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Methods and apparatus for delivering information of various types to a user

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20130019202 patent thumbnailZoom

Methods and apparatus for delivering information of various types to a user


Some embodiments relate to techniques for performing a search for content, in which a user may issue a search query, and the search engine or engines to which that query is provided may be determined dynamically based on any of a variety of factors. For example, in some embodiments, the search engine or engines to which the query is provided may be determined based on the content of the search query, and/or auxiliary information such as the user's location, demographics, query history and/or browsing history.
Related Terms: Graphics Search Engine Graph

USPTO Applicaton #: #20130019202 - Class: 715810 (USPTO) - 01/17/13 - Class 715 
Data Processing: Presentation Processing Of Document, Operator Interface Processing, And Screen Saver Display Processing > Operator Interface (e.g., Graphical User Interface) >On-screen Workspace Or Object >Menu Or Selectable Iconic Array (e.g., Palette)

Inventors: Marc W. Regan, Vladimir Sejnoha, Sean P. Brown

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The Patent Description & Claims data below is from USPTO Patent Application 20130019202, Methods and apparatus for delivering information of various types to a user.

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RELATED APPLICATION

This application is a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 13/182,512, entitled “Methods And Apparatus For Identifying And Providing Information Sought By A User,” filed Jul. 14, 2011, bearing Attorney Docket No. N0484.70993US00, which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

BACKGROUND

1. Field of Invention

The techniques described herein are directed generally to the field of search queries on a computer network.

2. Description of the Related Art

The Internet is a global system of interconnected computer networks that provide access to a vast array of information. The World Wide Web (WWW) is an information sharing model built on top of the Internet, in which a system of interlinked hypertext documents are accessed using particular protocols (i.e., the Hypertext Transfer Protocol and its variants).

Because of the enormous volume of information available via the WWW and the Internet, and because the available information is distributed across an enormous number of independently owned and operated networks and servers, locating desired content on the WWW and the Internet presents challenges.

Search engines have been developed to aid users in locating desired content on the Internet. A search engine is a computer program that receives a search query from a user (e.g., in the form of a set of keywords) indicative of content desired by the user, and returns information and/or hyperlinks to information that the search engine determines to be relevant to the user\'s search query.

Search engines typically work by retrieving a large number of WWW web pages and/or other content using a computer program called a web crawler that browses the WWW in an automated fashion (e.g., following every hyperlink that it comes across in each web page that it browses). The retrieved web pages and/or content are analyzed and information about the web pages or content is stored in an index. When a user issues a search query to the search engine, the search engine uses the index to identify the web pages and/or content that it determines to best match the user\'s search query and returns a list of results with the best-matching web pages and/or content. Frequently, this list is in the form of one or more web pages that include a set of hyperlinks to the web pages and/or content determined to best match the user\'s query.

There are at least two general types of search engines accessible via the Internet: general-purpose search engines and site-specific search engines. As used herein, the term “general-purpose search engine” means a search engine that provides search results that include web pages and/or content (or hyperlinks to web pages and/or content) hosted on at least two different and independent web sites or domains. General purpose search engines attempt to index and provide search results from content distributed across a wide swath of the Internet. Examples of general purpose search engines include Google™, operated by Google, Inc. of Mountain View, Calif.; Yahoo!™, operated by Yahoo!, Inc. of Sunnyvale, Calif.; and Bing™, operated by Microsoft Corp. of Redmond, Wash.

As used herein, the term “site-specific search engine” means a search engine that provides search results that include web pages and/or content (or hyperlinks to web pages and/or content) hosted on only one web site or domain. Site-specific search engines are frequently used by operators of web sites to allow users to find specific web pages or content on their web sites. For example, the web site of an online retailer (or “e-tailer”) may include a site-specific search engine that facilitates a user locating web pages for products sold by the retailer.

SUMMARY

Some embodiments of the invention provide a method, performed by at least one computer, comprising acts of: (A) receiving a query comprising content; and (B) in response to receiving the query, identifying, based at least in part on the content of the query, at least one search engine to which a representation of the query is to be submitted.

Some embodiments of the invention provide a method, performed by a device, comprising acts of: (A) receiving a query from a user; and (B) causing to be displayed results generated based on the query by a plurality of search engines, the plurality of search engines for which results are displayed being determined dynamically in response to the query.

Other embodiments of the invention provide a method, performed by at least one computer, comprising acts of: (A) receiving a query comprising content; (B) in response to the query being received, determining that the content may have at least a first semantic meaning or a second semantic meaning that is different than the first semantic meaning; and (C) identifying a plurality of search engines to which to submit a representation of the query, the plurality of search engines comprising a first search engine identified based on the first semantic meaning and a second search engine identified based on the second semantic meaning.

Still other embodiments of the invention provide a method, performed by at least one computer, comprising acts of: (A) receiving a query; and (B) in response to the query being received, identifying at least one search engine to which to submit a representation of the query, the identifying being based at least in part on consideration received from an operator of the at least one search engine.

Yet other embodiments of the invention provide a method, performed by at least one computer, comprising acts of: (A) receiving a query; (B) in response to the query being received, identifying a plurality of search engines to which to submit a representation of the query; and (C) defining an order of presentation of the plurality of search engines, the defining being based at least in part on consideration received from an operator of at least one of the plurality of search engines.

Some other embodiments of the invention provide a method, performed by at least one computer, comprising acts of: (A) receiving a query from a device, the query comprising content; (B) determining based at least in part on the content of the query that an application is to be launched on the device; and (C) causing the device to launch the application using at least some information determined from the content of the query.

Still other embodiments of the invention provide a method, performed by a device comprising an application, comprising acts of: (A) receiving a free-form query from a user; (B) transferring a representation of the query to at least one computer; and (C) receiving from the at least one computer at least one instruction to launch an application on the device.

Yet other embodiments of the invention provide a method, performed by a device comprising first and second applications, comprising acts of: (A) receiving, from a user, a natural language input to the first application; (B) transferring a representation of the natural language input to at least one computer; (C) receiving from the at least one computer at least one instruction to launch the second application.

Some other embodiments of the invention provide a method, performed by at least one computer, comprising acts of: (A) receiving a query from a device and location data indicating a location of the device, the location data having a level of specificity; (B) in response to the query being received, identifying at least one first search engine to which to submit a representation of the query; (C) determining whether the level of specificity of the location data received in (A) is sufficient for the at least one first search engine; (D) if the level of specificity of the location data is sufficient, instructing the device to issue the representation of the query to the at least one first search engine; and (E) if the level of specificity of the location data is not sufficient, instructing the device to send, to the at least one computer, location data at a greater level of specificity.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

In the drawings:

FIG. 1 is a Venn diagram showing sets of search results from multiple different search engines;

FIG. 2 is a flow chart of an illustrative process for sending search queries to and receiving search results from multiple search engines, in accordance with some embodiments;

FIG. 3 is a block diagram of a computer environment in which some embodiments may be implemented;

FIG. 4 is a block diagram of a client device that executes an application program for querying multiple search engines and an automated speech recognizer for performing speech recognition on voice search queries, in accordance with some embodiments;

FIG. 5 is a block diagram of a client device that executes an application program for querying multiple search engines and a server that executes an automated speech recognizer and provides speech recognition services for the client device to perform speech recognition on voice search queries, in accordance with some embodiments;

FIG. 6 is a block diagram of a computing environment in which some embodiments may be implemented;

FIG. 7 is a block diagram in which audio data of a voice speech query is recognized using multiple different language models, in accordance with some embodiments;

FIG. 8 is a block diagram of a server that instructs a client device which search engines to query in response to receiving a user-supplied search query, in accordance with some embodiments;

FIG. 9 is a diagram showing Universal Resource Locators (URLs) that may be generated to query multiple search engines, in accordance with some embodiments;

FIG. 10A is a depiction of a display of a client device in which search results from multiple search engines may be displayed;

FIG. 10B is a depiction of a display of a client device in which search results from multiple search engines may be displayed;

FIG. 11 is a block diagram of an illustrative computing device on which aspects described below may be implemented;

FIG. 12 is a flow chart of an illustrative process for identifying the type of information and/or action a user seeks; and

FIG. 13 is a flowchart of an illustrative process for determining whether sufficiently accurate location data is available for use.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The inventors have recognized that a given user-specified search query may indicate an interest in searching for any of several different types of information pertaining to the subject of the query. For example, for the search query “Miles Davis,” the user may be interested in obtaining biographical information about Miles Davis, listening to samples of or purchasing Miles Davis\' music, and/or social networking with others who are interested in Miles Davis. Historically, to obtain these different types of information, a user may have had to enter the search string “Miles Davis” into three different search engines. For example, the user might have entered this search string into the search engine for an encyclopedia web site to obtain biographical information, into the search engine for a web site that sells music to listen to or purchase music, and into the search engine of a social networking site to connect with others. The inventors have recognized that this process is often time consuming and laborious, as the user must navigate to multiple different web sites (and potentially manage multiple different browser windows or tabs) and enter the same search string repeatedly.

The inventors have also recognized that, because different search engines index web pages and/or content in different ways, index different universes of content, and/or use different algorithms to determine which web pages and/or content best match a particular search query, different search engines may provide different (though possibly overlapping) sets of search results in response to the same search query. This concept is illustrated by the Venn diagram in FIG. 1. Each set depicted in the Venn diagram of FIG. 1 represents the search results from one of four hypothetical search engines (i.e., search engine one, search engine two, search engine three, and search engine four) provided in response to a user-provided search query for the keywords “Miles Davis.” In FIG. 1, set 101 includes results provided from search engine one and includes search results “Q,” “R,” “S,” and “T.” Set 103 includes results provided from search engine two and includes results “R,” “S,” and “Y.” Set 105 includes results provided from search engine three and includes results “S,” “T,” and “X.” Set 107 includes results provided from search engine four and includes result “Z.” As shown in FIG. 1, some search results are included only in one of the sets and, as such, are returned from only one of the four search engines, while other search results are included in multiple of the sets and, as such, are returned from two or more of the search engines.

When a search engine returns a set of search results in response to a search query, the search engine generally returns the results in an ordered list. The list may be ordered by relevance, may be ordered based on money paid for higher positions in the search results, and/or may be ordered based on other criteria. For example, web pages or content that a search engine has determined to be most relevant may be at the top of the list of the results, while web pages or content that the search engine has determined to be less relevant may be farther down in the list of results. As another example, a particular electronics manufacture may pay an electronics e-tailer to list its televisions higher up in the list when users enter search queries including the word “television” into the site-specific search engine for the e-tailer\'s web site.

The inventors have appreciated that, because different search engines use different algorithms to determine in what order web pages and/or content are to be listed in the search results, even in a situation in which two different search engines include the same web page or piece of content in their search results in response to a particular search query (e.g., “Miles Davis”), any particular web page or piece of content may be at or near the top of the list of results provided by a first of the two search engines (e.g., because the first search engine has determined the web page or piece of content to be particularly relevant in the universe of content in evaluates), but may be further down the list of results provided by a second of the two search engines (e.g., because the second of the two search engines has determined the web page or piece of content to be less relevant in the universe of content it evaluates). Similarly, some results that are listed near the top of the list of search results from the second search engine may be listed much lower in the list of results provided by the first engine. The inventors have recognized that users are more likely to notice and access results that are near the top of the list. Thus, by using only one of the two search engines, a user may not notice or access results that may be highly relevant to the user.

As such, the inventors have recognized that issuing a user-specified search query to only a single search engine increases the chances of some web pages and/or pieces of content that are potentially relevant not being included the search results or being listed low enough in the returned list of search results that the user disregards them. In addition, the inventors have recognized that issuing such a search query to only a single search engine may limit the content that is returned to only the type of content that is search and/or indexed by that search engine, while the user may be interested in other, different types of content pertaining to that search query.

Some conventional web-based software programs, referred to as metasearch engines or search engine aggregators, receive a user-specified search query, issue the search query to multiple search engines, receive results from each of these search engines, remove duplicates, aggregate these search results into a single list, and display this list of aggregated search results to the user. One example of such a metasearch engine is Dogpile™, operated by Infospace, Inc. of Bellevue, Wash. However, the inventors have recognized that these metasearch engines have a number of disadvantages.

First, the search engines that are queried by these metasearch engines include only general-purpose search engines, and do not include any site-specific search engines.

Second, because metasearch engines, in response to a user-specified search query, display to the user a single list of aggregated search results from a number of different search engines, the user has no ability to see which search engine provided which search result, to see how relevant each of the plurality of search engines deemed a particular search result to be, or to look at the full set of results returned from any one particular search engine.

Third, metasearch engines run on one or more servers that receive a user-specified search query issued from a browser or other software application executing on the user\'s client device and issue the search query from the server(s) to the plurality of search engines that are to be queried. Because a metasearch engine may receive search queries from and provide aggregated search results to a large number of users, the server(s) on which the metasearch engine operates may regularly issue a very large number of search queries to the search engines whose results it aggregates. One consequence of this is that a search engine may receive hundreds of thousands or even millions of search queries daily from the same server or IP address, and may perceive this behavior as a single user issuing an enormous number of search queries to the search engine. Many search engine operators would consider this behavior to be an abuse of the search engine service and/or a potential denial of service attack and would take action to block search queries to their search engines from an IP address issuing such a large number of queries. For this reason, a metasearch engine operator must typically obtain contractual agreements with the search engine operators whose search engine results are aggregated by the metasearch engine to allow the metasearch engine to issue a large number of search queries to these search engines.

Fourth, these metasearch engines do not provide any capability for the user to control to which search engines his or her search query is to be provided. Rather, existing metasearch engines have a fixed set of search engines to which every search query is provided. Thus, the user has no control over which search engines\' results are provided in response to a search query and the metasearch engines do not perform any customization of which search engines are queries based on which user issued the search query or based on the content of the user\'s search query.

While some embodiments of the invention address above-discussed deficiencies of existing metasearch engines, it should be appreciated that not every embodiment addresses all of the deficiencies discussed above, and some embodiments may not address any of these deficiencies. As such, it should be understood that the invention is not limited to embodiments that address all or any of the above-described deficiencies of metasearch engines.



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stats Patent Info
Application #
US 20130019202 A1
Publish Date
01/17/2013
Document #
13221332
File Date
08/30/2011
USPTO Class
715810
Other USPTO Classes
707706, 707E17108
International Class
/
Drawings
14


Graphics
Search Engine
Graph


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