunch are Roamware Inc.’s video ringbacks – I can see those being a big hit from both a personal and business stance – and Microsoft’s Location Annotations, which remind me a little of Yahoo’s Zonetag, but with the ability for people to use annotations about locations through their phones in a meaningful way.
I’ve been writing mostly about phones and handheld devices when it comes to mobile patents, but this is kind of interesting. Imagine driving around with your own wifi network in your car. One cellular router featured on the Waav web site can work at speeds up to 100 miles an hour (not sure why you would be computing at that speed), and will allow broadband access up to 300 feet away when your vehicle is stopped.
Mobile communication device with interrogator to interact with tags
Avaya Technology (20070032224)
Allows someone to use a smart phone or PDA to use nearby equipment, such as printers or land-phones which have tags embedded within them and which cooperate with a remote server, to communicate with that equipment and perform tasks such as printing out emails initially received on the mobile device, or forward calls to a land line. It would also be possible to receive information from that remote server about devices which have tags, and the activities they might be engaged in.
Describes the use of a mobile device to provide feedback during a medical clinical trial, with the possibilities of rewards as an incentive to get people to participate. The use of a mobile phone allows for timely feedback regardless of where the participant may be located. The process being applied for as a patent can be used in other contexts, but the example used is helpful in understanding why the use of a mobile device is important to this process.
Automated Concierge System and Method
Targus Information Corporation (20070032247)
By “concierge” the authors of this patent application don’t mean an employee of a hotel that helps guests, but rather more generally a provider of services in a time of need. This method can help people looking for a service provider to find one, based upon their location as determined by something like GPS.
Automatic detection and research of novel words or phrases by a mobile terminal
Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications (20070033036)
Enables people to quickly look up words in a conversation that they are having on their phones, through a combination of speech to text and dictionary or web lookup.
Video ringback tone
Roamware Inc. (20070030338)
A way of viewing videos while waiting for a phone connection to take place, with the videos being selected by the called party. I could see businesses using this a number of ways.
A social network/dating service type application that understands locations, and matches people up based upon data that they enter in the system, and where they are presently located.
Group-centric location tagging for mobile devices
This one interested me the most – a way for people to annotate locations, and to share those annotations with a network of friends, and others. Here’s a snippet from the document:
 The subject matter provides systems and methods for tagging physical locations and sharing the tag information with a selected group. Location annotating or “tagging” allows for associating digital text and/or media with a physical location (i.e., tagging is tying a user annotation to a specific location). Event type tagging is a specialized tag where an annotation is associated with a location and time combination (e.g., a yearly music festival). Digital content such as, for example, a comment is entered as a digital tag into, for example, a mobile device that can be aware of its physical location coordinates and, for example, is then sent to a server for later distribution to other participants of the group. Tags entered by other people in groups to which the user belongs can be leveraged to simplify tag entry and enhance the value of location tagging by providing the user with tags from people they know or “trust” within the context of a group. The annotation information can be easily disseminated to participants of the group via, for example, a web service. For example, this also allows participants to let others know their location and/or to easily locate their friends. Location tagging provides information that is relevant/scoped to the user, not only because of where the user is and who the user’s groups are, but when the user is there.
I liked this quote later in the patent application that put out some examples of why something like this might be useful:
Thus, being able to easily obtain information about places and events from trusted sources is extremely valuable. It can help a weary traveler find good lodging late at night after a long drive or help a distraught teenager, standing alone outside of a dance club, find out that their friends have decided to go to another dance club at the last minute because the first club had poor music that night.