When Amazon's Dash buttons first debuted two years ago, many thought it was an April fool's joke. A device you could press just to order toilet paper? As it turned out of course, it wasn't a joke at all. From surprise chocolates to Calvin Klein underwear, there are now well over 250 brands that have joined the one-button-press bandwagon. It's no surprise then that Walmart wants to get in on the action too.
The five biggest tech companies have applied for more than 52,000 patents since 2009, according to a report by CB Insights. And the applications tell a story about where each of the tech giants is strong and where they're weak. For instance, the patent applications show that Apple lags badly in artificial intelligence, one of the fastest-growing segments in tech. Microsoft leads AI with more than 200 patent applications since 2009, and Google comes in second with 150. Apple came in last among the top five.
When you're at the store, it's long been easy to pull Amazon out and compare product prices. But with a patent filed by Amazon could make that harder to do. In Amazon's patent filing, which is titled "Physical Store Online Shopping Control," the online retailer details a method for preventing shoppers from searching for alternative prices when connected to a store's own Wi-Fi network, Engadget reported. If you attempt to browse for a product while on store Wi-Fi, the system can choose to either redirect you to another site, block access to the competing product listing or send an employee to assist you. The patent text says the technology would use the communications between your phone and the store's Wi-Fi to "triangulate a location or position of the consumer device within the retailer location."