Google Patents Seeing with your Hand

It’s not related to search, or to SEO, but it’s one of the more unusual and interesting patents that I’ve seen come out of Google in a while, and Google Founder Sergey Brin is listed as one of the co-inventors. Google was granted a patent today on a device that could allow someone to view their surroundings through their hands or other parts of their body, with using a detector that might be channeled to a wearable display.

This new patent might in part explain why Google acquired the patent I described in “Google Acquires Swimming Goggle Patent.” While the swimming goggle patent is interesting in its own right, and I’d love to see a version that could be used when jogging or bicycling, it’s also the kind of wearable viewing display that could be used with this alternative viewing device.

As a device on a glove, a control for the viewing device might be built into the glove so that a predetermined motion might trigger the use of the viewing detector. The patent allows for the viewing device to be located elsewhere on a body as well, so for example, the idea of having eyes in the back of your head might not be unreasonable.

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Possible New Google Search Result Annotations

Google’s web search results have gone through a number of transformations over the years, from the additions of images and maps and videos and other kinds of results from Google’s vertical search respositories, to an autocomplete dropdown of query refinement suggestions and automatically updating results based upon those suggestions in Google Instant. Google has shown a link to a cached copy of many pages for years, in case a page you’re trying to visit isn’t presently available. Google introduced thumbnail previews that you can start seeing if you click upon a magnifying glass next to one of the results.

If you’re logged into your Google Account, you can see other information in Google search results as well, such as a +1 button that you can click upon to vote for a page, and a display of other people whom you are connected to somehow who have clicked upon that plus button. It’s quite likely that Google will continue to experiment with other information that you might be able to see in search results as well.

A screenshot showing search results with annotations in them showing the date of a last visit to a page, and the addition of a new page to previously seen search results.

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Early Google Panda Patents

Might Google lower the rankings of a page in search results if it detects unusual patterns related to clicks on advertisements on that page, or might Google use a ranking algorithm that can be tested against such unusual click patterns to lower the rankings of pages in search results? A Google patent granted today is the first that I can recall seeing that suggests that information about clicks on ads might cause pages to be lowered in web search rankings or removed from search results altogether:

Once the document engine 146 determines the likelihood that an article is a manipulated article, the method 400 ends. The likelihood that an article is a manipulated article can be used in a variety of ways. For example, the information that an article is likely a manipulated article can be used to lower a ranking associated with that article such that the article will be displayed lower in a listing of search results or not displayed at all*.

Alternatively, the information that an article is likely a manipulated article can be used to test ranking algorithms.*

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How Google Might Track Changes on Webpages

Many sites on the Web contain elements that change on a regular basis, from advertisements that differ everytime a page shows, to widgets that contain constantly updated information, to blog and news homepages that show new posts and articles hourly or daily or weekly. Ecommerce sites add and remove products regularly, and display updated specials and features on their homepages. Sites including or focusing upon user generated content may consistently change.

Search engines use web crawling programs to discover new pages and sites and to index content that changes on pages they already know about by following links from one page to another. A Google patent granted last week explores the potential problem of a crawler coming across a page that has changed only slightly, such as a change in content or having an advertisement displayed, and deciding whether it should reindex that whole page because of the slight change.

The patent also describes the process behind how Google might check for changes on a page, comparing a newer version of a page to an older version, and associating an age with the older content and with the newer content. I’m reminded a little of a Yahoo patent that I wrote about a few years ago, in a post titled A Yahoo Approach to Avoid Crawling Advertisement and Session Tracking Links.

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Did Google Acquire the Tech (or Patents) for Google Related from Northbrook Digital LLC?

The Google Related Logo.

My Google toolbar updated on me earlier today, and a notification window popped up, telling me about one of Google’s newest features, Google Related, which has some interesting implications. Ran Ben-Yair, a Product Manager from the Google Related team located at the Israel R&D Center introduced the feature in a blog post titled Find more while you browse with Google Related

The notification announcing the addition of Google Related that popped up when I opened my browser.

I haven’t had much time to explore the use of Google Related on more than a couple of sites, but I’ll be looking for more signs of it on the Web. I noticed a couple of days ago a number of patents that Google had recorded as being acquired from Northbrook Digital LLC which looked like they shared some very similar features to Google Related. Interesting to see them possibly incorporated into Google so quickly.

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Google’s Asymmetric Social Network and Plus Authoring Patent

When you write a post at Google Plus, the social network allows you to link a web page and display an image from that page to the post, as well as defining who your post should be seen by. A patent filing published last week describes some of the processes behind adding those features, and provides us with screen shots of interfaces from an early version of Google Plus. It also shows off some of the thinking that might have led to the use of circles in defining the idea of an “asymmetric social network.”

The posting interface is shown in a number of screenshots in the patent filing:

Some interface images from the patent that are similar in many ways to Google Plus, and the ability to add links and images to posts and to decide between sending posts to subscribers or making them public.

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Google’s Planet Scale Distributed Storage Patents

This past February, Google filed for a number of patents that describe aspects of how it might share information from one data center to another, and some of the challenges that entails. Google’s Yonatan Zunber, who revealed on his blog that over the past few months that he was the chief architect for Google’s social systems, including Google Plus, is one of the inventors listed on a number of the patents.

Just how are the nuts and bolts of Google’s data architecture pieced together, from its Web index to storing emails and photos, from user profiles and posts and responses in Google Plus to maps and photos and streetview images in Google Maps and Google Earth? Google has a number of data centers around the globe. How does the search giant efficiently move data from one data center to another? How does it back up the files and indexes that it uses? Where does all the user data go that Google collects when people search and browse the Web?

Google has shared some information about how they store and access data over the years in papers and articles like:

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How Google May Boost Search Rankings for Your Relevant Pages Using Keywords in the Same Category as Your Website

Imagine that Google assigns categories to every webpage or website that it visits. You can see categories like those for sites in Google’s local search. Now imagine that Google has looked through how frequently certain keywords appear on the pages of those websites, how often those pages rank for certain query terms in search results, and user data associated with those pages.

One of my local supermarkets has a sushi bar, and they may even note that on their website, but the keyword phrase [sushi bar] is more often found upon and associated with documents associated with a category of “Japanese Restaurants” based upon how often that phrase tends to show up on Japanese Restaurant sites, and how frequently Japanese restaurant sites tend to show up in search results for that phrase.

Since Google can make a strong statistical association between the query [sushi bar] and documents that would fall into a category of “Japanese restaurants,” it’s possible that the search engine might boost pages that have been categorized as “Japanese restaurants” in search results on a search for [sushi bar]. My supermarket [sushi bar] page might not get the same boost.

That’s something that a Google patent granted earlier this week tells us.

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