The research and development team at Google doesn’t alway focus upon search algorithms. Sometimes their efforts seem more suited to Indiana Jones than Luke Skywalker. In the past year we’ve seen Google map the Grand Canyon using pack donkeys and a team exploring the depths of the Canyon. Google has been mapping the underwater surfaces of oceans with Streetviews as well. The Amazon Rainforest has also been the target of Google’s excursions.
Google has used specialized Streetviews cars to film a wide range of roads around the globe. They’ve used tricycles to film areas where cars can’t go, and they have a page (Cars, Trikes, and More) that shows other ways the search engine captures images, including trolleys, snowmobiles, and cameras sticking up out of backpacks.
So I was a little suprised to see that Google targeted walking sticks with a patent granted to the search engine this week. Then again, the patent tells us:
However, even the use of vehicles such as tricycles or snowmobiles does not offer access to areas where vehicular travel is difficult, such as in rugged areas or areas where roads are not present.
The walking stick in question has one or more cameras at one end, and a “trigger” at the other end, which sets the camera or cameras off when you contact the ground. But it also has more than that. The stick includes an Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU), a collection of microelectronics that can include gyroscopes, accelerometers, and magnetometers to help identify its location. It likely also uses a GPS sensor, and possibly other sensors as well. That might remind you of my last post here, How Google Now and Phone Sensors Might Change Search as We Know It, in which I wrote about how Google might start taking advantage of a lot of sensor data in mobile devices, and aggregate that data to predict future events.
The IMU sensors can be used when you are indoors and/or GPS isn’t available, and can help improve the accuracy of GPS information when you are outdoors.
Here’s the patent:
Walking stick with IMU
Invented by Daniel Jason Ratner and Russell Leigh Smith
Assigned to Google
United States Patent 8,467,674
Granted June 18, 2013
Filed: September 21, 2011
An elongated member is provided with one or more imaging sensors, location sensors, and a switch in its bottom end. For example, in an embodiment the elongated member may be a walking stick and the one or more imaging sensors may be one or more cameras Such a walking stick takes pictures of its surrounding environment and keeps records of its location when the switch touches the ground, so that the pictures and location information can be used to create a virtual simulation of the area that a user of the walking stick has walked through.
The images from the patent show a traditional looking camera at the top of the stick, but the patent mentions that other types of imaging sensors could be used as well.
The patent concludes by telling us that while this walking stick device could supply a stream of photos, those could be stitched together virtually to create a video as well.
Such a method of operation is advantageous in that it provides a stable base for the one or more cameras by causing the walking stick to act as a monopod. Moreover, because users will generally have fairly regular strides, pictures of the surroundings of the area surrounding the walking stick will be taken at regular intervals.
This provides for acquiring data which is appropriate for a virtual simulation the environment of the walking stick, because the image data can be transformed and combined to yield an interactive simulation of the environment of the walking stick.
Furthermore, time stamps and location information from a GPS or IMU can improve the quality of the virtual environment data still further, by aiding virtual environment application 240 in combining the pieces of image data into a virtual environment visualization.
When I saw the title to this patent, I was actually taken a little aback with the low tech nature of the invention. But when we start thinking about all of the ways that Google may gather information in the world around us, from Streetview cars, trykes, snowmobiles, backpack cameras, boats, submarines, self-driving cars, Google Glass, and more, it’s probably not surprising to see them cover another method that might seem to be much more low key.
Just as Googlebot crawls the World Wide Web, Google is finding new ways to capture and collect information from the world around us.
Given that people from Google engage in activities such as Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, maybe it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that Google patented a walking stick. Especially one with sensors in it.
As the foundation of any SEO-focused marketing campaign, keywords are always the driving force for any industry. More often than not, business owners take an approach to their keyword selection that emphasizes quantity over quality. While generalized keywords do have the potential to bring in a large, broad user demographic, sometimes a far more specific search term can yield better results for company websites and online content. The trick comes from knowing how to select the right keyword for the most successful search engine optimization.
Keep It Local with Geographic Keywords
In any industry, it’s important that a business plays to its strengths. While larger companies enjoy a level of brand recognition that they can rely on for constant traffic and online sales, many smaller businesses struggle to find ways to stay relevant to their potential customer base. One of the more ingenuous ways that SMB owners manage to do this is through the strategic use of local keywords. Keyword phrases that focus on geographic proximity lend themselves to a style of search engine optimization that improves organic traffic while focusing on clientele that is within driving distance of a business location.
Many readers have no doubt used geographically- focused keywords in the past to find nearby services. Imagine, for example, that a family needs mold remediation services for a home in Miami. While simply searching for “mold remediation” will show results for home services in different states, looking for “mold remediation Miami Florida” will show proximal results. Users commonly include the town where they live in their searches anyway, so a smart business owner should try to focus on keyword phrases that account for local users if they have only a few locations.
Long Tail Keywords Have a Proven Conversion Rate
Similar to geographically-focused keywords are long tail keywords. These terms often include more specific terms which can narrow down the focus of a search considerably. For example, to return to our earlier search phrase, a long tail version of “mold remediation” would be “mold remediation business and apartment complexes.” While less users will turn to long tail keywords than broader ones, those who do often show a better conversion rate by actually purchasing goods or services from a website.
Of course, it is always a good idea to experiment with the keywords one chooses in his or her SEO campaign. Just like any trending news topic, certain keywords can change in frequency of use over time. If any readers would like further advice on the subject, I can be reached at email@example.com.
Google announced that their local search service “Google Places”, will now allow the local business to submit their data including business hours, address, name, and more directly. This more streamlined process places more trust in the business. Google stated “the organic listing will automatically be updated and the business owner will be sent an email notification about the change”. The official announcement occurred last week on October 13th, titled “Faster updates to Local Business Listings”.
In addition, the search engine firm has tweaked their local search crawlers to look for the above business data (hours, address, etc.) and to provide greater accuracy. Google will make an automatic update if their crawler reports back with credible data. This move helps to ensure the most updated data is available for local businesses. For example, if the company sends out a news release announcing new operating hours, Google’s crawlers will catch this and automatically update the business page.
Local search has emerged dramatically in recent years. It is said that 1 in 2 Americans have a smartphone by the end of 2011. In fact, more Americans will have a smartphone then a 4-year college degree. Since so many consumers own one, more and more consumers are searching for “local businesses” on their devices. WebiMax, the leader in search engine optimization, offers local search services and is rated the top Local SEO firm in the United States.
Google Maps added a few new features this week, including “Helicopter” view. The new view provides a fly-over view of the route the user specifies between two destinations. This new 3D view is available to users that have the Google Earth plug-in installed on their computer. This not only adds enhanced video and viewing capabilities, but provides a “practice run” for drivers that are unfamiliar with how to get to specific destinations, and are unfamiliar with the area.
Google Maps also added “My Location”, a new feature that pinpoints the exact location and can make it the starting or ending point of a destination. Defending against privacy concerns, Google stated that they do not store location information in their maps for others to see. (Recall some months ago when privacy concerns were in uproar over the Apple iPhone reportedly storing locations).
This has also been optimized for local search. With local search and SEO, businesses can be pinpointed on Google Maps. Local search dramatically influences the company’s online visibility in a geographically defined radius. Now, users can pinpoint where your business is located and take a 3D flight path to the destination.
Google Maps has another layer of data, now featuring weather provided by Weather.com. This added feature is great especially for mobile users who are looking up locations on their smartphone, they will be able to see the weather and make a traveling decision. Google announced this last week on their official blog. In addition to the icons, clicking on the icon will show a 5-day forecast.
Aside from the new weather reporting, local search and local seo services are still needed, however, to ensure your business is represented on the map. Say you’re planning a trip to Washington, D.C., and want to check out the local restaurants. Now you’ll be able to see which restaurant looks enticing, and, oh, what the weather will be that day.
Local Search Visibility is a service that has emerged in recent years as Google has made a strong push to introduce (and enhance) local search. This service works well for companies that want to focus in a geographically defined area.
For example, small businesses, media and legal services, (and much more) that wants to focus in a 30-60 mile maximum radius in and around their central hub, benefit greatly from this service.
Are you a legal practice and want to enhance your client-base? Don’t have the resources or the personnel to handle accounts and support operations nationally? Consider local search visibility services.
Or, for example, say you’re a local restaurant and pub in and around Philadelphia, PA. When people search “restaurant and pub, Philadelphia”, you want your business to populate first, and not only provide detailed information; you want your businesses graphically represented on Google Maps. The easier it is for customers to find your business, the easier it is to expand revenue.
p>Our staff is trained and well-proficient with the use of Google Boost, perhaps one of the most advanced local search platforms.
At WebiMax, we’ve held the #1 ranking on TopSeos.com as the nation’s top SEO firm for a reason. We have the technical know-how and resources to support our initiative. We’ll put your business on the map.