Google’s not the only business that’s been driving around making videos of the streets of the United States. Facet Technology, which lists Bing as one of their technology partners, does something similar and offers navigation and location based services data and software. Back in 2009, Facet Technology and TomTom struck up a deal allowing TomTom to license Facet patented technology. It appears from a January/February 2010 report from topographic science Professor Gordon Petrie for Geoinformatics, that Facet Technology provided street level images for Microsoft in their initial demos for that service in 2006. (The Windows Live Local SUV pictured in that report looks similar to the image below from a Facet Technology patent.)
From the USPTO assignments database, it appears that Google has acquired Facet Technologies interest in the assigment of a number of their patents, which I’ve listed below. The execution data on the assignments is listed as June 21, 2011, and the assignments were recorded with the patent office on August 8, 2010. The USTPO database doesn’t provide any details behind the transaction such as costs or other considerations involved or licensing agreements that Facet Tech might have in place with other companies, or if Google acquired the company, its maps databases or just some of its intellectual property.
Will Facebook someday launch their own search engine that enables you to search the Web? That question surfaces every so often, without any real definitive answers. It’s possible that they might someday, especially since they’ve been hiring a number of people with job experience from some of the major search engines.
The last few times I recall seeing the possibility of a Facebook search engine raised was when a couple of different Facebook patents originally acquired from Friendster were granted, and each described an aspect of how a search engine might use connections on a social network to influence results seen on a search of the Web. (For example, see this post: Facebook Patents “Curated Search” To Attack Google.) A different question, and one that is just as interesting is how the search on Facebook itself works. A patent application published at the USTPO today gives us some ideas of how it may work.
I have to confess that I’ve rarely searched at Facebook, and I don’t think that I’ve ever searched using anything other than the search box at the tops of pages. There is a Facebook search interface, as seen in the image above, that allows you to choose between the following to search for:
Imagine that you want to find a pair of vintage Levi’s jeans for sale on the Web. You go to Google and enter the search terms [vintage clothes jeans]. Your expectation and mine might be that Google performs a search for all three terms, but what if instead it does a first search for [vintage clothes] and then a second search for [jeans] amongst the sites it receives from the first search. It might also include results from pages linked to or from the pages that show up in the top initial search results?
Chances are that you would get a very different set of search results for each approach. And you wouldn’t even know that Google did two searches instead of one. (Though you may have suspected something really odd was happening if you owned a site that sold vintage levi’s jeans and watched Google results carefully.)
This past June, Google presented a way for us to use HTML to indicate that we are the authors of blog posts and online articles and other content on the Web. The details were introduced in Authorship markup and web search. I wrote more about it in Author Markup, Schema.org and Patents, Oh My!
One of the benefits of using Authorship Markup is the possibility of Google search results showing your Google Profile image to the right of pages that you’ve used the markup on to indicate as being from you, along with a link to that profile. It’s possible that the Authorship markup might be the start of something bigger.
Sir Bedevere: What makes you think she’s a witch?
Peasant 3: Well, she turned me into a newt!
Sir Bedevere: A newt?
Peasant 3: [meekly after a long pause] … I got better.
Crowd: [shouts] Burn her anyway!
From the color-me-unsurprised department comes news from Time Magazine’s Techland that 92% of Newt Gingrich’s Twitter Followers Aren’t Real. I’m not making a statement with this post about the politician’s politics, or his character, or even an indictment of social media itself. Mainly because I think far too many people are guilty of the same thing – trying to use inflated social media stats to prove their social worth.
I discussed this with keynote marketing speaker David Dalka this morning, and he shared his thoughts in Twitter Gate – Buy More Twitter Followers Free Instantly – Business Marketing Strategy Implications?, digging into some of the business issues involved surrounding social media and pursuing followers on social networks:
It makes one wonder where all these non-real followers are coming from and more than a few CEOs are likely reading this article and asking the question, “Is all this investment in social media justified and an activity that will grow my business and improve the bottom line or are there wiser investments to be made?”
In the Google paper, Predicting Bounce Rates in Sponsored Search Advertisements (pdf), we’re told about an experiment at Google where researchers used a document classification model on sponsored advertisements and landing pages to try to predict how many people might see an advertisement in Google’s search results, and after clicking upon the ad leave the landing page very quickly. The experiment in that paper is also described in another Google paper, PLANET: Massively Parallel Learning of Tree Ensembles with MapReduce (pdf), which tells us how Google might be able to take an extremely large amount of observational data and use it to create classifications that, amongst other things, could potentially be used to help rank pages in organic search like we’ve been told that Google’s Panda updates do.
A patent from Google was granted today that appears to use a similar approach to determine whether sponsored advertisements in Google might lead to malware. The patent describes malware as malicious software that might be deceptively or automatically installed on a visitor’s computer when they arrive at a page. In addition to trojan horses and viruses, this can include monitoring software. In some instances a landing page may be the first in a series of one or more redirections, which can include malware on the page or pages being redirected to. The need for such a classification approach comes about because of the sheer volume of advertisements that Google shows.
We know that Google’s Panda updates look for features on websites that indicate “quality” in some manner. Under the document classification approach in this patent, “intrusion features” are tested and weighted on landing pages.
In my last couple of posts, I wrote about the acquisition of over 1,000 patents from IBM by Google. There are a number of reasons why a company might acquire a patent. In the case of the IBM patents, it’s likely that many of those will be used to protect Google from patent infringement litigation. It’s possible that some might be considered as launching points for the development of technology or processes that the company could use internally, or may offer to others outside of Google itself.
Some other recent patent acquisitions by Google include patents from Exbiblio, from Widevine, the phone patents from Myriad Group, more phone related patents from Verizon, and a number of memory chip related patents from Metaram, amongst others.
While many of those have the flavor of patents acquired to either help protect Google from patent litigation or to help them develop new technologies, a pair of patents recorded in the USPTO assignment database this Thursday, assigning the interests of Successes.com in those patents to Google, have a different taste to them. Successes.com is a company run by veteran broadcaster Jan Ziff (a correspondent for the BBC, the State Department, Voice of America, Associated Press, Mutual Radio, and National Public Radio’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered) and her executive producer on the 20 year CBS international news show Sound*Bytes, Allan Davidson. The testimonials page from successes.com includes many from some fairly large tech companies, including Nextel, America Online, Red Hat, Zonelabs, and this one from Google:
Yesterday I noticed a very large number of new patents listed in the USPTO assignment records for Google from IBM, and made note of them in a post, Google Acquires Over 1,000 IBM Patents in July.
I didn’t expect or anticipate the interest that my post would stir up, though I probably should have, given what seems to be an increased amount of litigation directed at Google involving patent infringement claims, with Apple taking on HTC and Google, Oracle and Google disputing use of Java in Android, Purple Leaf taking exception to Checkout, and other suits.
Given the interest in the IBM patents in a number of places on the web and some conversations I had, I thought it might be a good idea to provide the list of patents that Google acquired earlier this month. Google acquired a number of additional patents from IBM earlier this year and last year as well. I included those in my February post, Google Patents, Updated and Google Self Driving Cars Get Jumpstart from IBM Patents.
In yesterdays’ post, I mentioned that these newly acquired patents cover a wide range of topics, and I’ve had little chance to go through most of them. Some appear to be very broad, while others are much more narrow. Google might find a number of them useful in covering activities they are engaged in presently, such as the manufacture of a very large number of servers. Some include industries that Google might not venture into, such as the fabrication of chips. Many of them might act to help limit litigation aimed at Google.