Facebook eyes making local connections with mesh networks

A patent application describes a system that would allow for hyper-local advertising and networking

Sample screens for selecting preferences on a proximity wireless mesh network, as shown in a Facebook patent application.
Sample screens for selecting preferences on a proximity wireless mesh network, as shown in a Facebook patent application.
  • Sample screens for selecting preferences on a proximity wireless mesh network, as shown in a Facebook patent application.
  • A concept proximity wireless mesh network, as shown in a Facebook patent application.
  • Sample screens of an instant messenger app based on a proximity wireless mesh network, as shown in a Facebook patent application.
View all images

Facebook has designed a system that would allow individuals and advertisers to make direct connections to those physically nearby that share similar interests or are open to receiving certain advertisements.

The company's work was outlined in a U.S. patent filing for a "wireless social networking" system that was published this week and represents a further step towards advertising and communication that is locally targeted.

Under the envisaged system, a wireless device would establish a connection with other wireless devices nearby. The communication wouldn't run via the Internet but would be based on a direct link between the devices. Each device might be linked to one or many other devices, depending on the density of people in a certain area, and each would be open to sending, receiving and relaying messages as part of the mesh network.

Because the network is based on direct connections, the approximate location of users can be determined. For example, if a device has a 100 meter range then all other devices it is in direct contact with could be determined to be within 100 meters. If those devices acted as relays, then a second level of devices could be determined to be within 200 meters and so on. The number of relays, or "hops," lies at the heart of the envisaged system.

The system outlined in the patent application envisages users setting preferences for receiving or communicating with others based on interest and proximity. Facebook calls the combination of these two factors an "interest metric."

"In general, the wireless device may enable messaging communications with wireless neighbors that have higher interest metrics and avoid enabling messaging communications with wireless neighbors with lower interest metrics," the application said.

Users would categorize themselves as individuals, businesses and advertisers with further sub categorize for finer distinctions.

Facebook undervalued in last-click attribution model
Why Facebook likes are worth $174 to your brand
Facebook fights user fatigue while Twitter keeps growing: Report

"In one example, the neighbor type 'restaurant' may be sub-divided into multiple sub-groups, such as 'Italian,' 'Thai,' 'French,' and others. In another example, the neighbor characteristics depend on the content advertised by the neighbor, such as the specific value of store discounts. In addition, the neighbor characteristics may indicate a neighbor's interests or social activities, such as interests in poker, science fiction, or kung-fu movies," the application said.

"The user may assign different interest metrics to different neighbor characteristics. Hence, the user may set the interest metrics to the highest value for the individuals interested in poker, the medium value for the stores advertising free pizza, and the smallest value for stores advertising discounts on winter clothes that are less than 20 percent off. As a result, the wireless device may prevent messaging communications with the stores advertising discounts on winter clothes, because these stores' have interest metrics that are too low for the user."

Businesses are continually trying to refine their advertising so it only reaches consumers that might become customers. That's especially true of local businesses, which often have limited advertising budgets.

That's where the mesh networking trumps an Internet connection, according to the patent application.

"Finally, enabling communications based at least in part on network proximity may also assist businesses in identifying potential customers. In one example, the owner of a pizzeria may only want to advertise a '7:30 special' to the customers who are close-by to the pizzeria to avoid advertising to customers who are too far away to take advantage of the '7:30 special.' In another example, a department store with a large number of diverse products may tailor its promotional advertisements to the customers shopping within specific store sections. Hence, customers shopping in a 'Women's Shoes' section may receive advertisements that are different from advertisements received by customers shopping in a 'Men's Suits' section."

The system wouldn't be totally focused on advertising -- and that might be key if users were ever to sign on should such a system launch. The interest list would also enable users to find others nearby that shared similar interests and hobbies or act as a filter for discovering existing friends that are in the area.

Details are included in U.S. patent application 20130208714 that was published on Thursday. It was filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on March 14 this year.

Patent applications provide insight into the types of projects that companies are working on. They are typically filed early on in the development process and the appearance of a patent application doesn't necessarily mean a future commercial product.

Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is martyn_williams@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Blog Posts

3 marketing mistakes to overcome when courting prospective customers

Marketing that urges respondents to ‘buy now’ is a little like asking someone to marry you on your first date. At any time, only 3 per cent of the market is looking for what you’re selling, so the chances of your date randomly being ‘The One’ is pretty slim.

Sabri Suby

Founder, King Kong

Why are we dubious about deep learning?

The prospect of deep learning gives those of us in the industry something to get really excited about, and something to be nervous about, at the same time.

Katja Forbes

Founder and chief, sfyte

Why you can’t afford to fail at CX in 2019

In 1976 Apple launched. The business would go on to change the game, setting the bar for customer experience (CX). Seamless customer experience and intuitive designs gave customers exactly what they wanted, making other service experiences pale in comparison.

Damian Kernahan

Founder and CEO, Proto Partners

Red Agency YouGov Galaxy Report, February 2019 Predictors Study. https://redagency.com.au/re...

Vanessa Skye Mitchell

DNA-based marketing: The next big thing?

Read more

RIP holden

Max Polding

Marketing professor: For Holden, brand nostalgia ain’t what it used to be

Read more

Where does the claim that 2 million Australians have tested come from ? Anecdotal information suggests that this is way off the mark.

David Andersen

DNA-based marketing: The next big thing?

Read more

Thank you for the info , being part of a digital marketing agency in kerala , this proved handy and get to know with upcoming trends. htt...

Dotz Web Technologies

Predictions: 9 digital marketing trends for 2019

Read more

So who then is correct? The Research or The skilled Digital people.

Anene

Report reveals Australia faces digital skills shortage

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in