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AN OVERBROAD PATENT FOR ONLINE DATING - This application from Zoosk seeks to patent the idea of finding other people who are nearby and compatible with you online! 10 minutes of your time can help narrow US patent applications before they become patents HERE

QUESTION - Have you seen anything that was published before Dec, 2011 that discusses:

  1. Finding location information about users on a dating site; and
  2. Finding compatible users to a target user, based on any characteristic defined by the target user (for example, age, gender, height, interests, etc.); and
  3. Providing information about these compatible users to the target user based on the location information of the compatible users;

If so, please submit evidence of prior art as an answer to this question.

EXTRA CREDIT - A reference to anything that meets all of the criteria to the question above AND ALSO uses common friends (e.g. on Facebook), speed of travel between users or length of time users have been on the site to determine compatibility between users.

TITLE: Identifying Nearby, Compatible Users

Summary: [Translated from Legalese into English] A method of online dating which uses location information and compatibility, comprising: receiving location information from a bunch of users, getting a compatibility preference for one of the users, and finding other users near that user who are compatible with that user.

  • Publication Number: US 20130145288 A1
  • Application Number: 13/706,182
  • Assignee: Zoosk, Inc
  • Prior Art Date: Seeking prior Art predating December 5, 2011
  • Open for Challenge at USPTO: Open through Dec 6, 2013

Claim 1 requires each and every step below:

A method of displaying location information of at least one first user to a second user, comprising: 1. Receiving location information from a plurality of third users comprising the at least one first user, and from the second user;

  1. Receiving from the second user information indicating at least one preference for a plurality of characteristics of other users;

  2. Receiving from each of the plurality of third users information comprising a plurality of characteristics of that user;

  3. Selecting the at least one first user from the plurality of third users responsive to the current locations of the plurality of third users and the second user, the preference of the second user and the characteristics of the plurality of the third users; and

  4. Displaying to the second user information responsive to the location information of the at least one first user selected.

In English this means:

A method of showing location information about users to another user, comprising:

  1. Collecting LOCATION INFORMATION from a bunch of users, for example, their zip codes.

  2. One user expresses a “preference for a characteristic” about those users, for example, “I only want to meet guys who are taller than 5’11””

  3. Other users provide (or have provided) information about that characteristic, for example, “I’m a guy and I am six feet tall”

  4. Identifying a subset of the users who meet the characteristic, for example, “all male users who are taller than 5’11”

  5. Displaying to the first user location information about the subset of users who are compatible with them, for example, “See here on this map are guys who are taller than 5’11” and who are LOCATED near you.”

Good prior art would be evidence of a system that did each and every one of these steps prior to the December 5, 2011.

You're probably aware of ten pieces of art that meet this criteria already... separately, the applicant is claiming a method using all of the steps above and uses common friends (e.g. on Facebook), speed of travel between users or length of time users have been on the site to determine compatibility between users.


"Identifying and notifying users of nearby potential matches - Flowchart"


What is good prior art? Please see our FAQ.

Want to help? Please vote or comment on submissions below. We welcome you to post your own request for prior art on other questionable US Patent Applications.


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11 Answers 11

All were released before December 5th 2011:

http://mashable.com/2011/07/11/okcupid-location-mobile-app/

Uses location and interests to present matches that are close to you and have a high matching score. It provides the other users location as well.

http://www.sonar.me/welcome

Uses location, interests, and Facebook friends to present 'interesting people' nearby that match. It provides the other users location as well.

http://www.skout.com/

Also uses location and interests to present matches that are close to you. It provides the other users location as well.

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The first example of a LBS dating service using these claims was from ~1998 in the Japanese product Lovegety; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lovegety For add'l detail on how Lovegety works: http://www.wired.com/culture/lifestyle/news/1998/06/12899

This was expanded upon by many companies since that time, including but not limited to:

OkCupid, 3/5/2004: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OkCupid

add'l detail for how OkCupid works: http://www.switched.com/2011/02/02/okcupid-has-got-the-magic-touch/

Skout, 1/22/2009: http://www.prweb.com/releases/skout/dating/prweb1882114.htm

add'l detail for how Skout works: http://www.onlinepersonalswatch.com/news/2009/01/christopher-wiklund-ceo-skoutcom.html

StreetSpark, ~12/2009: http://mashable.com/2010/05/11/streetspark/

add'l info on Streetspark: http://www.crunchbase.com/company/streetspark http://stylecaster.com/streetspark-future-online-dating/ http://londonist.com/2010/09/london_dating_battle_of_the_apps.php

All four of these examples meet all of the above patent application's claims, and I can provide more examples if needed. In addition, the StreetSpark example meets the additional qualifications requested for extra credit.

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[I'm not a lawyer and this is not legal advice]

It's surprising to see something like this being submitted. This sounds like the definition of the "social discovery app". I had done some research on it as I was working in that field for a while. I believe a bunch of them currently use this algorithm (Highlight, Banjo, Skout, Blendr, Badoo, Glancee are the big ones but there are plenty of others) and have been doing so for years. I also believe the mobile version of certain dating sites also do this (okcupid mobile/match.com mobile/plenty of fish mobile). Basically you enter your information and the kind of people you are looking for and it just finds mutual matches nearby based on your phone's GPS.

Hope you can get this resolved!

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I'm not sure if this would be exact prior art, but Foursquare as described on Wikipedia (emphasis added):

Foursquare is a location-based social networking website for mobile devices, such as smartphones. Users "check in" at venues using a mobile website, text messaging or a device-specific application by selecting from a list of venues the application locates nearby. Location is based on GPS hardware in the mobile device or network location provided by the application. Each check-in awards the user points and sometimes "badges".

The service was created in 2009 by Dennis Crowley and Naveen Selvadurai. Crowley had previously founded the similar project Dodgeball as his graduate thesis project in the Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) at New York University. Google bought Dodgeball in 2005 and shut it down in 2009, replacing it with Google Latitude. Dodgeball user interactions were based on SMS technology, rather than an application.

Foursquare is the second iteration of the same idea, that people can use mobile devices to interact with their environment. As of April 2012, the company reported it had 20 million registered users. The company was expected to pass 750 million check-ins before the end of June 2011, with an average of about 3 million check-ins per day. Male and female users are equally represented and also 50 percent of users are outside the US.

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OK Cupid has been doing location based search since the mid-2000s. It wasn't based on mobile GPS coordinates, but it did search for people within the area you specified, and ordered them based on a combination of their declared location (which presumably was recorded as latitude and longitude), the declared location of the user, and the compatibility rating between the two users.

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OKCupid's iOS app was released prior to 2011 (2009 or 2008 iirc) and included a realtime GPS option. –  apraetor Jul 23 '13 at 20:24
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There are many existing implementations of this idea as mentioned above but this is one of those patent applications which should not be approved even if there is not a single existing implementation. There is not a single seminal idea in this application. Let's evaluate some of the ideas proposed as new in this application.

  1. Identifying users by location is not a new idea. Look at HTML5 geolocation API. Allowing this patent to go through will affect countless existing and new apps that depend on user location.

  2. Classifying users or any object based on certain characteristics is not new either. There are many algorithms that do this. Here's the first one that showed up through google search. It describes how to classify twitter users based on their characteristics. Allowing this patent to go will kill any further innovation in developing advanced techniques in machine learning or prediction to classify users based on their characteristics.

  3. Last new idea in the patent application talks about showing good matches. This is such a universal technique that I don't even want to talk about it.

Only objective behind this patent application is to prevent any other developer from creating a similar application. Approving this will result in reduced competition and reduced innovation. Zoosk should compete on the brilliance of its execution and not on the complexity of it's patent.

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Dating DNA was the first dating app for the iPhone. They had the first dating web app and also the first dating app using Apple's SDK and put into the App Store. They have had (and published) what they called "Match Radar" WELL before 2011.

I found Dating DNA's press release from clear back in Feb 2009 about their Match Radar:

http://www.prweb.com/releases/2009/02/prweb2020374.htm

HEADLINE READ: Dating DNA's "Match Radar" Alerts iPhone Users of Compatible Singles Nearby

SUBLINE READ: Dating DNA Launches Free Dating App for Apple's iPhone with "Match Radar" and "Compatibility Thresholds."

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MeetMoi (meetmoi.com) has been in operation since 2006.

The service is based on using your current location, asking for the type of person you're looking to meet (based on demographics such as gender, age range, etc), then identifying people nearby who meet those criteria.

See the current version at www.meetmoi.com.

Here's a page from the Internet Archive, from 2008, with a very clear demo overview of the service on the home page:

http://web.archive.org/web/20081217205604/http://www.meetmoi.com/welcome

Here's another page from 2008 with a "How it Works" overview:

http://web.archive.org/web/20081103052949/http://www.meetmoi.com/howitworks

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I'm surprised no one has looked outside of dating yet.

What the patent describes is essentially a location-based recommendation system using a user's preference-based ranking model:

  1. the obtaining of a starting location in a geometrical space
  2. the obtaining of a set of association, nearness, or similarity criteria, with optional weights and ordering priority
  3. the application of any of a multitude of public domain nearest-neighbour, clustering, and/or associative-score algorithms to produce a set of results with a compounded relevance ranking that can then be used to display a filtered and ordered subset to the user (e.g. the preference-based ranking model)

Some specific applications that use the above three methods include web search engines, library and journal search engines (predating web search), route-finding applications, point-of-interest finding applications (e.g. in consumer GPS devices), product recommendation engines.

Overall, the patent is claiming a subset of what is already in the public domain: location-based recommendation systems


e.g. Building and evaluating a location-based service recommendation system with a preference adjustment mechanism - Kuo et. al, 2009

From the abstract:

In this paper, we integrate the application of LBS with recommendation technologies to present a location-based service recommendation model (LBSRM) and design a prototype system to simulate and measure the validity of LBSRM. Due to the accumulation and variation of preference, in the recommendation model we conduct an adaptive method including long-term and short-term preference adjustment to enhance the result of recommendation.

Or in plain English:

In this paper, we combine a location-based-service with a preference-based recommendation system, and present a prototype system design.

Diagram on page 4:

Process diagram

Or sequentially:

  1. Obtain location from user
  2. Filter the set of all results into a a plurality of results within a maximum distance from the original user's location
  3. Compute the rank of each result in the filtered set based on the user's preferences (e.g. compute the compatibility score)
  4. Display the filtered results ordered based on the computed rank
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I have never heard the phrase "Bayesian model" used like that. I think you are being unnecessarily "wordy" here. –  user1675549 Jul 25 '13 at 10:22
    
I was actually originally going off of this one: link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007%2F978-3-540-73549-6_110 , which is where the "Bayesian model" came from. But yes, I think you're right. Any preference-ranking model should apply here. (And edited my answer to reflect this.) –  NahNotToday Jul 25 '13 at 16:27
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Micah - did you ever submit any of the prior art above for this? I checked PAIR and there was nothing there.

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