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back to article Google patents search that tracks your mouse moves

Google has patented a system that displays search results and ads based on where you move your mouse. Mountain View first filed for the patent — dubbed a "system and method for modulating search relevancy using pointer activity monitoring" — in February 2005, and the US patent office rubber-stamped the application earlier this …

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FAIL

sure why not

If Apple can patent event driven programming why shouldn't Google patent the onMouseover event

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FAIL

another joke

hahah bingo! another pathetic patent. Am sure one of these days they will patent you just reading off a screen or even looking at it in a particular way!

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Oh no not again

It's an algorithm!

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Badgers

You could also assume...

"Should Google start taking such behavior, we can assume that somewhere, someone will attempt to game the system. You might call it hover fraud."

You could also assume that various lawsuits would ensue (except, of course, in the UK, where invasion of punters' privacy seems to be not only tolerated, but rather de rigeur...ref. Phorm), and that access to ixquick would explode. (I hope the Dutch have enough servers lying around...)

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Anonymous Coward

I look forward to uninstalling Chrome when this is deployed...

...but will it be announced that they've done it, with an easy opt out?

Disgusted of Tonbridge Wells

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Anonymous Coward

re: Disgusted of Tonbridge Wells

Evidently not, or you would have spelled it correctly.

I'd wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment nevertheless.

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Anonymous Coward

Uninstalling Chrome

Don't bother. You're obviously a complete sucker if you installed it in the first place.

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I don't understand how it will work

Yes, the onMouseover event will tell them where my pointer is, but it won't tell them where my eyes are. I tend to move the mouse out of the way of what I'm reading and use the scroll wheel to move up and down the page, then I move it to one of the links on the page, one of the form elements, the back button or the address bar as appropriate when I want to go somewhere else or leave a comment.

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Big Brother

True but...

That's what the web cam is for.

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You don't have to understand how it works...

or whether it does. It works like this:

Google: Hey, Mr. Advertiser - we have this cool new thing: if a (l)user's mouse hovers over your link for more than X, we'll serve them up a whole bunch of ads for your product! All for just $1 per ad!

Adverdroid: I just ejaculated in my pantaloons. Where do I sign?

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The obvious followup...

As long as they are gauging a surfer's "interest" by the mouse hovering over a particular link or bit of a search snippet, there is absolutely no reason for them not to set a threshold past which they assume that you're sufficiently interested to automatically open another window.

"Well, our research shows that users who hover over a search result for 'X' amount of time are likely to click on it -- we're just saving them time.

"... and (artificially) increasing your click-through rates. Pay up!"

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WTF?

Oh dear, I'll be sued for mouse-move fraud, daily.

When I'm bored, or idly reading without 100% interest, I whizz my mouse all over, randomly select/unselect text... drives my mother mad if I'd doing something for her.

But, come on... monitoring where the user moves their pointer? F*** off already.

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For more better annoying...

...try also bouncing one/both knees at same time, and cracking knuckles frequently.

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Chrome

wouldn't be surprised if this is already implemented in some way in Chrome, at least for testing purposes to see if it works, is a viable option etc

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E for originality.

That flowchart represents just about every dynamic mouseover menu I've ever coded, literally, line by line. I'm not in the ad business, but it's the same technique.

I can say I had the idea well before google, as I'm sure plenty more have well before me.

It's neither novel nor does it constitute more than a half hour of R&D. What benefit does the world get by granting this patent? Absolutely ridiculous.

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Joke

@Lou Gosselin

"What benefit does the world get ..."

Good one :o)

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!Chrome

Chrome isn't the issue, since this can already be done via Javascript in any browser. With Google Analytics already linked-in on millions of pages, a modification of that scripting would automatically extend the functionality to them, if they so desired. I doubt it will happen that way, but I also doubted Sarah Palin would be more than a blip on the political radar. And she's gone from blip to blob.

For the luddites who have Javascript turned-off in their browsers, bravo, and keep using tin snips to open your canned peaches.

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Stop

Block Google Analytics

That is the *best* way to stop them!

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Done already...

I had some issues with pages. Found it was the Google Analytics code that was causing it. Blocked those servers from my browser.

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Happy

It is already blocked more often then you think

Spell analytics. Spell it again. And again. Now once again why does Internet nanny software that works on regexps block it? It is the Aaaaaaaaa... word...

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Big Brother

Caveat Browser?

This can all be done with ajax and such, and good adblocking or javascript disabling will foil it, yeah, but there's a bit of paranoia that says, "What's stopping the same logic from sneaking into Chrome at the binary level, where it reports even if you have adblocking or the page doesn't even use Google?"

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Big Brother

New motto

Google's new motto:

Don't just be evil - patent it!

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FAIL

iFinger

Do Google phones support cursor hovering?

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Joke

finger hover data..

There is also some useful information obtainable by determining which finger is used to point at a certain advertisement or search result. Index finger = casual/normal use. Pinkie = for more detailed work, smaller ads. Ring finger = dimwit user. Middle finger = Microsoft or political ad.

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Coat

Right

This will work well for those unfortunate souls with Parkinsons Disease yes?

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Outrage!

For a company that does no evil they sure do want to know a lot about me and my web actions...

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Joke

Maybe...

Maybe they're trying to make sure you're not doing any evil...

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Happy

Maybe, just maybe...

Hurrah! Maybe Google will now figure out that in the 10+ years I've been using the internet, I've never, ever, ever clicked on an advert and will finally stop showing them to me!!!

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Alert

Quick!

Someone implement this in JS, write it up, and backdate it.

@muckminded - back under your bridge (from a NoScript user)

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Daily mail style moral outrage

All browsers with javascript and an xml object can do this - basically any modern browser.

I think you'll find some sites you have visitied do this too, if it is of interest to them they will collect it.

I noticed an insurance site sent off an ajax call to collect my email address the second I'd finished typing it (it becomes valid = ajax call). So I didn't even need to hit the submit button for them to have my details.

I thought it was a good idea, this is no different - you don't want Google to know what you are doing, run adblock and noscript. If that's too hard turn the computer off.

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AJAX email

Interesting that. I remember some discussions with a client a long while ago who wanted to do just that. We came to the conclusion that it might be a bit iffy, privacy/DPA-wise. In clicking a submit button you are consciously sending that data through, can agree to any terms and conditions, etc; but sneakily grabbing the email before I have necessarily decided I definitely want to send it doesn't seem right...

I'm sure some laywer could formulate a "in viewing this website you are agreeing to our terms which allow us to do what we want" type thing, but we weren't comfortable with it.

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touchscreens FTW...

cos there's NO pointer to hover with, you just tap on the screen surface

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Joke

Keyboards FTW

It's rude to point.

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FAIL

My mouse isn't reading the page

See: I have a scroll wheel on my mouse. I tend to put the mouse well to the right of the window, away from the text I'm reading, so I can SCROLL with it without obscuring the text I'm reading.

Bet I'm not the only one.

All that said, once you think of something obvious, you might as well patent it even if your proposed implementation is useless; just so you stop anybody else doing anything genuinely useful with it.

Way to go USPTO. ....Hey that rhymes. Maybe we should put it on a shirt?

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Flame

Irrelevant

Where your mouse is located is not relevant.

Google does not do "if your mouse is at X,Y we will display Z. They chuck raw data into a big number cruncher and from there on it is only a matter of time until it will identify patterns that predicate you doing something of interest to their "customers" (they use Bayes stats so using the word "correlate" is not correct here).

Then you will be fed an offer you supposedly cannot refuse by one of their customers. Voila. Job done. Breath in, generate revenue, breath out, generate revenue yet again.

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Stop

Doh

Not sure everyone posting comments has understood what Google are talking about, it's nothing to do with automatically sending you to a site just by hovering the mouse, not is it like a JS dropdown menu.

It's just about them collecting another stat on their search results (and will probably apply this to analytics too)

My interpretation of this is they'll have an area around each link/search result, when you move your mouse into one of these areas it'll start a timer, when your mouse has been there for a certain minimum period it'll send a tracking message, via ajax probably, to Google. I think I could probably code this in 10 minutes so i'm sure someone somewhere has prior art on this one?!

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Doh re me

"Not sure everyone posting comments has understood what Google are talking about,"

I don't think you understand what everyone's posting about. :) The thing is that many people put the mouse where they're not looking so that it doesn't get in the way. In my case that would be on the far left, or right, or white space, or scroll bar. Where does the "area around each link" come into it?

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The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

Sorry, I was only really talking about a handful of comments that seemed to misunderstand the implementation.

By the sounds of it, they will only be collecting data about certain zones on a page, I assume those zones will be links in search results and the like, so people like you and me who would rather move the mouse pointer out of the way while we read/scroll through search results will probably not give them much in the way of tracking data anyway.

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Big Brother

The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

Why would you assume anything of the sort? There is no reason to beleive that Google will limit itself to any particular region of the screen. After all, if Google is able to determine that we move our mouses to the left/top/bottom/right of the screen in order to read the page we are viewing, then they will likely start putting ads there so that they can trigger those ridiculous expanding ads, thus blocking our view of the information we actually want to obtain with that which we do not.

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Wait for it

Actually that's a brilliant idea. I bet we'll be starting to see Google ads in the scrollbar soon.

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Incipit, insidious and incredulous

Spyware!

Now we allow people to patent how we move our mouse in the privacy of our homes. I am surprised they did not tag on forced switch on of your web cam.

Googleplex; the new intelligence agency spannign the world. It kind of puts MI6 to shame really.

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Stop

Don't let Google know what you're doing!

This is why I like using Firefox with the No Script add-on which completely disable Google scripts, especially Google-Analytics unless I say it can run.

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Anonymous Coward

heh heh heh heh

going to be having some fun with this ;D

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FAIL

I can't think of a good title.

"done without client software, via JavaScript"

In what way are <script>s not client software?

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Why stop there?

Mouse position isn't nearly accurate enough. The next step is to take over the user's webcam and track their eye movements. Also monitor their expression. Pity there's not yet an easy way to measure their pulse rate etc.

After all, that's what the user is for - to respond to ads. They'll obviously be perfectly happy to not bother about this silly 'privacy' thing as long as they can be monetised.

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Big Brother

Why stop there

Unplug your webcam - I already do.

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Moz
FAIL

I suspect...

that the only people who hover their mouse over part of the page they read are the same people who have to run their finger over a book as they read, i.e. morons. Google have invented a moron tracking device.

Apple won't be pleased. Wasn't that the purpose of the iPhone?

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Coat

And...

It's not as if there aren't enough morons out there who could be successfully monetised...

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Joke

successfully monetised?

Ahh you mean Soylent Green, yes?

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