Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
The Almighty Buck Google Patents Your Rights Online

Google Wants Patent On Splitting Restaurant Bills 196

Posted by timothy
from the steak-eater-picks-the-pocket-of-the-salad-man dept.
theodp writes "In a classic example of parody coming to life," writes GeekWire's Todd Bishop, "a newly published patent filing reveals Google's ambitions to solve one of the most troublesome challenges known to humanity: Splitting the bill at the end of a meal." In its patent application for Tracking and Managing Group Expenditures, Google boasts that the invention of six Googlers addresses 'a need in the art for an efficient way to track group expenditures and settle balances between group members' by providing technology that thwarts 'group members [who] may not pay back their entire share of the bill or may forget and not pay back their share at all.'
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Google Wants Patent On Splitting Restaurant Bills

Comments Filter:
  • by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Sunday October 06, 2013 @06:55AM (#45049813)
    It's probably a part of Google space efforts. I've heard they've funded some research into bistromatics.
    • "Innovation" (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 06, 2013 @07:14AM (#45049899)

      These kind of bullshit patents spring up when a company incentivizes it's employees to generate as much IP as possible during their day to day development, so as to mine the path for any other company trying to reimplement the technology and follow the same (obvious and non-innovative) path.

      I don't know how Google does it, but my company offers a 2000$ monetary bonus for each submission that reaches the filling stage, the vast majority of which are accepted by the patent office. That's right, anything from inventing public key crypto to splitting the bill is patented and squirreled away in the defensive portfolio. The innovatory aspect does not even matter any more, it's all about quantity, they set up all sort of "innovation targets" that entail reaching a certain number of patents. A patent per year is required for any senior wanting to get a good year-end rating.

      This is the most anti-competitive, anti-science and anti-progress way to do R&D that I can imagine.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        We have the same thing here (fortune 100 company); approximately same bonus too.

        The big problem is of course that if we didn't do this our competitors, who all do the same thing, would haul our asses into court on every contract we tried to sign or product we tried to launch (not that they don't already, but it's generally kept at a low level / settled beforehand since both parties know that the other also has hundreds of patents that an unknowledgeable jury or arbiter _might_ find infringing)..

      • Re:"Innovation" (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Bruinwar (1034968) <bruinwar@@@hotmail...com> on Sunday October 06, 2013 @11:04AM (#45050827)

        Exactly the same I.P. policies at my place of employment. We also split that 2K if more than one person works on it. This causes people to hide their ideas (& other's) & develop then in secret. Then file their invention disclosures on the sly. This causes a lot of animosity & accusations of idea theft.
        Very little real innovation has happened in years under this policy. A whole lotta crap though!

      • Re:"Innovation" (Score:4, Interesting)

        by swillden (191260) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Sunday October 06, 2013 @12:55PM (#45051527) Homepage Journal

        This is the most anti-competitive, anti-science and anti-progress way to do R&D that I can imagine.

        That's because it has nothing to do with R&D. Fairly few patents generated by engineers in tech companies even have anything at all to do with their day to day work, and aren't things that they actually build.

        Incentives like the ones you mention (and, yes, Google does the same thing, except IIRC the bonus amounts are higher) do accomplish exactly what they're intended to accomplish: to build up a massive quantity of low-quality patents as inexpensively as possible. This is because the companies incenting this patent mania don't actually intend to use the inventions in any products, or really to use them directly at all. The goal is merely to build up a warchest of patents to increase the odds that if the company is sued for patent infringement that it can find something in its warchest with which to countersue.

        In a nutshell: These patent incentives are about building legal capabilities, not technical capabilities.

        For much of its existence, Google eschewed this patent arms race because it (rightly) viewed it as irrelevant or even harmful to actual progress. But the reality of the system in which we live eventually caught up with Google, and after finding itself at the mercy of other companies who did play the game, Google realized that it also has to play. Google bought Motorola to acquire a pre-packaged patent warchest, and also began incenting its engineers to produce patents.

        Not many Google engineers do, actually, because outside of the bonuses there's little or no internal incentive to do it. Getting a bunch of patents that everyone knows are silly and useless won't get you promoted, or even a raise, and it won't increase your peers' estimation of you (which is why it won't get you promoted; promotions are based almost entirely on peer review). Nor will it lower your peers' opinions of you. It's just irrelevant, except for the extra cash.

        IMO, this is exactly the right response by Google's management. The reality is that Google must have and continue accumulating a patent warchest, because that's how the world works. Google is also lobbying for patent reform, but that's a slow and uncertain prospect. But it's also true that while being able to survive legal battles is critically important to a tech company's survival, a company's success comes from its technology, so it would be a bad idea for Google to build a culture that actually glorifies patents. So, promotions and status are based on impact, but Google engineers who want to can earn a little extra cash by coming up with patentable ideas.

        It's not ideal, but within the context of the litigious world we inhabit it's the best approach.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Google offers a financial bonus to employees who get patents. The program started when Google found itself and its partners on the receiving end of some major patent lawsuits from other big corporations, and Google realized it didn't have much to fight back with. So for Google, it is strictly defensive. Whether it will still be defensive in 10 years or 20 years is up to your best guess. I'm sure many other people started defensively too.

        The patent system is complete and utter horseshit. Don't focus on the c

      • Re:"Innovation" (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Solandri (704621) on Sunday October 06, 2013 @02:32PM (#45052223)
        Out of curiosity, has Google actually ever used a dubious patent to sue someone for patent infringement who didn't sue them first? I'm right there with you in rallying against stupid patents, but the reality is that the USPTO is giving out such stupid patents. If you're trying to run a business, there's little point in taking a principled stance which just makes you pay $millions in the future defending against a patent suit, when you can just pay $10,000 up front and get the patent in your own name.
      • by aurizon (122550)

        I am going to patent a screw-your-buddies software package that divides the bill up among me and my friends in such a way that I pay zero, and they do not know it...;)

        What happens if 7 of a group of 8 people have the software ?, would the one guy paying the whole bill plus tip figure it out?

        Can this be applied to votes? Oh, it already is....

    • by tomhuxley (951364)

      I could never calculate Recipriversexclusons and so had to survive on packaged Ramen in university

      • by rtb61 (674572)

        Simple solution, smart phone app and bluetooth restaurant menu. Each person makes their own order and the service staff directly track and confirm each order to a specific person and deliver the appropriate individual bill, no splitting required.

        • by Pope (17780)

          Why bother? Any modern POS can split bills and/or keep track of multiple cheques per table. It's pretty fucking simple: when the waiter comes over as you first sit, down, ask him or her to keep separate bills for everyone. WTF is so hard about this?

  • Imagine this: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by engun (1234934) on Sunday October 06, 2013 @06:56AM (#45049815)
    Picture in your mind for a moment, that someone actually typed this shit up, had lawyers obfuscate the inanity within and filed this application in the name of em.... "innovation". 'nuff said?
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Yup. Exactly this kind of non-productive non-activity is why America is circling the drain. US was a great cuntry while it lasted.

      • I would hope a moderately intelligent patent judge would toss this crap out.
        • by sjames (1099)

          Too bad it costs a small fortune just to litigate to the point that the judge is in a position to toss this crap out.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Sadly I don't have to imagine. I've been through that process (at Google). Nobody is blind. Everyone knows the entire thing is bullshit. I really feel for the patent lawyers who end up doing this stuff all day.

      These sorts of patents result from pressure from management to generate patents. Simple as that. They argue, of course, that it is for defensive purposes, and there is surely some merit to that. Google is unlikely to get bought or liquidated anytime soon. And whilst current management is in place they

  • Bistromathics (Score:5, Informative)

    by BeerCat (685972) on Sunday October 06, 2013 @06:57AM (#45049817) Homepage

    I think Douglas Adams worked this one out a while back:

    http://hitchhikers.wikia.com/wiki/Bistromathics [wikia.com]

    The third and most mysterious piece of nonabsoluteness of all lies in the relationship between the number of items on the check, the cost of each item, the number of people at the table and what they are each prepared to pay for.

    You'd have thought that Google, of all people, would have checked to see whether there was an app for that already...
    http://lmgtfy.com/?q=restaurant+bill+app [lmgtfy.com]

    • whether there was an app for that already...

      Heck, I had a feature phone a decade ago with that as one of the six utilities.

      But I'm gonna assume they integrated it with Hangout, or tacked 'with location' or 'in the cloud' or some other nonsense onto the existing known methods.

      Used to be I'd read the patent to figure out what kind of sociopathic evasion they engaged in, but that's when I still believed the patent system had some redeeming value.

    • by Ark42 (522144)

      What about restaurants like Denny's (and there are many others around me) that just list every food item under a specific seat number on the paper receipt they bring you for your bill. You can then cash-out by paying either the entire bill or a specific seat number, or even group of seat numbers. It's all pretty straightforward and easy to understand.

    • by mreed911 (794582)
      Yep. Look at http://tabbedout.com/ [tabbedout.com] - that's a whole company dedicated to just this one thing, with their software already in use by several large restaurant chains for embedding the in the restaurant's app...
  • by Anonymous Coward

    This isn't just "splitting the bill". The patentable part of Google's code is how it stores the information on who ordered what, who paid what and who got screwed by ordering water to drink while everyone else ordered from the bar ... and sends all of this info immediately to Law Enforcement agencies.

    If you get pulled over the cops already know how much you've had to drink. If you're questioned by the FBI they already know where you where, when and with who. The NSA, well, they already knew everything beca

    • Re:Fine Print (Score:5, Insightful)

      by BrokenHalo (565198) on Sunday October 06, 2013 @07:38AM (#45050011)

      This isn't just "splitting the bill". The patentable part of Google's code is how it stores the information on who ordered what...

      And the not-so-fine print is that anyone who is that creepy about itemising his/her expenses to that extent at a social gathering will be the individual who will not be invited again. The sociable thing to do (unless one member of the party consumes just half a leaf of lettuce) is to divide the bill by the number of people at the table. Sure, there will be imbalances, but over multiple occasions (in normally reasonable and congenial company) they should pretty much average out.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        You weren't invited again, were you?

        • by plover (150551)

          After a meal, our team had all divided up the money into our own shares, with each of us kicking in for the tip as we felt was appropriate. I always tip at least 15%, and so do most of my friends. One guy on the team said "I'll collect all the cash and put the whole thing on my credit card so I get the 1% cash back reward." We didn't think anything of it, so we let him do it. He stuffed all the cash in his wallet, then wrote out the credit slip. But someone noticed that he tipped 5%.

          There's a guy who w

          • by Agent0013 (828350)
            Most places will add the tip to the bill when there is a group of at least 6 or 8 people. If that was done, then his additional 5% puts the tip at around 20%. If the place did not have the tip added, then that was a jerky thing to do on his part.
      • ++true.

        I have people who try to work out what they ordered to see how much they should pay.

      • Re:Fine Print (Score:5, Interesting)

        by TheRaven64 (641858) on Sunday October 06, 2013 @08:21AM (#45050149) Journal
        Assuming everyone is on roughly the same income level. If not, then some people may order cheaper things (or, for example, skip a starter) because they can't really afford it. If you then make them pay the same amount as everyone else, then they are likely to not join in the next time. If your peer group includes some vegetarian teetotallers then you'll be in a similar situation: without meat or alcohol, their meal cost is likely to consistently be lower than everyone else's and unless they are a lot better off than everyone else they're likely to resent having to subsidise everyone else every time you go out.
      • Sure, there will be imbalances, but over multiple occasions (in normally reasonable and congenial company) they should pretty much average out.

        ROFLMAO

        You've clearly never gone out to lunch with groups of co-workers on a regular basis. There's almost always one douche who orders the most expensive thing on the menu because he knows the check will be split evenly and others will wind up paying most of it. It doesn't average out. Everyone just gets sick of that guy and stops inviting him.

      • Here in Canada you can already split the bill The waiters will allocate according to the person who ordered and anything that is shared can be split between the indicated people at the table. The order system already know how to indicate who ordered what and produce the bill accordingly. I am still not seeing too much novelty in what Google is providing?

        • Canada, just like everywhere else I've been, this depends.

          At least in some restaurants in Vancouver, if you ask before you order, they might be reasonably accommodating. If you ask after the bill came the first time, you'd end up waiting 2 hours for your bill... Go to a high-volume restaurant with a high-end point-of-sale system**, life is much easier...

          Same is true in the USA.

          In most places in Asia, you'd generally get a blank stare.

          In the UK, in some of the better restaurants, you would get a b

      • by gl4ss (559668)

        there's two ways to do it sociably.

        either someone pays it all knowingly buying food for the whole group. or you split it by what people ordered. that's the really social thing to do.

        everyone paying a random sum isn't sociable because it makes sense only if everyone on the table is rich enough to pay the whole bill for everyone without blinking(if someone in the table is gifting the price of their portion for someone on the table that's another issue and not related to this).

        you know, back in finland where I

      • by swillden (191260)

        And the not-so-fine print is that anyone who is that creepy about itemising his/her expenses to that extent at a social gathering will be the individual who will not be invited again.

        OTOH, if the detailed itemization is completely automatic, except for people voluntarily marking the items on the bill that were theirs, there won't be any socially-awkward discussion about it. In just a few seconds everyone pays their proper portion. If someone fails to claim their items on the bill then that may lead to some awkwardness, which will motivate everyone to do the right thing.

        I can see the system working very well.

      • by mattack2 (1165421)

        Sure, there will be imbalances, but over multiple occasions (in normally reasonable and congenial company) they should pretty much average out.

        Not if I never get a drink and everybody else does.

    • I think that lot's of the POS software has stuff like in it and it has been there likely for years

  • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Sunday October 06, 2013 @07:02AM (#45049849)

    In a lot of places in Europe, the waiter/waitress does it for you. Like in Germany, for example.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      but that would require a waitstaff that can do simple arithmetic.... might be commonplace in germany.... but in the u.s....... not so much.

    • They do it for you in America too, at least at every place I've eaten in the last 10 years where we've needed to split the check, as far as I can remember. Saying something like, "We're splitting that appetizer between the three of us, but this one only between those two, we're each covering our own entrées, and then I'm covering the dessert," is almost always met with either a "Could you repeat that again?" or a "No problem, I'll have the checks to you in a minute" response.

      I don't know why people sti

      • I don't know why people still consider this to be "one of the most troublesome challenges known to humanity".

        What amazes me, it that we think that we need a high-tech solution. It's like for every little minor troublesome bother . . . we need an app to solve it.

        It's like we're somehow addicted to technology solutions now for this. It's our big hammer for anything that could be nail. And patents are the score of the game. The biggest company with the most patents, and the best lawyers wins.

      • by PCM2 (4486)

        They do it for you in America too, at least at every place I've eaten in the last 10 years where we've needed to split the check, as far as I can remember. Saying something like, "We're splitting that appetizer between the three of us, but this one only between those two, we're each covering our own entrées, and then I'm covering the dessert," is almost always met with either a "Could you repeat that again?" or a "No problem, I'll have the checks to you in a minute" response.

        Wow. Not only would I feel utterly embarrassed to do that to a waiter, but where I live a lot of restaurants won't do it. It's not uncommon to see signs saying they won't split between more than two or three credit cards, either.

        Maybe it's a factor of my age, too? As in, I'm not fresh out of school and most of the people I go out to eat with are going to be from more or less the same economic class as me, so we all just split the bill, or one person picks it up because they're feeling generous.

        Your method j

        • I'll admit that it could be a factor of economic class, but I'm more inclined to think that it's simply a societal norm that is quickly shifting thanks to better point-of-sale systems that make it a snap for the wait staff to handle. I am aware that there's an expectation that someone will be picking up the bill at a traditional fine dining establishment, just because if you're taking someone to that place, it's generally for a date or for wining and dining a potential client (but if you're taking someone t

          • by PCM2 (4486)

            I'll admit that it could be a factor of economic class, but I'm more inclined to think that it's simply a societal norm that is quickly shifting thanks to better point-of-sale systems that make it a snap for the wait staff to handle.

            The POS might make it easier to itemize people's bills if people hadn't got drunk during the course of the meal and decided to debate and ask questions about everything on their bill only to decide, "Yeah, you're right, my mistake." How many times would you want to go through that a night if you were a waiter?

            Also, the POS doesn't make it any easier for a waiter to have to ring up five separate credit cards for a single table. In addition, splitting the bill among five people means the tip (which is the all

  • Abolish patents (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jodido (1052890) on Sunday October 06, 2013 @07:03AM (#45049853)
    This is a perfect example of why patents should be abolished. Maybe in the 19th century they had some value but that time is long, long past. Now patents are a block to innovation.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    One of my ex-colleagues years ago came up with a fancy excel sheet for this purpose. You fill in the bill items and amounts, taxes and surcharges, fill in the names of the participants, then mark how many shares each person has of each item. People can have more than one share in each item e.g. 2:1:1:1 split. Then fill in how much has already been paid by each person, then you'll see how much is left to be paid by each person, or how much each person has to be paid back. You send the sheet to everyone and p

    • I couldn't be bothered to read the whole application but I did read part. As far as I can tell, it's not online at all. In fact, it appears that the problem it's solving is the one in your third paragraph.

      Ironically, the fact that you identified group payment as a real problem and dismissed out of hand the idea that it could have been solved here actually implies that this could be legally patentable (assuming you are a person of at-least ordinary skill in the art).

      It talks about moving money between the

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Evil I tells ya. Eeeeeeevil!

  • by drkim (1559875) on Sunday October 06, 2013 @07:18AM (#45049913)

    I already use a voice recognition/voice activated app for this. It uses a two word 'trigger' phrase.

    When the waitperson is within range, any party at the table faces them and say the trigger phrase: "separate checks."

    When the meal is done, multiple bills arrive that are delivered to each dining party, with the amounts for each of their food & beverage items listed, tax and total. Each party can calculate a gratuity based on their own opinion of the individual service they received.

    This app also allows for the parties to arrive, and leave, at staggered times.

    This is fairly advanced tech, so don't expect to see it on phone/tablets for a while...

    • That might work in the US, but here in Australia it is more common for eateries to have notices saying "no separate billing", which puts the onus on the customers to work it out for themselves.
      • by pla (258480)
        That might work in the US, but here in Australia it is more common for eateries to have notices saying "no separate billing", which puts the onus on the customers to work it out for themselves.

        Hmm, I can see an 0-day exploit in that protocol - "seven tables for one, please"

        Careful when trying to screw Google out of their due, son. ;)


        More seriously - Seriously? What possible purpose does such a rule serve, except to make things more difficult for everyone (including the server, who gets handed a pil
      • by Bruinwar (1034968)

        Here in the US the server can usually do better with separate billing. Most will round up on the customary 20%. Of course that is only my own observation.

        • by swillden (191260)
          When did the customary 15% become 20%?
    • by khchung (462899)

      I already use a voice recognition/voice activated app for this. It uses a two word 'trigger' phrase.

      When the waitperson is within range, any party at the table faces them and say the trigger phrase: "separate checks."

      When the meal is done, multiple bills arrive that are delivered to each dining party, with the amounts for each of their food & beverage items listed, tax and total. Each party can calculate a gratuity based on their own opinion of the individual service they received.

      This app also allows for the parties to arrive, and leave, at staggered times.

      This is fairly advanced tech, so don't expect to see it on phone/tablets for a while...

      But, but, but... Google is doing it on a computer! THAT got to deserve a new patent in the US.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    http://www.ifc.com/portlandia/videos/portlandia-professional-tipper

  • by Cyfun (667564) on Sunday October 06, 2013 @07:28AM (#45049963) Homepage

    This is in fact how PayPal came to be. These four guys would go out to eat often, and when it came time to pay, one guy would cover the meal, and the other three would reimburse him by whipping out their PDAs and transferring the funds to his bank account. They quickly realized that this concept of quickly and easily transferring money electronically was the wave of the future, formed a company called Confinity, and launched this product called PayPal a year later. Within only a few months, Confinity was bought out by some guy named Elon Musk.

    I just wish Google would buy out PayPal and have it all under one damn roof. Plus, how cool would it be if Google made space ships? :D

    • Plus, how cool would it be if Google made space ships? :D

      Pretty cool, except of course when you fly over China only a subset of the desired data would be transmitted, over the EU you'd only transmit data to the EU; and none of the foregoing would matter because when it passes over the US all the data it collected would be beamed down anyway...

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      I just wish Google would buy out PayPal and have it all under one damn roof.

      Problem is, PayPal is now part of eBay, or is that the other way around? It's not something trivial to snap up.

  • then most patents are the result of individual efforts, rather than some overarching corporate vision. Some guy at Google has an idea, good or bad. Either he thinks it will actually help Google's business, or he thinks having a patent on his resume/job description will help his career, or he just like the feeling of having a patent. So he submits it to Google's patent/IP branch. There the lawyers decide if it's worth patenting. If they reject it, they run the risk of dealing with one unhappy patent submitte

  • A Dutch bank already has this built into their mobile banking application stack. One person foots the bill and the app takes care of splitting things up and billing the individuals that are splitting the bill. It also tracks their payments and helps send out reminders.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Milosch1 (969372)

      A Dutch bank already has this built into their mobile banking application stack. One person foots the bill and the app takes care of splitting things up and billing the individuals that are splitting the bill. It also tracks their payments and helps send out reminders.

      Is that why they call it going Dutch? ;)

  • Yes. I paid for your share. Yes, my cybernetic brain allows me to match this pattern against your past actions to deduce it's your turn to pay. I also sense that you are trying to weasel out of paying. I see it. I recognize the pattern well. But I am a good friend. You are there for me when I rant incessantly about the uselessness of organic life. I will pay your share because we all have our faults, and what you owe in mere currency, you have repaid countless times over with kindness.

  • "An automatic service charge of 18% will be added to groups of 8 or more."
    • by zm (257549)

      "An automatic service charge of 18% will be added to groups of 8 or more."

      Add "With 50% of that being a royalty for the patent", and this story gets done-done in the next sprint..

  • From what I get from the summery (Can't be bot herd to RTFA) this is about people who are not paying their part in the bill. We all know that person and if you don't, you are that person. Knowing how much he ows does not mean he will pay.

    However those people are unwilling to pay the bill. I once went out with a group and he ordered a more expensive drink then the rest of us, except when he ordered the drink. Then he suddenly did not want anything.

    So one time when we knew he did not have money on him (also h

  • by FuzzNugget (2840687) on Sunday October 06, 2013 @10:36AM (#45050695)
    Math
  • Didn't last very long.
  • by 0xdeadbeef (28836) on Sunday October 06, 2013 @11:11AM (#45050853) Homepage Journal

    The actual problem are the passive-aggressive douchebags who make it a contest to see who gets to pay for everyone's meal, and later whine about how some people never pay for everyone's meal, so that they can be both the altruistic Christian hero and the exploited supply-sider hero.

  • What is a better way to show that the patent system is broken, and that software patents are really stupid but by pushing a bunch of really obvious stupid ones thru?

    It probably costs less then they are paying for litigation with current software patent wars, and if they can show the system is broken and flawed, and that software patents are bogus, wouldn't it make things easier for them?

     

  • So I'm supposed to believe that Google is trying to patent basic math? Seriously, what's next?
    • by Greyfox (87712)
      Fractions! Yes! They're patenting fractions! I want to patent the process by which you arrive at a legitimate sounding patent for patenting fractions! Now if they include a method of dealing with the jackass who takes all the cash, puts it on his credit card and leaves a 3% tip, we might be on to something. Oh wait, we already have a method for that, too, don't invite that fucker out to lunch anymore! I'm Google will be including a patented method of identifying that guy and excluding him from Google Calend
  • by milkmage (795746) on Sunday October 06, 2013 @12:08PM (#45051181)

    this isn't about splitting a single dinner bill as the headline (Google Wants Patent On Splitting Restaurant Bills) suggests.

    it's a little more complicated.. where, say, 5 people hang out together for a week, where multiple bills are paid individually by different people over the duration of the vacation or whatever and you need to "settle up" when you get home.

    Yes, no matter how you slice it, it's just math (so whether or not you should be able to patent it is arguable) - but, if the patent is for the means by which it's tracked, and the design of the (i assume) app that you use to solve the equation, then a patent may have some merit.

    You can solve this using Excel, but a dedicated app to to track the scenario mentioned in the original piece could be very useful to some.

    "As an example, assume that a group is created to track and manage the expenditures of four friends (Friends 1-4) while on vacation in Miami. While on vacation, one of the days only three of the friends (Friends 1-3) go eat lunch at a restaurant because Friend 4 is not hungry at the time. The bill for lunch is $60 and Friend 1 pays the bill using a mobile payment service available on his device 104. Friend 1 adds the lunch as an expenditure of the group. When the form is presented to Friend 1 for the lunch, Friend 1 indicates that the lunch should be allocated to Friends 1-3. The lunch is not allocated to Friend 4 because Friend 4 did not participate in the lunch. Further, Friend 1 provides the following amounts of allocation in the form: Friend 1 $25, Friend 2 $16, and Friend 3 $19. In this example, the amount of allocation for each friend is based on what each friend ordered during lunch."

    could be further "complicated" if your group of friends has vegetarians (where entrees are usually less than those with meat), and people who don't drink - so the cost of that bottle of wine should be split between the 4 of 6 in your party who actually had some. if someone brought their kids, that introduces yet another variable.

    it'd be pretty cool to be able to take a picture of the itemized receipt and assign each line item to a person (drinks and entree), or the group (shared desserts, appetizers) - whatever is appropriate.

    Banks are getting in to person to person transfers (using nothing but a mobile number or email address).. https://clearxchange.com/ [clearxchange.com]
    the natural evolution of paying each other is to be able to request money FROM each other.. so i can use my credit card to pay for lunch, then send a note telling my friends they owe me $.

    google couple potentially integrate with clearxchange, and card.io (take picture of CC instead of entering the number manually) to settle up once the costs are calculated.

    this isn't a patent for a system to do math (addition, subtraction and division). this is a patent on a system that makes it so you don't have to think about the math.

    • The system described is identical to the one we used to use in our shared house to settle bills. We even did it on a computer, so they don't get to use the "but it's on a computer so it's complete different!" defence.
    • It's a little more complicated.. where, say, 5 people hang out together for a week, where multiple bills are paid individually by different people over the duration of the vacation or whatever and you need to "settle up" when you get home.

      It's a balance sheet, but on a computer!Good job no one [ibm.com] has thought of doing that before.

  • Growing up amongst my friends (and in general) we had a rule that he who picked up the bill and looked at it (at least without discussing it first with the other people at the table) was on the hook for the whole thing. It was more or less a courtesy. If I went with someone who was older than me (ie. my grandma) and she brought me out to lunch it would be very rude of me to look at the bill that I'm not going to pay.

    So if Google wants to get in the middle of my restaurant bill payment, well...

  • Often at business meetings we would go out to dinner. Usually when the bill came we would have everyone chip in including tip the amount of money they felt they owed. Some folks had drinks, wine with dinner, and desert. Others may have had only a salad. It was a good judge of character to see who was honest about it. Since this is Slashdot I should mention that we were scientists and engineers so we could do the math. Most the time we would end up with a few extra dollars which would just go for a bi

    • Since this is Slashdot I should mention that we were scientists and engineers so we could do the math.

      Clearly you've never been out with drunk scientists and engineers. At that point proving they can do the math (they can't because they're drunk and want to prove they can because they're drunk) is more important and the actual bill is a secondary concern. This leads to very loud and heated arguments. Of course no app could solve it because the primary concern is proving you can do it in your head.

  • One day, we got to talking about how it might be unfair if you tended to end up having it be your turn to buy the meal when you were someplace cheap, and issues like different numbers of people being present, and eventually concluded that all solutions to these problems consisted of reinventing money.

    So we came up with the real solution: Fuck it, it's not worth the time to worry about it. We roughly take turns and no one cares.

  • Prior art? I can show it to them if they driver over from their nearest datacenter.

    What a load. Serve included this as as base feature.

try again

Working...