Jan 18, 2010
Anand Srinivasan

Nokia Moves Ahead On Flexible Phone Displays

The next generation of phones wouldn’t need you to carry them in your pockets. They shall be flexible enough to be worn as a bracelet. While concept phones as these are not exactly new, Nokia’s new patent offers some interesting insights into what the company is working on.

In the patent titled “USER INTERFACE, DEVICE AND METHOD FOR A PHYSICALLY FLEXIBLE DEVICE”, the inventors reveal the development of a technology that will enable display screens to adapt to bend. An excerpt from the patent reads

“a user interface and a device incorporating such user interface having a flexible screen capable of being small and mobile while still allowing several user actions to be taken is desirable.”

An interesting invention described in the patent is about the way the phone shall carry out different tasks based on the way it is bent. An example suggested in the patent reads

“In one embodiment the pre-specified shape is also associated with a movement. As a pre-specified shape is detected and followed by the detection of a pre-specified movement an associated function is executed.

“FIG. 10a shows a device having been bent to resemble a can, possibly used to hold beer or soda. A search will thus be performed for a bar or a pub either a specific franchise or any bar or pub in the neighborhood.

FIG. 10b shows a device having been bent to resemble a bowl. A search will thus be performed for a restaurant either a specific franchise or any restaurant in the neighborhood.

FIG. 10c shows a device having been bent to resemble a roof or a tent. A search will thus be performed for a hotel, motel or guest house either a specific franchise or any hotel, motel or guesthouse in the neighborhood. “

Nokia had earlier said that such technologies will be the  norm by 2015. What do you think? Will we such devices in the mainstream by then?

Jan 16, 2010
Anand Srinivasan

Yahoo Interested In Yelp?

After Google walking away from the Yelp deal (or the other way round?), it appears like Yahoo could possibly be wooing the local reviews website. In a recent interview with Brian Womack from Business Week, Carol Bartz, the CEO at Yahoo hinted at the possibility.

Bartz was asked whether her company was looking at acquiring Yelp, to which she replied

“Local is extemely important. People do some outrageous percentage of their commercial spending five miles from their home.”

That is still not an emphatic “Yes”. But then it is not a “No” either and for the moment, we will just assume that Yahoo is interested.

[Business Week via WebProNews]

Jan 16, 2010
Anand Srinivasan

Palm Pre Plus Price $149.99?

Folks at UberGizmo are reporting rumors about the price of Palm Pre Plus and Pixi Plus. According to their source, Palm Pre Plus will come at $149.99 after a mail-in rebate and a contract while Pixi Plus will come cheaper at $99.99.

The prices seem to be reflective of their features and is pretty likely. But note that this is still a rumor and so take it with a grain of salt. The official prices are expected to be revealed on January 25th.

True or not, we will know by then.

[via UberGizmo]

Jan 16, 2010
Anand Srinivasan

Microsoft Developing User-Generated Advertising Model

You could soon be seeing your friends recommend products for you on your social network. Microsoft has filed a patent for a new advertising method for generating User-Generated-Advertisements.

The patent elaborates on the low engagement level in ads on social networks because of the low relevance factor. To solve this, the patent calls for a new technique wherein the original ad can be supplemented with user reviews – positive and negative.

In the filing, the inventors say that subsequent visitors to the website could be shown few of those reviews based on relevance (reviewer is the new visitor’s friend, they have similar interests, etc.). Here is an example quoted in the patent

” Advertisement 400 includes objective information 401 describing a product or service that is the subject of the advertisement 400. The objective information 401 is generally provided by a promoter of the product.”

“In other information fields 403, 405, and 407, information is presented that was provided by users of the social networking web site. This information can be subjective in nature, such as the accolade provided by “USER1″ in other information field 403.”

“if both the user which provided the information and the user to whom the advertisement is being presented are both members of the same social network (e.g., the users are “friends” or a functional equivalent within the social networking site), the information provided by the user is presented as part of the advertisement. Other criteria can also be applied in determining the amount of information to present.”

The patent emphasizes the use of reviews from users of one social network elsewhere in other websites or networks.

This looks a more exhaustive ads-review system that is currently used in Facebook. On Facebook, users may choose to ‘Like‘ an ad which is possibly used in determining other ads to be shown to the same user; though in Microsoft’s case the reviews are stored to be displayed to other users of the same social network or elsewhere.

Jan 15, 2010
Anand Srinivasan

HTC Hero To Get Android 2.1 In February

A Polish Android website claims that HTC Hero in Europe may directly leap ahead to come installed with Android 2.1 OS next month. Apparently, the news about this has come from the “top at HTC Poland“.

We are not sure about the claims, but as we had already heard, HTC Hero was expected to give a slip to Android 1.6 and come directly on Android 2.0 or 2.01. With Android 2.1, HTC Hero might only be the second device after the Google Nexus One to come with the recently launched platform.

[Android.com.pl via Android Guys]

Jan 15, 2010
Anand Srinivasan

Google Might Quit China In Two Months, Android Engineers To Stay

According to industry sources quoted by Marbridge consulting, Google could be departing mainland China within two months from now. However, answering lingering doubts about the viability of a pull out considering all that is at stake for the Android platform, the source has said that Android engineers – about 100 of them could stay back.

A video conference was arranged at the Google China office where Sergei Brin directly addressed them. In the discussion, Brin told the employees that no formal decision had been taken and any outcome would be determined after discussions with the Chinese government.

According to the source, 100 Android engineers shall continue their service and additional engineers may be pulled in as the project required.

[via Marbridge Consulting]

Jan 15, 2010
Anand Srinivasan

Windows Mobile 7 Actually Releasing Only In 2011?

Earlier this week, we had rubbished reports of Windows Mobile 7 not launching this year. The line of thinking had been that Microsoft had already confirmed the launch of the next edition of Windows Mobile next month at the Mobile World Congress.

Now, it appears that Win Mobile 7 might not actually release next month. But Microsoft is indeed launching the next edition of its mobile operating system – Windows Mobile 6.6.

The DigiTimes reports

“Microsoft reportedly plans to launch Windows Mobile 6.6 (codenamed Maldives) in February 2010 to strengthen its competitiveness against iPhone- and Android-based platforms, according to industry sources.

Sales of Windows Mobile 6.5 have been flat since the platform was launched in the fourth quarter of 2009, pushing Microsoft to bring forward Windows Mobile 6.6, which supports capacitive touchscreens, the sources noted.”

Support to capacitive touch screens could boost the  saleability of Windows Mobile to a great extent. What do you think?

[via DigiTimes]

Jan 15, 2010
Anand Srinivasan

Yahoo Bringing Real-time Parking Space Availability On Maps

Yahoo is working on a technology that will enable visitors to get real time parking space availability information on the internet or mobile phone. According to a patent filed by the company at the US Patent and Trademark Office, the invention will make use of sensors attached to the individual parking lots which will be tracked real time on Yahoo Maps.

In the filing, the inventors write

“[A] parking availability determining system includes a sensor system and a parking availability determiner. The sensor system is configured to monitor a plurality of parking spaces. The sensor system includes at least one sensor element that generates a sensor data output signal. The parking availability determiner receives the sensor data output signal and generates parking availability information.”

The inventors make a concluding statement about how the parking space availability information may be used

“Note that parking availability determiner and/or map generator may include hardware, software, firmware, or any combination thereof to perform at least a portion of their functions. For example, parking availability determiner and/or map generator may include computer code configured to be executed in one or more processors. Alternatively, parking availability determinerand/or map generator may include hardware logic/electrical circuitry.”

Is Yahoo planning to enter GPS navigation market?

Jan 15, 2010
Anand Srinivasan

Speed Up Internet On Blackberry By Setting Up Proxy Server

Browsing the internet on your Blackberry should soon get quicker. A recent patent filed by RIM at the US Patent and Trademark office seeks to speed up the internet on handsets by setting up a proxy server on the device.

Titled “SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR ENHANCING NETWORK BROWSING SPEED BY SETTING A PROXY SERVER ON A HANDHELD DEVICE”, the patent describes the present method of accessing internet which makes browsing slow. The inventors write

“One reason is that the data is sent across the air uncompressed. This increases traffic and lowers browsing speed. Another reason is that the browser may have to make multiple requests before it is able to display a single document.[...]Requests and responses are sent back and forth wirelessly multiple times, slowing browsing speed and delaying webpage delivery.”

To sort this problem out, the inventors seek to create a proxy server on the handheld device that will compress and transcode the HTTP request before it sent through the wireless gateway. The inventors say this will speed up web page delivery.

“A system for enhancing network-browsing speed by setting a proxy server on a handheld device comprises a browser for sending a request for requesting a message from a website and receiving a response in response to the request, a proxy server for transcoding and compressing the request, and transcoding and decompressing the response including the requested message in response to the request, a wireless network communicably linked to the proxy server, Mobile Data Service (MDS) gateway for transcoding and decompressing the request, and transcoding and compressing the response including the requested message from the website.”

Here is a visual representation of the procedure

Jan 14, 2010
Anand Srinivasan

Youtube To Make It Easier For Advertisers To Create Ads

Google’s problems with generating revenue from Youtube are pretty well known. This is despite introducing video overlay ads some time back. According to Google, a major reason behind this is because a lot of advertisers do not have the necessary resources to develop advertisements that can displayed upon videos.

As a solution to this, Youtube has been working on an interface that shall help advertisers easily create overlay ads just by filling up a few text fields. In a patent titled “VIDEO OVERLAY ADVERTISEMENT CREATOR” filed today at the US Patent and Trademark Office, the inventors have sought the rights for developing such an interface. In the patent, the inventors write

“In one embodiment, values specifying attributes of a desired video overlay advertisement are entered via a browser-based user interface functioning on a client device and communicated to the advertisement creation server’s advertisement creation module. The advertisement creation server receives the values and in response creates and provides to the client device a video overlay advertisement having the desired attributes, which the client displays within the browser-based user interface. In one embodiment, the browser-based user interface displays multiple advertisement segments, each segment having attributes representing the appearance of the advertisement at a particular point in time, and a set of transitions between the segments. In one embodiment, the browser-based user interface includes controls for specifying the actions that are taken in response to selection of the advertisement.”

Here are a couple of pictures that will give a clearer picture of what the interface intends to do