Gwyn Headley

by Gwyn Headley

Managing Director

The US Patent Office has just granted a patent to Ryan Hickman of Mountain View, California (read Google) for identifying features in an online view of a real property and then replacing those features.

So if you see a poster or a billboard in Google Street View, it may not actually be there — it may have been replaced by a competitor’s advertisement. When you’re on the street, you see a big Pepsi ad, but online it’s magically transformed into a Coke ad.

I can see this would be great for cinemas and theatres, being able to update the features they’re showing, but otherwise this smacks a little of Big Brother to me. It will benefit large corporations. They will elbow out smaller businesses, like Waitrose and Tesco opening up next to the perfectly good Budgens in Crouch End.

I can’t help supporting the underdog. I am one.

Here’s the text of the granted patent. Read it and work out the implications, the ramifications, the possibilities. Rub your hands if you are in corporate life and get prepared to give yet more money to Google.

It’s damned clever, though.

Claiming Real Estate in Panoramic or 3D Mapping Environments for Advertising (granted January 7, 2010)


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.


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