Google’s Phone Patent A Ghost In Your Machine
For now, we’ll put off dark fantasies of robots taking over. No, no, no. No Skynet, no iRobot, none of that. If you don’t want go cross-eyed trying to read a recent Google patent application, just take some smart people’s word for it. Google’s working on a phone technology that knows more about you than you do.
Part of me thinks the incredibly dull technical language in the patent is to discourage people from trying to read it. But copious use of phrases like "information indicative of predictive textual outcomes" and "corresponding plurality of predictive weightings" might mean that the mobile search technology (that according to one source could be in use in Apple’s iPhone) knows who you are, where you are, and what you’re most likely to be searching for.
Consider this scenario:
You’re at a ballgame at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. You’ve had enough Tubby-style inch-by-inch basketball by the five-minute mark and you’re ready to go eat. Ballgame traffic is a nightmare, as always, and if Kentucky loses there’s going to be a mob of angry drivers everywhere. Time to skedaddle.
Now before this point when you’re about to open up the search engine on your mobile, your phone knows things about you: You’re a sports fan, specifically a fan of the Kentucky Wildcats, and you do lots of sports-related browsing on your phone; it knows you’re at the game right now because of geo-positioning; there’s only a short time left in the game plus it’s close to dinner time; it knows you like Italian food; it knows the traffic conditions around Rupp Arena.
The reason your phone knows all that (and I may be stretching the amount of knowledge it has and can apply, but why not?) is so when you open up the screen it can automatically tell you the phone number of the your favorite Italian place so you can call ahead and give you the fastest traffic route to get there. Heck, it may even give you a score alert so you can keep track of it while you go eat (assuming your car radio’s busted).
"In the patent Google discusses how all the data is stored on Google’s servers and queries are sent whenever user is searching for something or typing a message," write the patient and technically savvy folks at Mad4MobilePhones.com. "Presumably the queries would be sent over some kind of mobile AJAX interface. This patent is truly groundbreaking in what the application could do."
Mad4MobilePhones.com has done a much better job explaining the "nonstandard locality-based text entry" than I have, so go visit them and their nifty diagrams.