Jan 8, 2010
Anand Srinivasan

Google’s Patented Book Scanning Method Revealed

Google’s book scanning process was patented way back in March of last year. However, till date, we were not able to catch it in action. An article on how the activity is being performed in a Japanese library gives us a glimpse how Google is able to achieve the following:

a. Scan the pages quickly
b. How the text near the curved middle section of the book is captured
c. What is being done to avoid page skipping and accidental capture of the hands of the book flipper

According to an article published on SciTeDaily, the books are not placed upside down as in traditional practice. They are kept facing up and two cameras photograph the two pages. Another IR ray that throws up light in a specific maze like structure captures the text near the curvature in order to ‘flatten’ it to decipher what the text might look when straight.

Google has also apparently patented a music based technology that will give a buzz every time a page is skipped or the book flippers’ hands appear inadvertently.

[via SciTechDaily]

Jan 8, 2010
Anand Srinivasan

AOL Likely To Extend Search Partnership With Google

Google’s search deal with AOL is likely to continue beyond the contractual period which ends later in the year. This was announced by the CEO of AOL, Tim Armstrong at an annual event held at Citi.

Though Armstrong did not explicitly confirm the extension of the search partnership, he insisted that Google will be the first choice partner and will get the “first dibs” at signing the deal when the current agreement period comes to an end.

However, Armstrong did clarify that this does not mean the company would bend backwards to secure the deal and anything that they sign have to be overall beneficial to the entire company and not just their search business. He also commented on Microsoft’s recent push into search advertising saying this could help them with securing better economics.

AOL has of late, been extensively focusing on their bunch of content portals which the company sees as a viable competitor to the content portals of Yahoo and the likes.

[via WSJ]

Jan 8, 2010
Anand Srinivasan

Does Google Need Yelp Any More?

You might know that Google was on the verge of acquiring the popular local reviews website until recently when one of the two companies walked away from the discussions.

Today, Google has introduced a simple yet amazingly powerful ‘Near Me Now’ feature. Android and iPhone users who visit Google.com will now be shown this link at the bottom of the Google.com webpage. Clicking on this link will let you check out all the bars, restaurants, etc. in the vicinity.

The feature is presently only available inside the US and Google has not announced when it plans to introduce the feature for other countries.

[via Google Mobile Blog]

Jan 8, 2010
Anand Srinivasan

Google Working On Introducing Map-View Advertisements

Quite a few of us would have used the Google Real Estate portal while buying or selling real estate properties. These listings, which are either got through web-crawling or when real estate agents submit their listings are absolutely free. The only way Google monetizes the properties is through text-based advertisements on the sidebar and at the bottom of the map-based listings.

Now, it appears that the company is working on technology that will bring advertisements right into the map. In a recently filed patent titled “Claiming Real Estate in Panoramic or 3D Mapping Environments for Advertising”, the company explains how the ad-bidding system for real estate advertising will work. In the patent, Google writes

“Techniques for identifying groups of features in an online geographic view of a real property and replacing and/or augmenting the groups of features with advertisement information are described. The techniques include providing a geographic view of a property within an online property management system, identifying a region of interest in the geographic view, analyzing the geographic view to locate one or more promotional features within the geographic view positioned upon a real property region, providing a user-selectable link associated with the region of interest in the geographic view, receiving a request for the region of interest in the geographic view via the user-selectable link, receiving data to alter at least one of the behavior or the appearance of the region of interest, storing the data in association with the geographic view, and updating the region of interest within the geographic view based upon the received data.”

The patent talks elaborately about how the advertisers’ dashboard shall work and how the system will work to display the sponsored listings.

The system will apparently work on the basis of how popular a particular real estate property is. It is not clear if the advertisement will appear across a locality or shall be tagged alongside a particular real estate property.

You might remember that this is not the first time Google is introducing sponsored listings on Google Maps. Such ads are already available on generic map views. However, it appears that this will be the first time when these listings will also be made available on real estate listings.

Jan 7, 2010
Anand Srinivasan

Google and On2 Revise Merger Agreements

Video solutions provider, On2 has announced that their merger with Google has been modified with revised merger agreements. According to a report on TechCrunch, On2 shareholders now get an additional $0.15 in cash for every share that they hold.

The merger deal between Google and On2 that was announced in August of last year got into trouble when On2 shareholders sued the management for selling the company at a lower valuation. Back then, Google had agreed to offer 0.0010 share of Class A common stock in exchange for every share of On2.

Following the revised agreements, Google has said that their stock valuation has significantly increased since the agreement was made and also with an additional 15 cents per stock, the deal should be satisfactory to the shareholders.

The new shareholder meeting is expected to happen next month.

[via TechCrunch]

Jan 7, 2010
Anand Srinivasan

Patent Reveals Upcoming Interface Design For Google Chrome OS

Google Chrome OS is one of the hottest and most awaited products for 2010. Demos of the product have already been made by Google executives. While, we do already have an idea of the basic user interfaces, a recently filed patent reveals a much deeper insight into the upcoming Google Chrome OS.

The patent which is titled “Web based user interface for selecting options” talks specifically about icon display and selection. In the patent, Google talks about the ‘cons’ of the competitor operating systems like Windows XP and Apple OS X. About Apple, Google writes

“One shortcoming is that jsdock uses inefficient algorithms for discovering that an icon is indicated or not indicated and for scaling icons. Another shortcoming is that jsdock displays each icon by scaling a single image to the appropriate size. Yet another shortcoming is that jsdock is limited to image scaling effects.”

Google claims to do away with inefficiencies in the previous Operating systems display mechanisms with their own algorithm that helps to scale image sizes differently while user works on them.

Google’s patent also reveals a minimalist UI of the Google Chrome OS window. Here is a screenshot of the same

The image is interesting because this is significantly different from the Chrome OS prototypes we have seen till now. Here is Google’s earlier demonstration of how Chrome OS will look like

What do you think? Is it possible that Google has changed their UI design? Tell us your thoughts in the comments

Jan 7, 2010
Anand Srinivasan

“Popular Items” on Google Reader No Longer Popular

There has not been much news nor developments when it comes to the RSS readers of late – even with the one popular Google Reader. But looks like at least the cosmetic changes are still happening.

In a tweet posted today, Google has announced that the “Popular Items” list on the ‘Explore’ section in Google Reader has been renamed as ‘Recommended Items’. Well, there is no explanation for why it was done. Google’s tweet reads

“We recently re-named the “Popular Items” link to “Recommended Items” in the “explore” section. The content of the feed is still the same.”

Why do you think this change was done? Do you even know someone who uses the Explore section? Please tell us in the comments.

Jan 6, 2010
Anand Srinivasan

Google Launching ‘Pay Per Call’ Advertising This Month

In a communication sent to Adwords advertisers, Google has noted that the rumored Pay Per Call feature for Adwords listings for mobile phones will go live from this month. An official statement regarding this is awaited.

So how will this work? Hereon, advertisers who wish to talk to prospective clients in the location of their interest shall be displayed phone numbers alongside the ads and shall be prompted to call the advertiser. Users making such calls shall be connected to the advertiser who will pay for the lead in as much the same way as ‘Pay Per Click’. The feature is expected to be popular among the smartphone users who are known to surf the web a lot more than feature phone users.

What do you think about this feature? Can this be more effective, considering that you get to talk to a prospective lead or will this lead to a lot of junk calls thus spilling advertising costs for the advertisers? Please tell us in the comments.

[via SearchEngineLand]

Jan 6, 2010
Anand Srinivasan

Move Over Smartphones, It is SuperPhones Now

By now, you must be aware of all the tech specifications of the Google Nexus One. Well, it did not have anything different from what was speculated. However, one thing that has interested everyone is the integration of voice capabilities into all the applications – email, text messaging, maps, etc. That means you can simply dictate away instead of navigating through. How effective is it to the various accents, we are still not very sure, but the software is known to train itself and so you should be able to dictate much easier with more usage.

Google calls it a “superphone“. We would tend to disagree with this. Despite the gigahertz processors, it can still be called yet another smartphone. It was a needless extension of a category that is still in its formative years.

But one thing that the Nexus One has revolutionized is the distribution. As we had mentioned earlier in our article on the secret behind the Nexus One name, Nexus One shall be coming up with a lot of operators (available with just T-Mobile currently). Like the Google executive said during the briefing, the idea is for you to get the phone and then choose an operator rather than the other way round.

What do you think of this new strategy and will you be going for it? Do tell us. And yes, if you are, check out Google Phone page to order right away.

Jan 5, 2010
Anand Srinivasan

Google Offers To Sponsor White Spaces Project For Five Years

White Spaces is a project that was launched by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as a way to open up the unused part the television broadcast spectrum for unlicensed use which can help in offering wireless broadband at much higher speeds.

Google joined this project back in February of last year and has been working with the FCC in actively pushing the project through. The company has now urged the FCC to assign it the role of managing the database. In a proposal sent to the FCC yesterday, the company claims that their experience with such projects can be put to great use by taking part in an initiative that can help bring “WiFi on steroids”.

Also part of the proposal, the company has offered to sponsor the project for a full five year term if given the opportunity. The company writes

“Google is a large public company whose financial statements are a matter of public record.  Google has sufficient funds and access to capital to develop and operate the proposed Database for a full five-year term. We intend to operate the Database for a minimum of five years after being designated an administrator, as contemplated by the Commission’s rules.

In the event we do not complete a five-year term, we will transfer to a successor entity the Database, the IP addresses and URLs used to access the Database, and the list of registered Fixed WSDs, as required by the rules.”
Elaborating on the need for the company to participate in this program, Google writes
“We continue to be big believers in the potential for this spectrum to revolutionize wireless broadband, and we think it’s important for us to step forward and offer our assistance to make that vision a reality.”
The FCC response to the proposal is not yet known.