Google Acquires Virtual Post-it Notes Patents

Imagine being able to subscribe to a service where public service agencies, advertisers, and friends may be able to leave you mobile messages when you drive through or arrive at a specific location.

Google acquired a series of related patents earlier this month that cover this kind of location-based service, originally filed by a Fairfax Virginia based company, Xybernaut Corporation.

A screenshot from the patent showing a computer interface used as a car navigational device

A screenshot from one of the patents shows this system implemented as a navigational device, but the patent is written in a way that enables a system like this to be used by many different types of handheld devices as well. It’s possible that Google Maps Navigation could use this system, though it could also be built into other parts of a mobile phone system as well. And it has a potential social element to it as well.

The earliest of the patents was filed in December of 2000:

System and method of accessing and recording messages at coordinate way points
(US Patent 6,377,793)
Granted April 23, 2002
Assigned to Xybernaut Corporation
Invented by Michael D. Jenkins
Filed: December 6, 2000


The present invention is essentially a method and system for leaving and retrieving messages at specific coordinate way points within a commercial mobile radio service (CMRS) provider network. Users carry or transport interface devices for communicating over the network and are able to record and view messages at specific coordinate locations while traveling in the network.

The location of the device is calculated by the device or by the network while the device is powered on and in within the physical boundaries of the network, or through a combination of both.

Messages can be made available to network subscribers when their interface devices come within an area centered about a physical coordinate location. Personalized messages can also be left by subscribers at any coordinate point within the boundaries of the network.

The invention can also be used to facilitate access of information about an asset when a technician comes within a physical proximity threshold relative to said asset.

This system would allow you to enter preferences as to the type of messages that you would like to receive, such as:

  • Personal messages from friends
  • Historical messages, such as from plaques along the roadside that convey historical information about an area
  • Informational messages, such as information about traffic, accidents, alternative routes
  • Near real-time arrival information for buses and trains, such as “bus 12B will arrive in approximately 10 minutes.”
  • Commercial messages, such as advertisements for local businesses

In addition to receiving messages, this system would enable someone to leave messages for others, or even for themselves. The patents refer to this system as one that enables subscribers

…to leave “virtual post-it notes” or “virtual graffiti” nearly anywhere. The message could even be a reminder to left by a person for himself, or a video or audio clip.

The patent also mentions that this system could be used to create “affinity groups” made up of other subscribers, which could be used to page people when other members of their groups are nearby, and message those members without that message being tied to a specific geographic location.

Another aspect covered by these patent filings is the ability to leave messages for maintenance or inspection people to go to a particular site and receive information about that site, such as repair records, date of installation, schematics, inspection data, and repair instructions.

The company that originally invented this process also worked on technology involving wearable computers, and unsuprisingly, the patent also suggests the possibility of using this technology for orienteering type games.

Advertisers could include coupons with their messages to attract visitors to their businesses.

Related Patent Filings


Author: Bill Slawski

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