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

Jan 14, 2010
Anand Srinivasan

Apple Working On Proximity Based Advertising

An interesting patent filed by Apple at the US Patent and Trademark Office reveals a new technology that Apple has been working on that will enable users to be targeted by advertisers based on their proximity to their business.

The patent primarily talks about letting users add their contacts as icons on their Home Screen. This would enable users to quickly access the contact information of their closest pals.

“An icon can be created for a contact (e.g., an individual(s) or an entity) and presented on a user interface of a mobile device, such as a “home screen.” The icon can be used to retrieve and display contact information. The icon can also be used to invoke one or more applications that are personalized to the contact. The icon can be modified to display information related to the contact.”

But the inventors do not stop there. The patent further talks about integrating this technology to let businesses contact people based on their proximity. For example, users around a coffee shop may choose to receive contact information, address and current offers whenever they are near one of those shops.  The inventors elaborate on the technology with the help of an example

“In some implementations, a contact 610 can temporarily appear on a mobile device 100 when the mobile device 100 is within a determined proximity of a contact host. The contact host can be a server or device operated by an individual, entity or service capable of providing the icon and related application information. In the present example, the contact host is a server operated by a coffee house called “Rocket Java”. An alert can be presented on the mobile device 100 to indicate that a temporary contact or application is available to the mobile device 100. In one example, the alert can have two options: “dismiss” and “view contact.” After the contact has been viewed, other options can be presented, including options like “add to local contacts” or “save to the home screen.” The selection of these options by the user results in the contact being added to an address book application or the home screen, respectively.”

The inventors write that the contact can be established via any of the wired or wireless communications, including bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GPS,etc.

While this does sound interesting, the latter part to let advertisers contact you based on proximity does not actually sound plausible. For an instance, consider a scenario where a user approaching a mall is contacted by several dozens of retailers in the area. Does it sound like a nice deal to receive so many pop-up notifications in the blink of an eye?

Jan 14, 2010
Anand Srinivasan

Motorola Backflip To Be Priced At $324 Pre-Subsidized

The folks over at Phandroid website are citing anonymous sources as claiming that the Motorola Backflip, AT&T’s first Android handset shall be launching on March 7 at a pre-subsidized price of $324.

The Motorola Backflip was demoed at the CES and is called the “ultra-flexible, double jointed, ridiculously bendable version” of Motorola CLIQ by Phandroid. Here is a video demo of the device from the website

What do you think of the $324 price-tag? Is it a tad cheaper than you expected? And do you think this will affect its positioning? Let us know in the comments
[via Phandroid]

Jan 14, 2010
Anand Srinivasan

Coming Soon : Sirius XM App For Blackberry

Blackberry users will soon claim access to Sirius XM on their RIM device. A commenter on the OrbitCast website who claims to be in the know has said that the application for Blackberry will be released either this month or next and will be very much like the Sirius XM iPhone app.

As is obvious, users will require a paid account with Sirius and this will give the users access to 120 different channels. According to the source, the Sirius XM Blackberry app will support the following models

  • Storm 1—Series 9530
  • Storm 2—Series 9550
  • Bold—Series 9000, 9700
  • Tour—Series 9630
  • Curve—Series 8900, 8520, 8530

Support for other models is expected to be available soon after.
[Orbitcast via Crunch Gear]

Jan 13, 2010
Anand Srinivasan

Sprint Partnering With Walmart To Build WiMax Network

Sprint is planning on introducing WiMax supported handsets later this year to its customers in USA. As a first step, it is speculated that the operator has inked a partnership with Walmart to erect WiMax towers on all of their retail stores.

According to AndroidGuys, the website that breaks this story, a prime reason behind this move is to do away with zoning permissions which shall otherwise be required to gain land for each of the towers all over the country.

We are still not sure if this news is confirmed, but if true, it can be some pretty smart thinking on part of Sprint. What do you think?

[via AndroidGuys]

Jan 13, 2010
Anand Srinivasan

Nintendo To Bring Netflix Movies To Wii

Your Nintendo Wii can soon be used to watch streaming online movies from Netflix according to a report from New York Times. According to a report published on the newspaper, the announcement is expected to be made later in the day today.

The move, it is said, is because of the declining numbers of gaming sequels which have meant that consumers are no longer looking at buying dedicated gaming consoles. As a result, console manufacturers have been forced to position their products as a platform to bridge living room television with online multimedia.

This is not the first time a gaming console manufacturer has taken this move. Sony’s PlayStation already has the ability for viewers to puchase movies from Sony’s library of movies while Xbox users can buy high definition movies from the Zune store.

The deal with Netflix will let Wii users access the vast library of older movies and television shows from Netflix. Users will still need to separately purchase the $9 a month subscription from Netflix to use the service.

[via The New York Times]

Jan 13, 2010
Anand Srinivasan

Xerox Brings Behavioral Targeting To Television Advertising

Xerox, the leader in document management solutions has filed an intriguing patent recently. Titled “APPARATUS AND METHOD FOR EMBEDDING COMMERCIALS”, the invention talks of a technology that will alter audio/video of a TV program in order to suit the tastes of the television viewer.

Here are some excerpts from the patent which will be of interest

“As shown in FIG. 4, there is a display 400 which may be displayed at an end user’s home and a display 410 which may be displayed at another end user’s home. The two end users may be next door neighbors, live on different streets, in different cities, different states, or countries. Both display 400 and display 410 depict the same television program. However, the broadcasted program is altered so that it is customized for the individual user. For instance, the end user watching display 400 may be into sports. Therefore, the audio data would be altered so that when the character says the name of the store, the character would say Modell’s.RTM.. In addition the video of the broadcasted program would be replaced so the sign 402 on the storefront shows Modell’s.RTM. and lips 401 of the character would also be altered so that it seems as if he/she is saying Modell’s.RTM.. On the other hand, the end user watching display 410 may be into clothing. Therefore, the audio data would be altered so that when the character says the name of the store, the character would say Macys.RTM.. In addition the video of the broadcasted program would be replaced so the sign 412 on the storefront shows Macys.RTM. and lips 411 of the character would also be altered so that it seems as if he/she is saying Macys.RTM..”

Significant Invention

As the inventors claim, ROI of television advertising has been falling of late because more and more people are choosing not to view advertisements aired during commercial breaks. Also, product placements within the program are not relevant to all the audience.

With such an invention, ads may be personalized to suit individual tastes so that the advertisers get the maximum benefit. Could this also mean the end of commercial breaks?

Why It Would Ruin The System

This is no doubt a significant invention. But this would change the landscape of television programming forever. At present, TV content monetization is so fairly focused on content. The program with better content gets more eyeballs and hence more revenues.

But such an invention could alter content in such a way that producers needlessly get their characters speak of brand names just for the sake of monetization. The quality of programming could suffer.

As internet marketers would know, this could be the television version of the “Made for Adsense” websites – those that are built for the sole sake of displaying Google ads.

What do you think?

Jan 13, 2010
Anand Srinivasan

Apple Tablet Not To Come With Camera Or Webcam

Earlier this week, Stephane Richard, VP at French Telecom/Orange seemed to agree with a journalist that the upcoming Apple Tablet could come with a camera or webcam. While this was promptly denied by the spokesperson for Orange who claimed that Richard’s statements were misread, it was still taken as a confirmation of a crucial Apple Tablet feature.

However, John Gruber from Daring Fireball has claimed that his sources have told him that the Apple Tablet will not be coming with a camera or webcam. In his words,

“Carriers do not get to see Apple products in advance. Remember Stan Sigman, CEO of Cingular? He admitted it flatly when the iPhone debuted: Cingular agreed to carry the iPhone without having seen it.

And, for what it’s worth, I’m hearing there is no camera, webcam or otherwise, on The Tablet.”
For now, we choose to side with Gruber on this one. Translations can always be misleading and it is probable that we all jumped the gun on this one.