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Amazon Seeks 1-Nod Ordering Patent 194

Posted by timothy
from the sold-to-the-gentleman-with-the-slight-facial-tic dept.
theodp writes "Amazon.com is famous for its patented 1-Click ordering system. But what about 1-Nod ordering? Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is seeking a patent on a system that would let people make purchases with a nod, a smile, or even a raise of the eyebrow. Bezos' invention — 'Movement Recognition as Input Mechanism' — envisions a computing device that could interpret certain facial expressions and enhance or potentially replace conventional input devices such as keypads and touch screens."
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Amazon Seeks 1-Nod Ordering Patent

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  • by cjonslashdot (904508) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @08:12AM (#32468012)
    I thought that simply automating a non-automated process is not sufficient to obtain a patent. At many auctions one can bid simply with a nod.
    • by dsginter (104154) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @08:23AM (#32468054)

      The patent office will rubber-stamp anything obvious if it is done on a computer. The one-click patent is a wonderful example: for decades, bartenders have been taking a patron's credit card and setting it aside. This allows the patron to simply "run a tab" and order a beer with just one click of the finger. This can't be patented because it is obvious to everyone.

      But, if you do it on a computer, you can patent it for some reason. The mind boggles.

      • by qubezz (520511) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @08:58AM (#32468214)

        The beauty here: this is patenting the problem and not the solution.

        Where are the code snippets, the algorithms to detect the motions, the heuristics to reject false positives in this patent application? [uspto.gov]

        It would have been so much easier for Edison if he could patent the idea 'glass bulb that produces light when electricity flows through it', instead of actually showing that he could do it.

        The USPTO seems to think that this is fine these days though - patenting an idea instead of an invention.

        • by cjonslashdot (904508) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @09:20AM (#32468282)
          I wonder if it would be possible to mount a class action lawsuit against the Patent Office, listing a volume of inappropriate software patents, and challenging them all based on the same allegation of incorrect application of patent case law. The plaintiffs could be the industry of software authors who are prevented from using the "methods" in these specious patents.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            Please do that.

            But you'll have to come up with a metric for "innovation", because the number of patents registered is what governments use today ... We know sucks, but come up with a better one.

            • by sjames (1099)

              If only that was the worst part. We can't even get the USPTO to look at nearly ubiquitous prior art, much less get it to actually require non-obviousness.

              The one click patent is a perfect example. They managed to allow a patent on a process that had been in use in country stores for well over a century just because it was to be done with a computer rather than with index cards in a box behind the counter. I have to wonder what rock the examiner lives under that he wouldn't have been aware of that.

          • by fishexe (168879)
            Yes!
            But the plaintiff class should be all the computer users in the world who are prevented from having useful software.
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by Known Nutter (988758)
            You could, expect I just got patent for "method of mounting a class action lawsuit against the Patent Office"
        • by westlake (615356)
          It would have been so much easier for Edison if he could patent the idea 'glass bulb that produces light when electricity flows through it', instead of actually showing that he could do it.

          The patent office hasn't required a physical model - a "working model" - since 1880. The sole remaining exception is the perpetual motion machine.

    • by Yvanhoe (564877)
      I am not a software patent or even patent advocate (they are all evil and stifle innovation) but...

      I thought that simply automating a non-automated process is not sufficient to obtain a patent.

      You are talking about robotics here. Of course that automating a manual process deserves a patent. That doesn't make it automatically innovating but replacing a human task by an automatic process is often a non trivial process.

      • Exactly. It is non-trivial to implement such automation. And therefore the mere idea should not be sufficient for a patent. The Patent Office is allowing companies to patent these "mere ideas".
    • by nurb432 (527695)

      True, but when was the last time the PO did their job?

    • I thought that simply automating a non-automated process is not sufficient to obtain a patent.

      So if I develop an automated brain surgeon, that should not be eligible for patent protection?

  • Sounds overbearing, but how many people (myself included) have thought "Damn, wish I had patented that 10-15 years before it hit the market"?
  • by PerformanceDude (1798324) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @08:12AM (#32468020)
    1-frown refund?

    I'd like to see that... Now where is that patent application form?

    • What we need is a 1-frown patent denial system.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by sycodon (149926)

      I suspect there will probably be a 1 hard on ordering system for porn.

    • by mike260 (224212) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @09:35AM (#32468352)

      Parent post made me LOL but unfortunately an ad saw this, misinterpreted it, and I now own an IBM z10 mainframe.

      I'd cry but I'm afraid that Amazon would notice.

      • by hedwards (940851)
        If I had mod point I'd mod you insightful. My first thought was that this could very easily cause people to order things that they didn't intend to order. Case in point, I was buying a book the other day and clicked the one click sale button, no pop up or any indication that I had just ordered something. Fortunately, I did indeed mean to buy it, but it's inherently bad design when you've got a one click transaction and it doesn't even give feed back that it's been pressed.
    • by nurb432 (527695)

      I'm sure the dude at demotivationals has that already. Now, don't you feel depressed? Go buy a T-shirt.

    • by RevWaldo (1186281)
      Facebook is looking to patent its 1-nod 'opt-in' system. Although they do have a version that relies on blinking.

      .
  • by BiggerIsBetter (682164) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @08:16AM (#32468024)

    He wants a patent on a centuries old auction bid technique? But on a computer? Whateva... besides, there must be plenty of published techniques for more generic movement-as-input already - it's been a popular research topic.

    • by cybereal (621599)

      He wants a patent on a centuries old auction bid technique? But on a computer?

      This comment is exemplary of a common misconception in patents. They are not covering the results! They are covering the mechanism and methodology. The "machine" if you will. The patent would cover a specific method for interpreting/receiving/whatever the gesture and passing it along to the service so it would do the expected thing. There could be a thousand ways to do this, and thus, a thousand different patents that all accomplished the same thing, and that's okay. Reality is, there are usually only

      • This comment is exemplary of a common misconception in patents. They are not covering the results! They are covering the mechanism and methodology.

        All well and good, but it's still pretty fricken obvious to those skilled in the art. Most of us would just think it's a bad idea right now until computer vision catches up to make it reliable.

        • by Rockoon (1252108)

          All well and good, but it's still pretty fricken obvious to those skilled in the art.

          If its so obvious.. then why this:

          Most of us would just think it's a bad idea right now until computer vision catches up to make it reliable.

          He explained to you what patents entail, and then you go on and confuse patents with results, again.

          • He explained to you what patents entail, and then you go on and confuse patents with results, again.

            There is no confusion. My point is that it's a fricken obvious process just waiting for technology to catch up to make it a non-stupid process to implement (I could look at trends and go and patent some clever ways of flying to Mars, but until the scientists and engineers figure out how actually to do it...). What he needs is other people to do the hard work for him so he can leverage off their research. Call it good business if you like, but it still looks like patent trolling to me.

            • by Rockoon (1252108)
              You still are confusing results with method.

              I am entirely amazed that you can't tell the difference.

              A real-world hands-on example is Apples Pinch-Zoom.

              They have not patented zooming. They have not patented zooming with a touch interface. They have patented zooming by using a pinch gesture detected with a specific methodology.
      • The problem here is that the patent *doesn't* describe the methods. I've read through most of it, and in large part it seems to consist of things like

        E]In embodiments utilizing a Web server, the Web server can run any of a variety of server or mid-tier applications, including HTTP servers, FTP servers, CGI servers, data servers, Java servers, and business application servers. The server(s) also may be capable of executing programs or scripts in response requests from user devices, such as by executing one or more Web applications that may be implemented as one or more scripts or programs written in any programming language, such as Java.RTM., C, C# or C++, or any scripting language, such as Perl, Python, or TCL, as well as combinations thereof. The server(s) may also include database servers, including without limitation those commercially available from Oracle.RTM., Microsoft.RTM., Sybase.RTM., and IBM.RTM..

        As you can see, there is no methodology described -- only a high-level description of software that *could* be used to facilitate the process. This patent contains no algorithms; only descriptions of component parts.

        (Unfortunately I can't look at the images to see what they contain, as I refuse to install quicktime -- I don't want to deal with resetting

      • by hedwards (940851)
        But software patents don't. Since Amazon doesn't have to disclose the methodology and code there's in effect just a patenting of the results. The patent on barbed wire was assigned to the inventor that gave the patent office the most detailed information about the innovation. Free energy machines are regularly debunked by the USPTO when they're built from the supplied plans and fail to work.
    • by mwvdlee (775178)

      I'm going to patent the "raise hand to bid" auction system... but on a computer!

      • by hedwards (940851)
        Too bad you're going to have to pay me a fee for my patented being in the same room as the computer you're directly interacting with patent.
    • Suggested prior art (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      In patents, it's just the claims that count (that's what the monopoly is on).

      For most of the claims, the "Mind Reading Machines" display at the Royal Society Summer Exhibition 2006, and associated papers from University of Cambridge, seems like prior art. It analysed facial expressions to infer affective state, charting estimates (on the user interface) of how likely it was that the user was expressing interest, confusion, etc. (So, lots of changing the UI based on analysing video images and motion of par

    • by sjames (1099)

      Even worse, the process can so obviously go wrong it's become a sitcom trope. I can well imagine that a computerized system could bring that trope to life. Have one seizure and suddenly half of Amazon's inventory is being shipped to your house.

  • Motion recognition is not new. The claimed "invention" here is purely the business use to which the recognised motion is put.

    This is like if I invent the pen, and you then patent using a pen to sign a contract, or draw a doodle. Holy shit, you're a frikkin' genius!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 05, 2010 @08:18AM (#32468036)

    I want to buy when I touch my balls.

    And if I have an erection I want to buy with fastest shipping method.

    • by Skapare (16644)

      Nice! You just exposed the longest existing prior art in history ... based on how services are acquired in the oldest profession.

      • "Longest existing prior art" and "erection" in parent and grand parent. No doubt, this a discussion on /. about patents.

        I wonder though, Skapare, how well do you know AC that you can assert he is indeed the longest?
  • by ciaran_o_riordan (662132) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @08:23AM (#32468052) Homepage

    If this gets granted, the 1-click example shows that even if it's invalid, the review process is sometimes completely useful because takes so many years and often just results in narrowing the patent.

    • the review process is sometimes completely useful

      Carp. That should read "useless". My subconscious is just so positive.

      • the review process is sometimes completely useful

        Carp. That should read "useless". My subconscious is just so positive.

        s/Carp/Crap/

  • by FoboldFKY (785255) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @08:29AM (#32468084)

    To quote Douglas Adams from one of the HHGTTG books (forget which one; it's the one involving the Krikkit):

    "Let us bow our heads in payment."

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Derek Pomery (2028)

      Slartibartfast floated past, waving.

      ``It's just a documentary,'' he called out. ``This is not a good bit. Terribly sorry, trying to find the rewind control ...''

      ``... is what billions of billions of innocent ...''

      ``Do not,'' called out Slartibartfast floating past again, and fiddling furiously with the thing that he had stuck into the wall of the Room of Informational Illusions and which was in fact still stuck there, ``agree to buy anything at this point.'' ... [SNIP SNIP SNIP] ...

      Slartibartfast floated pa

  • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @08:33AM (#32468102)

    . . . was bothering me the other night "with a nod, a smile or even a raise of the eyebrow." And his inquiries if my wife was interested in "candid photography."

    Was he infringing on Amazon's patent?"

  • apparently, you should no longer shop while browsing p40n!
  • United States Patent Application 20100125816 MOVEMENT RECOGNITION AS INPUT MECHANISM [uspto.gov]

    From the claims, it looks like it is limited to a portable computing device:

    1. A method of interacting with a graphical user interface on a portable computing device, comprising:obtaining a first image using an imaging element of the portable computing device, the first image including a facial feature of a user of the portable computing device;obtaining a second image using the imaging element, the second image including

    • Ah, I now see that later claims (e.g., 18 and 31) use "a computing device" so it's not limited to a portable computing device.
    • by Arker (91948)
      What's clear is that they have no invention here, they are simply staking out a prospective monopoly so that in case someone actually does build such a device in the future, Amazon will own it. This is what our patent system has become.
    • From an obviousness standpoint, that's not really interesting. A laptop is portable, for instance.

      The "wherein" clause at the end is pretty amusing, though, and it actually makes it harder to reject the claim using, for example, a security surveillance system.

      It should also be noted that the claims don't really have any specifics about e-commerce. They're claiming a scope that more generally encompasses any facial-feature-based input device.

  • WWSWHD? (Score:5, Funny)

    by thijsh (910751) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @08:50AM (#32468174) Journal

    ... make purchases with a nod, a smile or even a raise of the eyebrow ...

    I want to bet this system will be so sensitive it will lead to a lot of 'purchases', which will be defended in court with reasoning along the lines of: "our patented method can even detect the body language of subconscious wants and needs with over 99% accuracy, which is a higher success rate than our patented 'one click buy' button which has a slightly higher error rate because of accidental clicks."

    >>> FAST FORWARD >>>

    Year 2042 history books describing the rise of the Amazon mega-conglomerate identify this patent as the most important one in Amazon's history:

    This of course would lead to the infamous landmark lawsuit of Amazon VS Stephen Hawking who had an Amazon pop-up on his wheelchair-computer and accidentally ordered everything on Amazon.com by staring blankly at the screen...
    The argument of SWH's lawyers that he could not possibly operate a Segway for lack of motor control and thus had no use for it - and did not want to order it - was refuted by the Amazon legal team because, according to them, "the lack of motor control gave him the strong subconscious urge to walk an do all the things a walking man can do, and thus order a Segway".

    After losing this exhausting case Stephen commented: "One cannot really argue with a mathematical theorem, but it is clear that intelligence has no long-term survival value.".

    This legal tactic that set a precedent causing a new advertising phenomenon called 'drive by shopping'. Every pop-up ad from Amazon now has a mandatory purchase when you look at it, because they can prove 'without a doubt' you *want* to purchase the items they sell using their unique patented method...

    • I want to bet this system will be so sensitive it will lead to a lot of 'purchases',

      Bender, in Sotheby's: "Bite my shiny metal ass!"

      Sotheby's auctioneer: "Sold."

      Bender: "The guy sitting next to me will pay."

      Fry: "Huh? What?"

    • by Reziac (43301) *

      Drive-by (or should that be drive-buy) shopping:

      Amazon's crack team of shopping specialists cruise the streets, taking orders from every gesture or grimace performed in every front yard and every living room in America. For added convenience, a shopping drone will penetrate those pesky closed-up rooms, ensuring that no shopper's fantasy goes unfilled!

  • by netux (806209) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @08:53AM (#32468188)
    • Look at the dates:

      Bezos filed on December 10, 2008 and the page you cited was dated April 1, 2009.

      • by thijsh (910751)
        You quoted the date but still missed the joke... you just lost 1 geek point my good sir!
  • What's the point? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Zouden (232738) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @08:54AM (#32468196)

    Seriously, what's the point of this? Ordering things online is already easy. Does Bezos really think there's a whole untapped market out there of people who would like to buy something but find clicking links too exhausting? I wonder how those customers managed to navigate his website in the first place.

  • by saider (177166) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @08:59AM (#32468218)

    We see by your expression that you really like this Swedish made penis enlarger. One has been ordered in your name. Additionally, we have posted a "like" on your Facebook page as well as posting a Twitpic on your twitter account. Please smile again if you would like to cancel this operation.

  • by Laxori666 (748529) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @09:09AM (#32468240) Homepage
    You are sipping a delicious coffee, sitting outside your favorite cafe. "Man," you say to yourself, "who would buy a set of bleachers [amazon.com] on Amazon? $10,000! Hah!"

    Presently, your friend Bob comes walking down the street. "Hey Bob!" you say, waving and nodding. Your browser starts loading a new page. "Purchase confirmed." DOH!!
  • Didn't Rob and Laura Petrie get suckered by this during an auction 45 years ago?

  • for porn sites. They'd know we weren't just passing through.

  • by orthicviper (1800010) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @10:14AM (#32468496)
    i always wondered why amazon didn't patent a 2-click and 3-click ordering system to really stick it to barnes and noble
  • I'm going to patent making obvious claims in patents. And then I am never going to license it.

    "Oh, let's patent auction signals with a computer, because, it's a COMPUTER"

    It's a good thing Jeff wasn't in charge of building the first computers. We'd still be supplicating to the high priests of ENIAC to please run our computations, pretty please, and we'll get you coffee.

    Maybe someone should patent "Impacting the face of Jeff Bezos with a rectilinear lump of fired red clay" and implement it.

    --
    BMO

  • Amazon: Here's a few suggestions based on your previous choices.
    Customer: Huh? What's that? (click)
    Amazon: A huge horse dildo because you ordered a My Little Pony Video
    Customer (eyes go wide) what the ...
    Amazon: Thank you for your order.

  • Wasn't there something like this in one of the Hitchhikers' Guide books?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    In other news... Michael J. Fox has declared bankruptcy.

  • by unity100 (970058) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @11:31AM (#32468844) Homepage Journal
    there should be ... for this patent thing is really going towards that way.
  • in the early days of speech recognition, I saw a demo where a sneeze was taken as a valid input word (the name of a train station). Is their implementation intelligent enough to see the difference between a nod and a hiccup?
  • For years websites had been operated by means of pressing buttons and clicking mice; then as the technology became more sophisticated the controls were made touch-sensitive - you merely had to brush the panels with your fingers; now all you have to do is nod your head in the general direction of the computer and hope. It saves a lot of muscular expenditure of course, but means that you have to sit infuriatingly still if you want to keep reading the same website.

    With apologies to Douglas Adams
  • I think this is a great idea. I don't see any down
    • Argh, sorry, I blinked my eye and my computer interpreted that as a Submit request. Anyway, I don't see any downsides to this. Sure, it might sometimes trigger acci
  • ...and open-license it so we can make sure that we can still freely submit a purchase order by farting and burping without receiving a C&D letter.

  • FTS:

    Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is seeking attention

    FTFY.

  • 0-click-shopping: Buy something *unless* you press a button :)

  • I already steer clear of the "1 click" option on Amazon. Not only is it something that never should have been patentable, but it's not even a "service" i want to use. If i don't want something enough to go through the usual purchasing process it's really not worth it. I don't need Amazon encouraging me to spend on a whim.

    "1-nod" is an even worse idea. People might end up buying something just because of a "smile or even a raise of the eyebrow"? If Amazon actually managed to convince a lot of people to sig
  • Spock: (Raising eyebrow) "Fascinating Captain -- Oh, darn!"

  • It's great to see the people behind this patent push and the original creator/s of the idea are making such a positive, wide-reaching impact on the world with exciting, unique and creative flashes of genius such as the One Nod Purchase (tm)(tm). The world would indeed be a poorer, empty, purposeless wasteland without their insights (and insights like them).

    I wish them all the best. No really.

    THANKYOU AMAZON SMILEY/NODDY/HAPPY TEAM. (Much hugs - your no. 1 fan.)

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