Forget Search, Yahoo May Start Helping You Find Parking Spaces

At some point in the not distant future, Yahoo search will be replaced with Microsoft’s search service Bing.

Exactly how that might impact the other services that Yahoo offers isn’t really clear at this point, but it’s likely that Yahoo will still offer many of the portal services that it provides to its visitors now.

Will Yahoo Local and Yahoo Maps be affected? Again, that isn’t really clear. I’ve been keeping an eye out for patent filings from search engines for a while now, and I do still see many published by Yahoo that provide some interesting possibilities, even outside of search.

Take one Yahoo patent filing published today, for instance:

Real Time Detection of Parking Space Availability
Invented by Amit Umesh Shanbhag, Glen Ames, and Philip Aaronson
Assigned to Yahoo
US Patent Application 20100007525
Published January 14, 2010
Filed July 9, 2008

The process behind this patent application would help people find parking spaces within parking garages, possibly by monitoring those spaces with sensors. It could share information such as the cost of parking at different garages, and could possibly be part of a program such as Yahoo Maps. We’re told about the need for something like this within the patent filing:

Frequently, an individual that plans on driving from a start location to a finish location will need a parking space at the finish location. The locating of parking in towns/cities having scarce parking resources and/or strict parking regulations is a non-trivial task. Unfamiliarity by the individual with the destination locality can further compound this problem. Thus, the locating of parking in many localities can be time consuming.

Furthermore, once a parking resource is determined, typically there is no way of determining whether any parking spaces will be available there, or where the parking spaces are located, when the individual arrives at the parking resource in the user’s vehicle. This can lead to quite a bit of time wasted by the individual driving around trying to find an open parking space.

Thus, planning a point-to-point trip that accounts for a need to find parking can be quite a complex problem. What is desired are ways of efficiently and easily planning a point-to-point trip that accounts for the need for available parking at the end destination.

An image from the patent application:

A map from the Yahoo patent showing an area in NYC with a parking garage labeled 'Parking Availibilty Information.

The patent is as meticulously detailed as any I’ve seen from Yahoo that describes how they might help searchers find web pages, and it solves a very real problem – but there’s something missing.

It’s going to be sad to see Yahoo leave search – I like the idea of there being some competition amongst the major search providers. It’s possible that the search engineers who go from Yahoo to work at Bing may help Bing provide a stronger search offering, and at this point we can only wait and see.

When we think of Yahoo a few years from now, will we think about them as a place on the Web to find information, or as the place that helps us find parking?

15 thoughts on “Forget Search, Yahoo May Start Helping You Find Parking Spaces”

  1. For me, as more as they try, they are dead! The only chance to survive is this fusion with Bing. Besides they only have presence in the us and Japan. IN Europe Yahoo simply doesn’t exist.

  2. I love the idea of a parking space application. Will they also let you “book” it for the next 5 minutes until you arrive with the car? 😉

  3. Jajaja…we all know that yahoo’s not a big player over here in Europe when it comes to search. Anyway. It’s quite funny with what they come up every once in a while. When I was writing my thesis about a year ago I think it was yahoo! who had a patent regarding apparel and interactive dressing rooms or sth. like that. I hope I don’t mix things up right now…anyway, doesn’t really matter. Just wanted to say that it’s cool in away, that they come up with new ideas. Ideas one might have not even thought about so far. But, as you mentioned before, it might be a little sad to forget about yahoooooo search. do you yahoo? might be a reasonable question in a few years.

  4. Hi Involve Mobile Marketing,

    I think there’s still some life left to Yahoo. They are still one of the most visited web sites in the world.

  5. Hi Sascha,

    Thanks – I get a kick out of some of their patents, too. Yahoo does come out with some unique and interesting ideas. The patent filing I think you might be referring to involved a fashion search, that let you upload your body measurements so that you could try clothes on virtually, to see how they might look on you.

    Adding parking to Yahoo Maps, so that you might find out where to park when you arrive someone would be nice – it just seems like it would require a lot of work in getting parking garages to install the kind of sensors involved.

  6. involve mobile,your wrong,yahoo is not dead in europe,at least not in the eastern europe. Yahoo messenger is the main chat program used.

  7. Looking at this though the eyes of someone who does search marketing or is a web user you could be forgiven for thinking that yahoo is on the way out but then you take a look at the stock price – as stated above Yahoo is not just the search engine or the page that sits on, if yahoo did a geocities there would be a lot of devastated people out there, me for one.

    I have used my yahoo email address (actually a rocketmail) for over 12 years!

  8. Hi Jimmy,

    I agree with you – if someone is only thinking of Yahoo as a search engine, it might feel like they are losing something by their merger in the search area with Microsoft/Bing, but Yahoo does offer a lot more than just search, and their pages are some of the most visited pages on the Web.

    I don’t use my Yahoo email address very much, but I have had one for more than 10 years as well. 🙂

  9. I can’t wait to hear more about this search engine being able to help you find parking spaces. I know anything is possible now, but wouldn’t imagine something like this 10 years ago.

    About Yahoo using Bing’s search engine, I just wish they would be closer to Google’s algorithm :/


  10. Hi Kai,

    I don’t think I would have fore seen something like this from search engines back in 1999 either, but I’ve seen enough now that I might not be as surprised by what we might see 10 years from now.

    As for Yahoo/Bing, and what their combined search engine might end up like, I hope they do explore some territory that Google hasn’t. I think innovations in search algorithms are good for us, and it’s possible that they may end up with something better than what Google offers if they follow some different paths.

  11. Living in Europe I can tell you that very few people use yahoo search but people still use Aim and Yahoo mail. I hope Yahoo has a plan to get back into the search game market. If not Yahoo might continue spending time and money improving its portal (as opposed to being a competitive search engine). Yahoo has better reputation in the US and it’s no surprise as they have focused their efforts on the US and JP markets in the past.. putting the european market aside for a while.
    As for yahoo/bing, I agree with you Bill, they’ll be competitive only if they focus on innovation. Time will tell us if they have a plan (other than searching for parking spaces on the internet! 😉 )

  12. Hi thomigo,

    Maybe some day we will see Yahoo return to search, but their best option may be to attempt to become the best portal that they can be.

    I’d love to see the search engineers from Yahoo join with those from Bing, and start bringing us something special. I think it’s possible.

  13. I think it’s a real shame that Yahoo Site Explorer is no longer available after the Yahoo-Bing merger. Does anyone know if there is a similar, free service available that allows to analyze backlink profiles?

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