back to article 'In... 15 feet... you will be HIT BY A TRAIN' Google patents the SPLAT-NAV

Looking up from your smartphone to avoid being splattered by a taxi – Google now owns the patent on that. The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has rubber-stamped a filing that described using location tracking, ambient noise detection, and public record information to warn users when they could be in danger. According …

  1. petur

    Or the other way around

    So there I am, walking and minding the traffic, when suddenly my phone starts vibrating. I look at it to see what it wants to tell me, read about the danger and... oops, shouldn't have been looking at my phone while walking.

    1. dan1980

      Re: Or the other way around

      Valid concern but I suspect the accelerometers would be able to provide enough information to allow the phone to know when you are both holding it and it is sitting at an angle that likely correspond to someone looking at it.

      But yeah, that'd be something the would need to sort out.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Public domain.

    This should be in public domain, without patent. What is next, someone is going to patent how to let me know my smoke detector needs a new battery?

    The USPTO is now completely a corporate entity, and needs to be disassembled to be reassemble in the interest of the people, not company (I know that statement presents a clash, but how many people make out good on patents today? 2%?).

    1. Hargrove

      Re: Public domain.

      Spot on. In the past several years I have seen patents whose claims include the basics of radar (as the Brits invented it in the late 1930's), Kirchoff's law (as articulated in 1845), and a patent for a scalable device to extract unlimited power from any point in the universe.

      When I was silly enough to point this out to the patent office I was informed that US legislation provides that issuance of a patent is de facto proof of practicability and novelty. So there.

      Every comparison I could come up with to characterize the US Patent Office's integrity was so patently offensive and unfair to the comparees that I just decided the hell with it.

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: Public domain.

        The key to the whole problem is summed up in one word in your post: legislation. Congress writes the legislation and gets their orders from...... you guessed it.... industry and lobbyists paid by industry. The USPTO takes the heat because of Congress's rules and regulations.

        1. ratfox Silver badge

          Re: Public domain.

          Six months ago, I created prior art against such a patent in this post:

          My idea to use echolocation to warn the user of incoming lampposts is much better.

          And by the way, unless somebody filed a patent for that already, this post will count as prior art. I'll stuff a few keywords to make it easier for the experts to find it: Cell phone echolocation radar sonar detection lamppost wall advance warning system bullshit.

          …Ok, now the USPTO will have to reject the patent for being insufficiently novel.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Public domain.

            You should actually challenge it. Why not, they would challenge you!

    2. Richard Jones 1

      Re: Public domain.

      Remember that by patenting the idea and method Google have tried to lock out the patent trolls from this idea field.

      Taken that way it is not nearly so bad.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Public domain.

        I love your rosy view of the motives of a giant corporation.

        Have they patented this (rather dubious) idea and then put it into the public domain so that anybody can use it ?

        If Google want to stop patent trolls they would be better setting up and publicising a website where anybody can post their good ideas, that they personally aren't going to use, in order to put them in the public domain and stop someone else monopolising them.

        If I want to exploit an idea from the website all I have to do is acknowledge the originator.

        Crowdsource innovation and crowd out the trolls.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down

      Re: Public domain.

      This one is obvious to this Practitioner of the Art. The only difference between the code I wrote then (1989) and what is needed now is that you get a read from GPS rather than having to put the coordinates by hand. Sheesh!

  3. BillsBacker


    You've got it wrong. It sends an electric shock to your privates, because you are an alert pedestrian and never walk and look at your phone at the same time, so it's in your pocket. You then fall to the ground, cracking your skull, and are now a veg, but alive. Thanks Google!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: NoNoNo

      Makes sense. You can market vegetables.

      1. Marketing Hack Silver badge

        Re: NoNoNo

        But I am not sure what the demand would be like for the roasted nuts involved....

        1. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

          Re: NoNoNo

          Not to mention the grilled sausage

          1. WraithCadmus

            Re: NoNoNo

            With stewed plums for afterwards?

  4. Marketing Hack Silver badge

    Next year--Gfoodtaster!!

    "Yes, I'd like to order the bacon double cheeseburger with extra mayonaisse and super-sized fries....Hmmm, my phone is vibrating...and no caller...hmmm......And hey, those deep-fried fishsticks look good too. Is the fish fresh?....No?? Well, no worries, give me a large order of those too!.....Damn!!, what is going on with this phone?!....."

  5. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    The only good thing about this is that it just might stop some innocent driver being traumatised when he runs down one of the brain-dead saps.

    1. Ottman001

      Good point. I'm still not in favour of things that do so much to hinder natural selection.

  6. Paul

    but Windows Phone ...

    a little paperclip pops up

    I see you're about to be run over.

    Do you want to

    a/ dodge out of the way?

    b/ get hit and go to hospital?

    c/ get hit and die?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: but Windows Phone ...

      And the masses thinking they were free of that sodding paperclip choose C.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Re: but Windows Phone ...

      Wouldn't it be more intuitive if the device used force feedback to direct you around obstacles? I think that would be absolutely fucking cool, especially if you could couple it with a Kinect and some motion-sensing tabs (like a postage stamp with a gyro) stuck on interesting places.

      Hell, did I just describe motion-capture... oh well.

  7. Haku

    Isn't someone who walks into traffic and gets run over because they were too focused on their smartphone just Darwin's theory in action?

    Google is helping survival of the dumbest.

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge

      Google is helping survival of the dumbest.

      Google is helping survival of the dumbest. its income.

      Dead people don't click on ads much.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't you people see what they are doing? They are making you dependent with their "smart" phones so they can decide who gets the Darwin awards.Think about it, Billions upon billions of dollars spent and invested to get us to some point in the future, where Larry Page and Steve Jobs meet in a strip bar (No Steves not be dead, it's part of the plan see?), one is already there in the back drinking an overpriced beer, the other comes in, meets him at the table. The stripper/waitress gets the order of the new arrival and leaves. One ask the other how things are going, how is home life, etc......

    The beer arrives, she leaves, he takes a big swig.

    One looks at the other with a smirk and ask "so hows work these days?"

    The other, trying not to laugh, takes another swig and pulls out his wallet.

    "Well, going good, but obviously not good enough, looks like you won"

    And hands him.......a dollar bill.

    The other takes it, with a satisfying grin, looks at the other, who is still smiling, and they both begin to laugh. Several people, a few at that very moment who happen to be using their "smart phones" look up to see what's going on.

    Both men notice, and settle down. Still smiling.

    After a few moments, both start laughing harder than before.

    The "winner" claps the other on the shoulder and simply states

    "Don't worry, drinks and lap dances are on me tonight, and since I'm in such a generous mood, I've got a new game we can play. What you say, double or nothing?"

    The other drains the beer.....

    "Sounds like a plan"

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Have an upvote. You hit it... they're doing their bit to make people dependent on them. Dependency = profit in this case. You don't pay our monthly fee for the app... you die.

  9. croc

    How can it help dumb?

    Walking to lunch with a group of fellow telco-ites, we watched a person so thoroughly engrossed in his phone that he walked head first into a power pole. I knew then that we had helped create a monster... I promptly named our monster 'Darwin'.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How can it help dumb?

      The question should not be "How can it help dumb", but "How can I make money with this" and "can I make enough to pay for a lap dance".

      Keep it simple.....

      1. croc

        Re: How can it help dumb?

        Oh, we had long past solved that problem... We sold the underutilized signalling system seven ch.'s 1 & 2 via our SMS gateway...

  10. dan1980

    I suspect that this will be turned off by the majority of people the first or second time it gives them a bogus warning.

    Kind of like UAC in Windows Vista. That was a very good idea but just to annoying and intrusive so many, many people turned it off. Much improved in Windows 7 to the point that many didn't mind and left it as is.

  11. julianh72

    Wouldn't it be simpler to just ...

    ... put a function in the OS which monitors the phone's accelerometers, and disables "social media" apps such as email / gmail / Twitter / Facebook etc whenever the phone recognises that the user is walking? (Or at least pops up a window that says something like "Oi! Watch where you're going!")

    Should I patent that before anyone else has the same idea?

  12. Infernoz Bronze badge

    Why not also have a vertical holographic display with Zombie arrowed at the person

    Seem OK to me, because it's probably accurate if they are so clueless that they need a hazard warning.

  13. RyokuMas Silver badge

    How long...

    ... before we see this built into an API, and someone makes a game using it:

    "Jaywalking Jeopardy!" - how close can you get? The nearer the miss and the faster and larger the incoming object, the higher your score!!!

  14. M7S

    The '70's called and would like their peril sensitive sunglasses back.

    Vogon poetry in motion.

  15. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

    On the other hand,

    Those who would buy this could just have the following played on a loop through their stupid giant hipster headphones:


    1. Mike Smith

      Re: On the other hand,

      Wouldn't catch them all, unfortunately.

      Cycling home last night, I saw a douchebag like that wandering towards the kerb with oversized headphones on his thick head, and an oversized smartphone in his pudgy hand. I was approaching at about 20mph, and he looked right at me. We even made brief eye contact.

      And then he dropped his gaze, started fiddling with his sodding phone and stepped out directly in front of me. Fortunately, my bike's air horn was loud enough to penetrate his dim consciousness and he jumped as if he'd been shot. I swerved round him, intentionally missing him by just a hairsbreadth and rode off shaking my head.

      There was no point in getting wound up about it. It wasn't the first time and I doubt if it'll be the last. But I am starting to think about supplementing the air horn with a lance. Or a paintball gun that fires something that both hurts and leaves a permanent stain.

      1. Swarthy

        Re: On the other hand,

        I would suggest for your 'paintball gun' to use pellets of ammonium triiodide. It 'detonates' on impact, releasing the iodine in the molecule as iodine gas, which leaves an indelible purple stain. The detonation is not forceful (thus not dispersing the gas, or causing grievous bodily harm), but would be startling, and may sting a bit.

        1. Mike Smith

          Re: On the other hand,

          Ammonium triiodide - yes, I like that idea. Only thing is, wouldn't the impact on the pellet from firing the gun cause it to explode in the barrel?

          Just asking, as my chemistry knowledge is rather ancient now.

          1. Swarthy

            Re: On the other hand,

            That depends on the purity of the ammonia used to make the stuff as well as the firing mechanism used to launch it. A paintball gun uses compressed CO2, so I would imagine a sufficiently impure ammonia (house-hold cleaning type) should render it insensitive enough to not go pop on firing. A spring based firing mechanism might be less gentle and more prone to "barrel burst".

  16. Yugguy

    Sweet LORD I've seen it all now.


    Or better still, just get run over and let's start cleansing the gene pool./

  17. razorfishsl

    So if this actually works, then it should be able to reliably predict the winning loto ball numbers.

  18. Dogsauce

    This is all part of Google's plan to provide us with self-driving shoes, shoes that occasionally take you into shops that you're not interested in as part of the service.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Heh heh

    George Orwell would be spitting feathers about now.

    Forced shopping?! Whatever next, automagically take the money out of your bank account to pay for something you looked at online, before you actually even decide to buy it and have it dronedrop shipped right to your door IN ADVANCE .. !

    Then changes the label mid flight using e-ink or ZBD to divert to someone else who paid the extra £3 for "IwanthtisrightnowbecauseiforgotmySObirthday" service

    (scuttles off to apply for patent)

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