Google’s Holy Grail of Shopping?

Sometimes patent filings from the search engines don’t describe some hidden algorithm or behind-the scenes-technology, but instead detail a whole new way of doing business. Here’s one such document published yesterday by Google that looks at shopping for products and services in a completely different manner.

Keep in mind that previously, Google’s product and shopping services have included Froogle, Google Catalogs, and Google Local. If something like what is described here is developed, it could change around the way many people shop.

This patent filing expands upon those offerings in a dramatic manner, from assistance inside of stores, restaurants, resorts, travel terminals and others, through driving and walking directions that tell you about sales and promotions at the end point of the trip, and along the way. It allows stores to dynamically offer promotions across a chain, or manually enter specials at specific locations.

Generating and/or serving dynamic promotional offers such as coupons and advertisements
Inventors: Ashutosh Garg and Allen Romero
US Patent Application 20060143080
Published June 29, 2006
Filed December 29, 2004

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Innovating Product Reviews at Google

Some sites on the web do reviews of products and services pretty well, such as amazon.com or rottentomatos.com.

Imagine Google wanting to provide product reviews. One of the mantras that we often hear coming from their Mountain View offices is that they wouldn’t get into a field unless they can do something innovative.

So, how might Google handle reviews? A new product reviews patent application from the company gives us some insight into what they might do. It includes reviews of things such as:

  • consumer products,
  • business products,
  • movies,
  • books,
  • restaurants,
  • hotels, and;
  • travel packages.

Why bother with this product reviews patent application?

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Customized Travel Directions with Google

I remember when one of my co-workers once asked me if I would help her plot out a map, and customized travel directions so that she could go on a road trip to two of the largest shopping malls in the area.

I’m not always very happy with the driving directions that I get from one of the mapping services on the web, and this was something of a challenge, because the trip would pretty much be a big triangle – Point A to Point B (Plymouth Meeting Mall) to Point C (King of Prussia Mall) to Point A.

I pretty much had to plot three sets of courses, and try it in at least three mapping programs, until I got some customized travel directions that seemed like they would work best. At some point it went from challenging to painful.

I guess I’m not the only one who wished that driving directions could be a little more customizable.

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Google Transit Trip Planner in Toronto?

Angie McKaig writes about the possible expansion of Google’s Transit Trip Planner service to Toronto.

At the time that I orginally write this post, the Google Transit service was only available in the Portland, Oregon, area according to the Google Transit FAQ at that time, but that page told us that they “plan to expand to cities throughout the United States and around the world.” Look at the Google Maps Transit page to see where it’s now available.

Ms. McKaig noted an article in this morning’s Metro News on the creation of such a service. The article reports that the City was considering creating its own online service with transit information which would have cost more than $2 million. They also note that there are no estimates of a cost involving partnering with Google, nor has a time frame been established if they move forward together.

Union Depot, Toronto, circa 1890 and 1901, via Library of Congress, reproduction number LC-D4-12741

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Community Endorsements for Local Searches

Endorsing local search results as a ranking signal?

Imagine joining a social network like Orkut or Friendster and having the chance to leave comments on local businesses, restaurants, and more, and endorsing show up in Google local results.

The folks at Google have imagined something like that, and have published a Community Endorsements patent application that describes how it might be done.

Methods and systems for endorsing local search results

Inventors: Thomas Christopher Korte, Sumit Agarwal, and Celia Saino
United States Patent Application 20060004713
Filed: June 30, 2004
Published January 5, 2006

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Human Friendly Driving Directions From Google?

Google Human Friendly Driving Directions

I need landmarks when I get driving directions. I get lost without them.

The last time I took a long trip by car, I used a couple of different online mapping programs to get me to where I was going. Or at least most of the way there. The directions worked fine the first 320 miles until I had less than a couple of miles to go.

Then I drove around for 40 minutes, in the middle of Massachusetts, trying to find a hotel that I had made reservations at.

I wish that there was something better. Something that was human friendly.

Yep, I didn’t ask someone for directions. I should have. A couple of good landmarks would have really helped.

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