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Google Wants Patent On Splitting Restaurant Bills

timothy posted about 10 months ago | from the steak-eater-picks-the-pocket-of-the-salad-man dept.

The Almighty Buck 196

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.'

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196 comments

WHO !! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45049811)

the fuck cares !!

Re: WHO !! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45049825)

Yes, the world Health Organization cares

Bistromatics (5, Funny)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 10 months ago | (#45049813)

It's probably a part of Google space efforts. I've heard they've funded some research into bistromatics.

"Innovation" (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#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:"Innovation" (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45050747)

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" (4, Interesting)

Bruinwar (1034968) | about 9 months ago | (#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:Bistromatics (2)

tomhuxley (951364) | about 10 months ago | (#45049977)

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

Imagine this: (4, Insightful)

engun (1234934) | about 10 months ago | (#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?

Re:Imagine this: (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45049915)

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

Re:Imagine this: (1)

interval1066 (668936) | about 9 months ago | (#45050899)

I would hope a moderately intelligent patent judge would toss this crap out.

Re:Imagine this: (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45049935)

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're unlikely to turn into patent trolls either. But Larry and Sergey won't be at the reigns forever. That's why I never liked taking part in it, even though my name ended up on a few patents along the way (for things only slightly less obvious than splitting a restaurant bill).

The sad thing is I know of one guy who developed something that actually was quite innovative, no other competitor has something like that AFAIK, and they chose not to patent because it was deemed better off as a trade secret. That's the patent system in action folks!

Re:Imagine this: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45050143)

It's not a novel idea. Sure, technology makes it easier to implement, but I don't think it should be worthy of being a patent.

In fact, I think it would be a good idea to get rid of software patents and subject code to copyright. I would even settle for a one-year lifespan for software patents.

Re:Imagine this: (1)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | about 9 months ago | (#45050617)

I was 'urged' by the suits at my company to file a patent application for what was essentially an H-Bridge driven by an RC multivibrator. It was a real challenge, actually, because I couldn't think up a way to make it novel enough in my description. But they pay a $100 bonus for writing it up, so what the hell.

Bistromathics (5, Informative)

BeerCat (685972) | about 10 months ago | (#45049817)

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]

Re:Bistromathics (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 10 months ago | (#45050161)

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.

Re:Bistromathics (2)

Ark42 (522144) | about 10 months ago | (#45050235)

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.

Re:Bistromathics (2)

mreed911 (794582) | about 9 months ago | (#45050673)

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...

Google patent bill splitting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45049827)

Douglas Adams' Bistromathics - prior art?

Fine Print (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45049837)

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 because they used your phone as a listening device.

Oh, and one more thing: prior fucking art.

Re:Fine Print (5, Insightful)

BrokenHalo (565198) | about 10 months ago | (#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:Fine Print (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45050075)

You weren't invited again, were you?

Re:Fine Print (1)

Eunuchswear (210685) | about 10 months ago | (#45050117)

++true.

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

Re:Fine Print (4, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 10 months ago | (#45050149)

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.

Re:Fine Print (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45050165)

So, by splitting the bill simply I discourage the vegetarian tea-totallers? Double win!

Re: Fine Print (1)

Bart Friederichs (3092573) | about 10 months ago | (#45050511)

You know you can discuss all this before you order, right? If they are good friends nobody will have hard feelings about how you want to pay for your meal as long as you are not riding someone else's pocket.

Re: Fine Print (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 9 months ago | (#45050809)

Sure, but then at the end you need to subtract out those people from the final bill (some restaurants are happy to create individual bills, others aren't), and then divide by n for the rest.

Re:Fine Print (2)

GrumpySteen (1250194) | about 9 months ago | (#45050563)

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.

Re:Fine Print (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45050933)

let me know what part of the country you live in so i know to avoid it, when i go out to eat as a group you pay for what you order, especially when alcohol is involved (always)

Re:Fine Print (1)

mikechant (729173) | about 9 months ago | (#45051001)

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.

Up to a point. Personally, I like to be able to drink as much red wine as I feel like, so I always bung in an extra GBP15 (cost of bottle of Merlot at curry house) at the end even if I didn't drink it all. This way I know nobody will be muttering about me 'not paying my way' and I can relax.

prior art?? (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 9 months ago | (#45050625)

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

Bistronomics? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45049839)

Does this imply we get the bistronomics engine and thus also open up the era for space travel? -- stitch

Bistromatics (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45049845)

... they're on to something big.

Re:Bistromatics (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45050097)

Really big. Where's my patent for splitting your mother's asshole wide open?

Not a problem in a lot of places . . . (4, Informative)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about 10 months ago | (#45049849)

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

Re:Not a problem in a lot of places . . . (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45049933)

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

Re:Not a problem in a lot of places . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45050287)

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

Nonsense. American servers manage to do it just fine between tables so they shouldn't have a problem repeating the exercise between individual customers.

Re:Not a problem in a lot of places . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45050373)

> waitstaff

Please tell me that's not really a word in use.

Do USians talk about servestaff and drivestaff too? 'The aircraft was delayed whilst waiting for the flystaff to finalise departure'

Re:Not a problem in a lot of places . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45050393)

> waitstaff

Please tell me that's not really a word in use.

Sorry to be the one to break it to you, but ... [reference.com]

Re:Not a problem in a lot of places . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45049951)

Yes, the waiter simply asks, "Separate checks?"

Also, the tip is included in the meal prices.

However, not everything is better in Europe: a glass of water might cost €2. Even McDonalds charges €0.60 (~ $1) for a cup of tap water.

Re:Not a problem in a lot of places . . . (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45050077)

Yes, the waiter simply asks, "Separate checks?"

Also, the tip is included in the meal prices.

We still give tips.

However, not everything is better in Europe: a glass of water might cost €2. Even McDonalds charges €0.60 (~ $1) for a cup of tap water.

Hint for americans: The water served is usually mineral water from a well known spring and not like the bottled water you get in big plastic cans (If you ask you can get tap water for free (excellent quality here, on par with mineral water, but better tasting usually). This water is priced like the other drinks. So if you really want to do something for your water and electrolyte balance feel free. I don't like the taste of it.

6,50€ for an excellent (italian, arabic, indian, thai, ...) meal (lunchtime offer, ~11€ in the evening) in a real restaurant plus 1,50€ for fresh juice or a beer and 1€ for an espresso does seem like a nice package. Having to look for restaurants with free seats indicates that the pricing is reasonable (Every second building has a restaurant in it here).

Re: Not a problem in a lot of places . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45050271)

Wtf? Dont tell people to drink tap water im Germany (or anywhere else except for Austria and Switzerland for that matter - maybe other mountain regions) unless you wanna get free salmonella with that. Tastes better? You lack taste, bud (most "mineral" water sucks balls too, btw.).

Tapwater in Germany (3, Informative)

k2r (255754) | about 10 months ago | (#45050493)

The quality of German tapwater is highly monitored and thus the water usually is microbially and chemically at least as clean as bottled water. There is dispute whether it is even monitored /better/ than bottled water.
The risk of contaminating it with a filter is way higher than drinking it directly from the tap. You might have some issues with lead piping in old houses if you have soft water, though.

Concerning taste YMMV, some places have harder water, some temporary add some chlorine after heavy rain, but usually it's tasty.
Over all your warning is complete bollocks.

Re:Tapwater in Germany (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45050669)

Re:Tapwater in Germany (1)

mpe (36238) | about 9 months ago | (#45050905)

And sometimes in the EU the bottled water actually even is tap water...

This can be the case elsewhere in the world too. No doubt some of it comes with pictures on the lable and a name to make people think it is something else.

Re:Not a problem in a lot of places . . . (1)

bsolar (1176767) | about 10 months ago | (#45050129)

However, not everything is better in Europe: a glass of water might cost €2. Even McDonalds charges €0.60 (~ $1) for a cup of tap water.

In my country restaurants are mandated by law to provide tap water on request free of charge, but this varies between different EU countries. Said that, requesting tap water is not customary, I would feel embarassed to ask for that unless I have a particular need (e.g. to take a medication). Also there are no complimentary refills, so at the end beverages tend to make a significant part of the bill.

.

Re:Not a problem in a lot of places . . . (2)

nojayuk (567177) | about 10 months ago | (#45050437)

In the UK pubs and licenced restaurants (ones that can sell alcohol) are required to provide tap water free on request. I space out beers with water to reduce the chances of falling over on the way home or getting into an argument with a lamppost. It also reduces my chance of a hangover the next morning as it helps prevent dehydration.

The licenced trade like this idea even though it theoretically cuts into their nightly take as it also reduces the incidences of fighting, assaults on serving staff, puking, furniture destruction etc.

Re:Not a problem in a lot of places . . . (1)

Eunuchswear (210685) | about 10 months ago | (#45050133)

However, not everything is better in Europe: a glass of water might cost €2. Even McDonalds charges €0.60 (~ $1) for a cup of tap water.

Where the hell are you eating?

I've never been charged for tap water or bread.

(France).

Re:Not a problem in a lot of places . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45050231)

Where the hell are you eating?

Finland.

McDonalds [mcdonalds.fi] (in euros): "Vesi 0,50" is the price for a small cardboard cup of warm tap water handed to you by the server. (Ok, I was off by 10 cents.)

Chico's [chicos.fi] : "ICE WATER (AS THE ONLY DRINK) 1,00" (again, in euros)

Re:Not a problem in a lot of places . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45050921)

those don't qualify as restaurants, by any standards. If you don't like to pay, the toilets here are flushed with water that's better than any bottled stuff anywhere :D

Re:Not a problem in a lot of places . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45050199)

Unless it has changed recently, which I doubt, any place that serves food in the UK is obliged to offer tap water for free.

Re:Not a problem in a lot of places . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45050253)

While I don't like paying for water, why should you not be allowed to sell it for profit?

Re:Not a problem in a lot of places . . . (2)

petermgreen (876956) | about 9 months ago | (#45050677)

According to http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/shopping/tap-water-rights [moneysavingexpert.com] that is not true.

They claim that restaurants that are licensed to sell alchol in england scotland and wales are obliged to provide free tap water but that restaurants in northern ireland and restaurants that are not licensed to sell alchol are not. Furthermore while they can't charge for the water itself they apparently can charge for the "service" and the "use of the glass".

Re:Not a problem in a lot of places . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45050661)

However, not everything is better in Europe: a glass of water might cost €2. Even McDonalds charges €0.60 (~ $1) for a cup of tap water.

Here in the UK you can pay for bottled water, but by law if you ask for tap water it must be given and must be free. They don't put it on the menu (for understandable reasons), but you always can request it.

There was a case a few years back where a restaurant owner tried giving the water for free but charging the customer for the costs of washing the glass up. He lost.

Re:Not a problem in a lot of places . . . (2)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about 10 months ago | (#45050503)

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 still consider this to be "one of the most troublesome challenges known to humanity".

Re:Not a problem in a lot of places . . . (2)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about 9 months ago | (#45050831)

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.

Re:Not a problem in a lot of places . . . (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45050919)

Google is -patenting- Germany.

Abolish patents (4, Insightful)

jodido (1052890) | about 10 months ago | (#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.

Re: Abolish patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45049911)

There are a bunch of these apps on The App Store. Wonder what Google did that was unique enough to warrant a patent?

Re: Abolish patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45050065)

I don't know. If only there was some way of finding out what's written in a publicly available text.

Re:Abolish patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45050821)

If patents are abolished, inventors will have incentive to keep their inventions as "trade secrets" and some useful inventions may never see the light of day. At least patents allow such inventions to be used 20 years later instead of dying with the inventor.

Patentable? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45049857)

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 people can see for themselves that the calculations are correct.

The main issue is in very large groups it can be hard to figure out who ordered what and some people often forget too. And there's also the group party thing where people order jugs of beer and other stuff to be shared - might be hard to know who drank from which jug. I doubt Google's patent will help with that.

And despite whatever fanciness Google's patent handles, in practice if you pay by card the staff in the establishment are going to be very unhappy if you try to split the bill amongst more than one card in addition to cash. So in practice it's either cash or single card payer.

I suppose Google's patent is different because it'll be "online"?

Re:Patentable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45049987)

The main issue is in very large groups it can be hard to figure out who ordered what and some people often forget too. And there's also the group party thing where people order jugs of beer and other stuff to be shared - might be hard to know who drank from which jug. I doubt Google's patent will help with that.

So hard to keep track of what you did at your drunken orgies, like whose holes you stuck it in, eh homey?

Re:Patentable? (2)

Your.Master (1088569) | about 10 months ago | (#45050123)

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 financial institutions of the users to settle the accounts. It talks about on-demand settlement of accounts, as well as periodic (with monthly as an example), or when the balance reaches a threshold.

Really, this doesn't seem to be about splitting bills. It seems to be a system for ensuring that "I'll got this one, you pay for the next meal" comes out fairly in the long run.

Re:Patentable? (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | about 9 months ago | (#45050637)

Still not really worthy of a patent though.

Re:Patentable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45050737)

I couldn't be bothered to read the whole application but I did read part.

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).

I guess you didn't bother to read the whole post or even sentence you were replying to either. How the heck does Google's system solve the case where people forget what they order or the case where nobody including the waiters is tracking which exact person is ordering and consuming what - it's all under "Tables X, Y and Z".

I see no mention of surveillance cameras and microphones in Google's patent application.

If you already know what was ordered and who is going to pay for what, then the problem is _trivial_.

Re:Patentable? (1)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | about 9 months ago | (#45050671)

And there's also the group party thing where people order jugs of beer and other stuff to be shared - might be hard to know who drank from which jug. I doubt Google's patent will help with that.

That part of the patent pertains to the app when used with the Google Glass plugin.

Google Is Evil (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45049893)

Evil I tells ya. Eeeeeeevil!

Voice activated check split app (5, Funny)

drkim (1559875) | about 10 months ago | (#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...

Re:Voice activated check split app (1)

BrokenHalo (565198) | about 10 months ago | (#45050033)

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.

Re:Voice activated check split app (1)

pla (258480) | about 10 months ago | (#45050449)

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 pile of $20s and seven distinct requests for change in bizarre amounts)?

Re:Voice activated check split app (1)

Bruinwar (1034968) | about 9 months ago | (#45050717)

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.

Re:Voice activated check split app (1)

khchung (462899) | about 10 months ago | (#45050427)

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.

This is already a service... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45049927)

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

PayPal already did it (3, Interesting)

Cyfun (667564) | about 10 months ago | (#45049963)

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

Re:PayPal already did it (1)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | about 10 months ago | (#45050051)

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...

Another Bright Idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45050007)

I'm going to patent waking up in the morning. And if I do this I deserve to post as Anonymous Coward

If Google is like any other large corporation... (1)

bluegutang (2814641) | about 10 months ago | (#45050013)

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 submitter, possibly with high-up connections in the company, for all they know. So they lean towards approving the patent. Thus you occasionally end up with all sorts of patents being approved, including some that make you think "Why on earth would the company care about this?"

And While I'm At It... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45050021)

Oh! And after that, I'm going to patent dying in your sleep!

This isnt hard (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45050025)

I'll be the first to admit I don't get joke son the internet but its very easy to split the check. I have worked for a POS company. We could split by meals, actually split a dish, or split the whole check by seats. It isn't hard and its been done.

Patent offices are full of idiots (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45050029)

If you're running a company and you don't file an idiotic and utterly ridiculous patent like this, one day you'd be sued by another company which choose to do it. Stop blaming the companies for what they're forced to do.

Patent abuses and trolls are all the fault of the patent offices and the mindless idiots inside them.

Not Evil (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45050163)

Only preparing to be evil, soon.

Whogle? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45050217)

Seriously. Why support Google. They've been working hand-in-crotch with the CIA/NSA for years now. We KNOW they 'do evil'. Why do people put up with them? They have, for a very long time, obviously been just another BS corporation corrupt as hell.

There are alternatives to MANY of their services. What services there aren't alternatives to... Those 'services' probably didn't exist 5 years ago, how vital can they be?

Prior art (1)

dutchwhizzman (817898) | about 10 months ago | (#45050265)

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:Prior art (3, Funny)

Milosch1 (969372) | about 10 months ago | (#45050343)

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? ;)

Re:Prior art (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45050383)

It is quite common in Italy to designate paying "alla romana" anything that is equally split among meal participants:
http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alla_romana
There are evidencies of its usage since 18th century:
http://www.accademiadellacrusca.it/it/lingua-italiana/consulenza-linguistica/domande-risposte/pagare-romana
Equivalently, the same expression can be used for specifying that the bill is split according to what you have consumed (see article above)
That is identical to the expression "Going Dutch".
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Going_Dutch

Regardless of the intent, this is probably common, established and radicated usage (and sense) for many countries, including U.S. I guess.
Would that configure as "prior art"?
This seems utterly dumb to me anyway...

How about.. (1)

Horshu (2754893) | about 10 months ago | (#45050457)

A patent for patenting. Sure there's prior art, but when has that stopped anyone from trying?

More nuanced than the headline reads (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45050529)

They haven't simply patented a mundane activity in life but a way to help people remember to pay and share the bill probably using voice commands, their google wallet and gmail combined which is specific and reasonable.

Solutions to Problems that Don't Exist (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about 9 months ago | (#45050533)

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.

User Story. (1)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | about 9 months ago | (#45050569)

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

Re:User Story. (1)

zm (257549) | about 9 months ago | (#45050703)

"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..

Counted sheep (1)

houghi (78078) | about 9 months ago | (#45050587)

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 happened more then once) we ordered all a shot, poured it down and left. That was the last time he did that.

Now when a person has financial problems and informs us, we will order something cheaper AND he will not go with us as much.

Now for the subject: This is something I learned from my mom: Counted sheep are eaten by the wolfs as well.

Re:Counted sheep (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45051047)

Now when a person has financial problems and informs us, we will order something cheaper AND he will not go with us as much.

There are friends with financial problems who should suffer a bit as a learning experience, and there are friends who are just down on their luck.

If you're doing ok financially, it might be good to invite the latter for dinner more often (and pay for their share). They might be embarrassed but do it right and they'll manage to survive it ;).

It's a game theory problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45050621)

Everything changed when the USPTO started being permitted to keep a portion of the fees from every patent they issued (I believe this was around 1988). Before that time, they had a fixed Congressional budget (or so I recall).

As a consequence, there was no "organizational incentive" to issue more patents. In fact, they were years behind, as they spent the necessary time reviewing the patents.

After the rules were changed, they built out a huge facility, hired thousands, and got to work growing into a monster spewing out random property rights...

So the game works like this: the more patents, the more fees. No penalties for errors. So no limits to growth.

The USPTO has essentially become a bacteria colony, and they're currently building a new vial to live in...

So, they're patenting... (2)

FuzzNugget (2840687) | about 9 months ago | (#45050695)

Math

Don't be evil (1)

kawabago (551139) | about 9 months ago | (#45050803)

Didn't last very long.

This is not the problem (3, Interesting)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | about 9 months ago | (#45050853)

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.

anyone who does NOT know any prior art? (1)

hpoul (219387) | about 9 months ago | (#45050865)

i imagine most even coded it themselves.. billmonk, splitwise, or even my own implementation at https://tabsplit.net/ [tabsplit.net] to name a few ;-) maybe it's just me, but nowadays there are dozens of services out there, even mobile apps of some bank institutes start adding this functionality to remember social debts & split bills. it got quite crowded after billmonk has been down every few minutes and ultimately got sold..

Aren't we cute? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45050869)

Another attempt by Google to win over self-proclaimed geeks by being cutesy with patents. Meanwhile, they are attempting to use the FRAND patents from Motorola to shut down both Microsoft and Apple throughout the world.

I built this in 2002 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45050887)

Still have my code and website. We (6 guys living together in atlanta) used it to track group expenses and settle up periodically via paypal. Sounds identical.

dpk

I think google is purposely doing stupid patents (1)

Nyder (754090) | about 9 months ago | (#45050893)

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?

 

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