Google to Upgrade its Memory? Assigned Startup MetaRAM’s Memory Chip Patents

In August, the Official Google Blog announced an upgrade to Google’s infrastructure code-named Caffeine, aimed at making the search engine faster, and Google opened the system up for testing to people who might want to provide feedback. An interview with one of the developers behind the upgrade described it as an upgrade to the Google File System.

While looking around the US Patent Office assignment database this morning, I noticed a number of new patents and patent applications assigned to Google on November 18, 2009, originally granted to startup MetaRAM.

If a search engine wanted to seriously upgrade its capabilities, it might do more than upgrade its software. It might also upgrade the hardware that it uses. The technology detailed in the MetaRAM patents could potentially transform Google’s computing capacity dramatically.

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How Google Might Insert Artificial Named Anchors into Web Pages

Usually, when you click on a link in a set of search results at Google, the search engine will deliver you to the top of a web page. But what if it didn’t? What if it brought you instead to the place on a page where your query terms appeared, or just above those words?

For example, say you searched for [pizza 94043], and the page appearing at the top of Google’s search results included a list of pizza places, including one pizzeria at that zip code halfway down the page. How would you feel if when you arrived at the page, your browser brought you to the part of the page where that pizza place showed up?

A patent application published today from Google explores how the search engine might insert artificial anchors into pages, to deliver searchers to destinations within web pages, pdf files, word files, spreadsheets, and other documents, rather than just to the tops of those documents.

Below the Fold Design Implications?

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Patent Shows Google Book Scanning a Musical Process

Google was granted a patent today on one aspect of a book scanning process that raises the question what kind of music helps someone scan books best.

The patent is Pacing and error monitoring of manual page turning operator (US Patent 7,619,784), which lists Joseph K. O’Sullivan, R. Alexander Proudfoot, and Christopher R. Uhlik as inventors. Note the cameras and speakers above a book in a scanning cradle, in the image below from the patent:

Images from US Patent 7,619,784, granted to Google, showing a book in a cradle with cameras and speakers in a top image, and a person sitting at a manual scanning desk in a bottom image.

The patent was originally filed on June 30, 2003, and describes how a musical tempo might be used to help someone manually turning pages while scanning books. The abstract from the patent reads as follows:

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Search Taxonomies to Answer Questions on Webpages

If you were to search for [Ronald Reagan Movies] at Google or Yahoo or Bing, would you expect to see a list of movies that the former President and actor appeared in?

It’s more likely that you would see a set of web pages that contain the words “Ronald” and “Reagan” and “Movies,” which might contain the names of films starring the former politician and thespian.

A patent application from Yahoo published last week explores ways to return information directly to searchers, based upon building search taxonomies of information about specific people, places, and things, gathered from information found on web pages, rather than having searchers look through multiple web pages to find answers to queries such as “Ronald Reagan movies.”

Both Yahoo and Google do some question answering when faced with certain queries that involve “named entities,” or the names of well-known people, places, and things. For example, search at either search engine for [Babe Ruth birthplace], and above the web pages on the search results pages appears an answer to that question:

Google search result showing Babe Ruth's Place of Birth.

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How Search Engines May Rank User Generated Content

The term “User Generated Content,” often abbreviated as “UGC,” covers a fairly broad range of the words and pictures, images and videos and sounds that you see and hear on the Web.

Ben Franklin, early American self publisher.

One thing that tends to distinguish “User Generated Content” from other content on the web is that visitors to a site, possibly including a site’s owners, are the ones who help build the site, and add to it.

User Generated Content can include message boards and forums, wikis and product reviews, public mailing lists and Q & A sites, blogs and blog comments, podcasts, and other kinds of content.

Would you consider twitter to be UGC? I would. When you visit and read reviews of books and music and other content, you’re reading User Generated Content. When you Visit Wikipedia, the human created encyclopedia you see relies upon User Generated Content.

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