WO2014072931A1 - Device, system, and method of sharing social network information - Google Patents

Device, system, and method of sharing social network information Download PDF

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Publication number
WO2014072931A1
WO2014072931A1 PCT/IB2013/059973 IB2013059973W WO2014072931A1 WO 2014072931 A1 WO2014072931 A1 WO 2014072931A1 IB 2013059973 W IB2013059973 W IB 2013059973W WO 2014072931 A1 WO2014072931 A1 WO 2014072931A1
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Prior art keywords
flight
social
information
user
passenger
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PCT/IB2013/059973
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French (fr)
Inventor
Eran Savir
David Rachamim
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Seatid Ltd.
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    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06QDATA PROCESSING SYSTEMS OR METHODS, SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES; SYSTEMS OR METHODS SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • G06Q30/00Commerce, e.g. shopping or e-commerce
    • G06Q30/06Buying, selling or leasing transactions
    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06QDATA PROCESSING SYSTEMS OR METHODS, SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES; SYSTEMS OR METHODS SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • G06Q10/00Administration; Management
    • G06Q10/02Reservations, e.g. for tickets, services or events
    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06QDATA PROCESSING SYSTEMS OR METHODS, SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES; SYSTEMS OR METHODS SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • G06Q30/00Commerce, e.g. shopping or e-commerce
    • G06Q30/02Marketing, e.g. market research and analysis, surveying, promotions, advertising, buyer profiling, customer management or rewards; Price estimation or determination
    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06QDATA PROCESSING SYSTEMS OR METHODS, SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES; SYSTEMS OR METHODS SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • G06Q50/00Systems or methods specially adapted for specific business sectors, e.g. utilities or tourism
    • G06Q50/01Social networking

Abstract

Device, system, and method of sharing social network information. A method of sharing social information includes: obtaining from a social network social information of passengers associated with a flight; and presenting the social information to a prospective passenger of said flight. The obtaining includes obtaining from the social network in bulk social information of at least two passengers associated with a flight, by sending a query which includes an identifier of said flight, and which excludes any identifier of any passenger on said flight.

Description

DEVICE, SYSTEM, AND METHOD OF

SHARING SOCIAL NETWORK INFORMATION

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[001] The present invention relates to the field of information technology.

BACKGROUND

[002] Millions of users worldwide utilize a social network in order to communicate and share information with family members and friends. A social network, for example, Facebook, Linkedln, or Google Plus, may include a website or an Internet-based service which allows users to create and maintain a personal profile or personal page, to befriend or to "like" or to "follow" other users, to share text and images with other users, to perform blogging activities, or the like.

[003] A user of a social network may create a personal profile or a personal page, in which he may store data intended for sharing with other users of the social network, data which may be referred to as "social information". Social information may include, for example, an image or photograph of the user, a gender of the user, an age or a date of birth of the user, a marital status or family status of a user, a profession or occupation of the user, current and past employer(s) of the user, current or past school(s) attended by the user, a hobby or interest of the user, a city or state or country in which the user lives or originates, or the like.

SUMMARY

[004] The present invention may include, for example, devices, systems, methods, computerized programs and computerized application for sharing social information among users. For example, a user may access an airline website in order to reserve a flight. The user may consent to sharing his social information with other passengers on that flight; and upon such consent, the user may be able to view social information of fellow passengers on that particular flight. Furthermore, when the user selects a seat on that flight, the user may be presented with a seating chart or a seating map showing available and occupied seats, augmented by social information of passengers in occupied seats. [005] In accordance with the present invention, for example, a method of sharing social information may include: obtaining from a social network social information of passengers associated with a flight; and presenting said social information to a prospective passenger of said flight.

[006] In accordance with the present invention, for example, the obtaining may include: obtaining from the social network in bulk social information of at least two passengers associated with a flight.

[007] In accordance with the present invention, for example, the obtaining may include: sending a query which includes an identifier of said flight, and which excludes any identifier of any passenger on said flight.

[008] In accordance with the present invention, for example, the obtaining may include: in response to a single query identifying only a particular flight, obtaining a batch of social information items of at least two passengers on said particular flight.

[009] In accordance with the present invention, for example, the presenting may include: presenting a seating map for said flight indicating available seats and occupied seats; and for at least one occupied seat, presenting social information of a passenger occupying said occupied seat.

[0010] In accordance with the present invention, for example, the method may include: calculating a social relevance score for each one of said passengers associated with said flight; and ranking said passengers based on said social relevance score.

[0011] In accordance with the present invention, for example, calculating the social relevance score may include: identifying common traits among passengers of said flight.

[0012] In accordance with the present invention, for example, the method may include: allocating a first weight to a first common trait of a pair of passengers, and allocating a second, different, weight to a second common trait of said pair of passengers.

[0013] In accordance with the present invention, for example, the method may include: based on said ranking, matching between a first passenger of said flight, and one or more other passengers-of-interest to said first passenger.

[0014] In accordance with the present invention, for example, the method may include: receiving flight identification data from a flight booking system; obtaining social information of passengers for said flight; serving to said flight booking system said social information. [0015] In accordance with the present invention, for example, the method may include: establishing a first instance of Oauth protocol with a social network, comprising: assigning to the social network a role of a server, and assigning to an intermediate module a role of a client; and establishing a second, separate, instance of OAuth protocol with a flight booking system, comprising: assigning to the intermediate module a role of a server, and assigning to the flight booking system a role of a client.

[0016] In accordance with the present invention, for example, the method may include: displaying a flight search result page which comprises: identifiers of one or more flights, and social information of passengers in each one of said one or more flights.

[0017] In accordance with the present invention, for example, the method may include: presenting a seating map for said flight indicating available seats and occupied seats; and presenting near the seating map a social widget for displaying social information of passengers in said flight.

[0018] In accordance with the present invention, for example, the method may include: presenting a mock widget to elicit a user to log-in into a service which permits said user to share social information with other passengers on said flight.

[0019] In accordance with the present invention, for example, the method may include: displaying a seat map of said flight, the seat map indicating which one or more seats are available and which one or more seats are reserved; and upon a user pointing at a reserved seat on said seat map, displaying social information of a passenger that reserved said seat.

[0020] In accordance with the present invention, for example, the method may include: displaying a seat map of said flight, the seat map indicating which one or more seats are available and which one or more seats are reserved; and for at least one seat that is reserved, displaying at a location of said seat in the seat map an image of a passenger that reserved said seat.

[0021] In accordance with the present invention, for example, the obtaining may include: obtaining social information of at least a first passenger and a second passenger on said flight, wherein the first passenger is a passenger who booked the flight through a website of an airline that operates said flight, and wherein the second passenger is a passenger who booked the flight through a website external to the website of said airline that operates said flight. [0022] In accordance with the present invention, for example, the method may include: suggesting to said prospective passenger a seat in said flight, based on one or more common traits identified by matching between social information of said prospective passenger and social information of other one or more passengers on said flights.

[0023] In accordance with the present invention, for example, the method may include: taking into account a feedback received from said prospective passenger regarding a previously- performed seat selection that was based on social information in a previous flight.

[0024] In accordance with the present invention, for example, the method may include: sending to said prospective passenger a notification indicating a change in seating assignment of another passenger on said flight, the notification indicating a seat of said other passenger on said flight and further including social network information of said other passenger.

[0025] In some embodiments, a method may comprise: obtaining from a social network social information of participants associated with a future event in a venue; and presenting said social information to a prospective participant of said future event in said venue.

[0026] In some embodiments, a method may comprise: obtaining from a social network social information of users that are associated with a business activity at a defined venue, wherein the business activity comprises an activity selected from the group consisting of: renting a vehicle, renting a housing unit, purchasing a vehicle, purchasing a housing unit; and presenting said social information to a prospective participant in said business activity at the defined venue.

[0027] The present invention may provide other and/or additional benefits or advantages.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0028] For simplicity and clarity of illustration, elements shown in the figures have not necessarily been drawn to scale. For example, the dimensions of some of the elements may be exaggerated relative to other elements for clarity of presentation. Furthermore, reference numerals may be repeated among the figures to indicate corresponding or analogous elements. The figures are listed below.

[0029] Fig. 1A is a schematic block diagram illustration of entities and modules which may participate in a demonstrative implementation of the present invention;

[0030] Fig. IB is a block diagram illustration of an information sharing application and its components and modules, in accordance with the present invention; [0031] Fig. 2 is a schematic illustration of an augmented flight details page, in accordance with the present invention;

[0032] Fig. 3 is a schematic illustration of an augmented flight search results page, in accordance with the present invention; and

[0033] Fig. 4 is a schematic illustration of an augmented flight seat map incorporating therein social information of passengers, in accordance with the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PRESENT INVENTION

[0034] In the following detailed description, numerous specific details are set forth in order to provide a thorough understanding of some embodiments. However, it will be understood by persons of ordinary skill in the art that some embodiments may be practiced without these specific details. In other instances, well-known methods, procedures, components, units and/or circuits have not been described in detail so as not to obscure the discussion.

[0035] The present invention may allow sharing of social information among prospective passengers who utilize an airline website or a flight reservation website. A user who considers or intends to reserve a particular flight, or is in the process of reserving a particular flight, may choose to share his social information with other passengers on that flight. The user may then be able to view the social information of other passengers on that flight who consented to share their social information with fellow passengers. Particularly, in a seat selection process, a seating chart may be augmented with social information of passengers, thereby allowing the user to select a seat by taking into account the social information of other passengers in nearby seats. The present invention may be implemented, for example, within an airline booking system or website (e.g., a website such as United.com or Delta.com), within an Online Travel Agency (OTA) system or website (e.g., a website such as Expedia.com or Orbitz.com), or the like.

[0036] Reference is made to Fig. 1 A, which is a schematic block diagram illustration of entities and modules which may participate in a demonstrative implementation of the present invention. As shown in Fig. 1A, a traveler 101 may utilize an information sharing application (ISA) 102, which may be able to communicate with an airline/OTA system 103 and with a social network 104.

[0037] Social network information of travelers may be shared among consenting travelers without requiring airline/OTA system 103 to provide any information, and without requiring airline/OTA system 103 to pass to ISA 102any personal information of traveler 101 (e.g., the real-life name of traveler 101 or his passport number). Rather, ISA 102 may ask traveler 101 for his permission or consent to obtain his social information directly from social network 104, and to share his obtained social information with fellow travelers within the scope of airline/OTA system 103.

[0038] ISA 102 may request permissions, obtain information, and share information in accordance with a suitable protocol or standard, for example, OAuth standard, OAuth 1.0 standard, OAuth 2.0, or the like, optionally utilizing also a suitable user-authentication standard (e.g., OpenID standard). In a demonstrative implementation, ISA 102 may utilize the OAuth standard which may assign four roles, for example, a resource owner, a client, a resource server, and an authorization server. In interactions among ISA 102, traveler 101, and social network 104, the role of resource owner may be assigned to traveler 101, the role of the client may be assigned to ISA 102, and the roles of resource server and authorization server may be assigned to social network 104. In interactions among ISA 102, traveler 101 , and airline/OTA system 103, the role of the resource owner may still be assigned to traveler 101, whereas the role of the client may be assigned to airline/OTA system 103, and whereas the roles of the resource server and authentication server may be assigned to ISA 102.

[0039] An end-to-end process of authenticating traveler 101 and accessing his social information may be achieved, for example, by combining two separate OAuth-like protocols. For example, a first OAuth protocol 111 may be implemented between ISA 102 and social network 104, and a second OAuth protocol 112 may be implemented between ISA 102 and airline/OTA system 103. ISA 102 may operate as the client when accessing social information of traveler 101 on social network 104; and ISA 102 may operate as the resource server and authentication server when providing or serving the social information of traveler 101 to airline/OTA system 103.

[0040] Traveler 101 may utilize a computer or mobile phone or other electronic device to access a website of airline/OTA system 103, for example, in order to search for a flight or to book a flight. Traveler 101 may be presented with an option to share and view social information. If traveler 101 approves, the website of airline/OTA system 103 may redirect traveler 101 to an authentication page or module of ISA 102 (e.g., a user authentication URL of ISA 102), thereby triggering a first OAuth flow between ISA 102 and airline/OTA system 103. Upon such redirection from airline/OTA system 103 to ISA 102, user authentication may be performed by ISA 102, in order to obtain user permission to access his social information. For example, ISA

102 may display to traveler 101 a login screen, with an option to log-in to one of multiple social networks (e.g., Facebook, Linkedln, Google Plus). Accordingly, ISA 102 may request from traveler 101 his permission to access his information in one of several social network by logging into a particular social network, for example, redirecting traveler 101 to an authentication URL of a particular user-selected social network 104, thereby triggering a second OAuth flow between ISA 102 and social network 104. Traveler 101 may thus be presented with a login screen of social network 104 (or, the login screen may be bypassed if traveler 101 is already logged in to social network 104), and then a form or question may be displayed to obtain approval of traveler 101 for sharing his social information with ISA 102. Once traveler 101 approves such sharing, he may be redirected back to ISA 102, where he may be presented with a form or a question to obtain approval of traveler 101 for sharing his social information with airline/OTA system 103. Once traveler 101 approves, he may be redirected back to airline/OTA system 103, thereby completing the authorization flow and allowing airline/OTA system 103 to access the social information of traveler 101 indirectly through ISA 102. For example, a token may be provided by ISA 102 to airline/OTA system 103 upon successful authentication, and airline/OTA system 103 may utilize that token in subsequent queries.

[0041] It would be appreciated by persons of ordinary skill in the art that in the above-described flow, airline/OTA system 103 may not provide any data about traveler 101; rather, data about traveler 101 may only be retrieved from social network 104 after obtaining permission of traveler 101. Accordingly, during user authentication and user authorization, no user data is provided by airline/OTA system 103, or by a particular airline which operates airline/OTA system 103. Once traveler 101 is authenticated by ISA 102, and once traveler 101 authorizes airline/OTA system

103 to access the social information of traveler 101 through ISA 102, then airline/OTA system 103 may query ISA 102 on behalf of traveler 101. The query may be, for example, a query for information about all travelers on a particular flight, that traveler 101 booked already or considers booking. The query may indicate the airline or carrier, the fight number, and the flight date; whereas the query may not indicate the real-life name or a passport number (or a national ID card number) of traveler 101 or of other passengers on that flight. In response to such query, ISA 102 may provide to airline/OTA system 103 the social information of passengers on the queried flights, such social information including, for example, a screen-name or user-name of each such passenger (on social network 104), an image of such passenger, a gender of such passenger, an age of such passenger, or the like. Subsequently, traveler 101 may select a seat on the flight, and airline/OTA system 103 may indicate to ISA 102 the seat location and a token pointing to the social data of the seat holder, the token then being used by ISA 102 to obtain the social data of the seat holder from social network 104. ISA 102, in turn, may save or store links between seats and travelers that were already resolved, and such data may be provided to airline/OTA system 103 in a subsequent query.

[0042] Traveler 101 may search for flights through airline/OTA system 103, and may show interest in a particular flight. Airline/OTA system 103 may request from ISA 102 social information of travelers on that particular flight. ISA 102 may retrieve the list of travelers whose seats on this flight were already reported by airline/OTA system 103 to ISA 102, and ISA 102 may obtain the social information of such travelers from social network 104 and may provide such social information back to airline/OTA system 103 which may display the social information to traveler 101. Upon flight selection and seat selection by traveler 101 , airline/OTA system 103 may notify ISA 102 of such flight selection and seat selection, and ISA 102 may store this information to be used in a subsequent query from airline/OTA system 103.

[0043] Optionally, ISA 102 may be integrated into a website of an airline or an OTA, at one or more suitable web-pages or place(s) within a web-page. The interaction of traveler 101 with ISA 102 may include, for example, signing in by traveler 101 into the service provided by ISA 102; displaying social information of fellow travelers (and optionally, passenger list) on flight search result page(s) and/or on flight details page(s); and displaying social information of passengers (and optionally, passenger list) on or with a seat map of a particular flight.

[0044] Reference is also made to Fig. IB, which is a block diagram illustration of ISA 102 and its components and modules, in accordance with the present invention. ISA 102 may include, for example, an OAuth control module 150, a social information fetching module 151 , a social information serving module 152, a sign-in module 131, sharing approval module 132, a triggering module 133, a mock social widget generator 134, a flight details page augmenter 135, a flight search results augmenter 136, a flight seat map augmenter 137, a ranking module 138, a matching module 143, social information merger 144, privacy module 145, a statistics module 171, a reporting module 172, a feedback module 153, a seat map database 154, a seat map updater 155, and/or other suitable hardware components and/or software modules. Some components or modules may be implemented using a processor or a computer program, or may be combined or integrated into one unit or into multiple sub-units.

[0045] OAuth module 130 may establish and operate the multiple sessions of OAuth which may be used by ISA 102, as detailed above, such that ISA 102 may obtain the social information as a "client" from social network 104, and may provide the social information as a "server" to airline/OTA system 103. Social information fetching module 151 may be responsible for fetching or obtaining the social information from social network 104; whereas social information serving module 152 may be responsible for serving or providing the obtained social information to airline/OTA system 103.

[0046] Sign-in module 131 may handle signing-in or logging-in of traveler 101 , which may be required of traveler 101 in order to provide and/or receive social information. A user who browses an airline website or an OTA website without logging-in to ISA 102 may not be able to view social information of other travelers, and may not be able to share his social information with other travelers.

[0047] Sharing approval module 132 may handle the process of obtaining approval from traveler 101 to share his social information with fellow travelers. For example, once traveler 101 logs-in into ISA 102 and provides user consent to share social information on an airline or OTA website, the social information of fellow travelers may become available to traveler 101. Traveler 101 may sign-in and provide his consent through an OAuth authentication flow, which may run in a main window or in a current window (e.g., of a website of the airline or OTA), or in a pop-up window or pop-up layer, e.g., in response to a trigger on the website which opens such pop-up.

[0048] Triggering module 133 may generate, or may present to the user, one or more triggers to elicit the user to sign-in to ISA 102 and to add social information capabilities to a flight reservation web-page that the user is browsing. For example, a trigger for launching a sign-in interface may be an explicit button or link on the airline/OTA website, which may read "sign-in with a social network to view social information of fellow passengers". Such button or link may be placed, for example, in a home page or a landing page of the airline/OTA website, thereby allowing the user to log-in to social information sharing before even searching for flights. Additionally or alternatively, the button or link may be placed in a search result page, and optionally, subsequent to user log-in, the airline/OTA website may re-render the search results to include the social information of fellow travelers. Additionally or alternatively, the button or link may be placed in a seat map web-page, and optionally, subsequent to user log-in, the airline/OTA website may re-render the seat map to include the social information of fellow travelers

[0049] Another trigger for launching a sign-in interface may be a search button of a flight search interface of the airline/OTA website. For example, the user may fill-out flight parameters (e.g., flight date, origin airport, and destination airport), and may click on a "search flights" button or link. In response, the airline/OTA website may display a "search in progress" page while the search is performed; and such page may include the sign-in interface (or a link or button leading to the sign-in interface) for sharing and obtaining social information of fellow travelers.

[0050] Mock social widget generator 134 may present to the user a mock social widget or a mock social network application or module, as another trigger for signing-in. For example, a scrollable grid or list of empty images or grayed-out images or blurred-out images or anonymous images may be presented, as a mock of a real seat map which includes real social information, in order to capture the attention of a user who searches for flights. Upon hover or on click by the user on the mock item(s), the sign-in interface may be displayed. In some implementations, optionally, the social widget may include incomplete social information (e.g., passenger images but not passenger names; passenger genders but not passenger names), and complete information may be presented only upon signing-in. Once the user signs-in, the relevant page may be re- rendered to show the complete social information of fellow passengers.

[0051] Flight details page augmenter 135 may include a module to augment a flight details page with social information of fellow passengers. For demonstrative purposes, reference is made to Fig. 2, which is a schematic illustration of a flight details page 200, in accordance with the present invention. Flight details page 200 may include, for example, an airline (or carrier) identifier 201, a flight number 202, a flight origin 203, a flight destination 204, flight date/time information 205, and a mock social widget 210 showing anonymous images 212-214 of passengers, optionally accompanied by an invitation 211 to sign-in to see social information of fellow passengers on the flight, and optionally accompanied by mock scrolling elements 215 or other mock interface components.

[0052] Flight search results augmenter 136 may include a module to augment a flight search results page with social information of fellow passengers. For demonstrative purposes, reference is made to Fig. 3, which is a schematic illustration of a flight search results page 300, in accordance with the present invention. Flight search results page 300 may include, for example, a search results pane 310 having one or more flight search results items 311-313, and a social widget pane 320 showing multiple lists 321-323 of passengers on each respective flight. Each list 321-323 may include some passengers, for example, 3 or 4 or 5 passengers, who consented to share their social information with fellow travelers. Passenger images in each list 321-323 may be sorted, for example, based on social relevance to the current user (e.g., based on geographic proximity, gender, profession, age, age group, common interests, having one or more common friends, or the like). Each list 321-323 may be scrollable, allowing the user to scroll (e.g., sideways) to view additional list members. Optionally, hovering over (or clicking on, or touching) an image in each list 321-323 may cause a pop-up window or layer to be displayed, showing additional or extended social information for the selected passenger (e.g., passenger name, title, profession, gender, age, marital status, geographic location). For demonstrative purposes, an image 331 in list 321 is shown in a "clicked" status, such that an extended information panel 332 is shown. Optionally, extended information panel 332 may include additional social information or social insights, for example, indicating a common interest or a common hobby or a common educational institution shared between the user and the selected fellow passenger. In a demonstrative embodiment of the present invention, extended information panel 332 may include, for example, social information 341, common traits 342 of the passenger with the current user, passenger image 343, and an indication of a flight seat 344 allocated to that passenger. It is noted that extended information panel 332 depicts only a few demonstrative fields and social information items, which are shown for demonstrative purposes; and other and/or additional social information items may be presented in extended information panel 332, for example, location or residence of the user, hobbies or interests of the user, social buttons which may perform a social network action (e.g., "follow" or "add as a friend"), social links which may link to a user page or a user profile in a social network (e.g., a button marked with "f to link to a user's Facebook page, a button marked with "t" to link to a user's Twitter page), or the like.

[0053] Flight seat map augmenter 137 may include a module to augment a flight seat map with social information of fellow passengers. For demonstrative purposes, reference is made to Fig. 4, which is a schematic illustration of a flight seat map 400 incorporating therein social information of passengers, in accordance with the present invention. Flight seat map 400 may include multiple squares 401 or other graphical elements representing seat assignment, each one of squares 401 being associated with a row number and a seat number (e.g., seat 27-A, seat 24-B, or the like), and may be associated with a color code or a symbol indicating whether the seat is already booked or available. A user that is signed- in to ISA 102 may be able to view flight seat map 400 augmented with social information, which may be presented in an overlay layer or a pop-up panel or window, optionally triggered by a hover-on or mouse-on or clicking or touching a particular seat. For example, seat 405 is shown with an extended information panel 432 pertaining thereto, which may be generally similar to extended information panel 332 of Fig. 3. Optionally, social information of passengers may be presented in other suitable ways, for example, as a list of passengers side -by-side near seat map 400, or under or above seat map 400, or in a separate layer or window.

[0054] Optionally, flight seat map 400 may include, or may be accompanied by, a social widget 450 showing a full list or a scrollable list of images of passengers on that flight who consented to sharing their social information with fellow passengers. Each image in list 451 may be selectable or clickable, or may be hovered upon, thereby causing an extended information panel (e.g., similar to panel 432) to be opened and display the extended social information for the selected passengers.

[0055] Seat map updater 155 may be responsible for creating and updating a seat map for each particular flight, the seat map being stored in seat map database 154. The seat map may include augmented information (e.g., social information) of passengers on each such particular flight, information obtained from social network 104, and/or information regarding seat occupancy (associated with a user-related token) received from airline/OTA system 103.

[0056] Ranking module 138 may execute a pre-programmed ranking algorithm that, given a current user who browses for flights or selected a flight, and given a list of passengers on a flight who consented to share their social information, may rank such passengers in a particular order. Ranking module may include one or more sub-modules, for example, a social relevance score calculator 139, a common traits identifier 140, a weight allocator 141 , and a self-learning algorithm updater 142.

[0057] Social relevance score calculator 139 may calculate a social relevance score per each one of the passengers relative to the browsing user. The social relevance score may be used for one or more purposes, for example, for ordering of the passenger list displayed to the browsing user, for suggesting a seat-mate or a flight neighbor to the browsing user, for suggesting to the browsing user one or more passengers as potential acquaintances or as candidates for befriending, or the like.

[0058] Common traits identifier 140 may search for and identify common traits between the browsing user and fellow passengers. A common trait may be, for example, attending the same high school or college or university or other educational institution; working in the present or in the past for the same employer; living now or in the past in the same town or city or state or country; having a common age (e.g., 37) or age-group (e.g., 36 to 40); having a common profession (e.g., patent attorney, or Cobol programmer); having a common hobby or interest; having performed a "like" operation to a common entity or item; or other suitable traits.

[0059] Weight allocator 141 may allocate different weights to various traits, or may increase the social relevance score multiple times if the common trait repeats. For example, given the current user and a passenger on the same flight, the ranking algorithm may identify similar traits between the two passengers; a social relevance score may be updated, such that each trait holds a weight, and for each common trait the relevancy score may be increased by the weight associated with that trait. For example, if the two users have three common friends and the two users also attended the same university, then the social relevance score may be calculated as: three times the weight for a common friend, plus one time the weight for a common university. Weights may differ among traits; for example, having a common friend may have a weight of five, whereas attending the same university may have a weight of two. Other suitable weights and multipliers may be used.

[0060] Self-learning algorithm updater 141 may update or modify the ranking algorithm based on self-learning, or may update or modify the weights allocated to common traits by taking into account actions of the user. For example, the user may select a flight seat neighboring another passenger, and the ranking algorithm may compare their traits and may identify common traits. The algorithm may utilize an assumption that since the user chose to seat next to that particular passenger, the common traits may be significant. Therefore, the weight of these common traits may be increased with regard to this user, or with regard to this user and the other particular passenger. For example, the ranking algorithm may deduce that since Adam selected to seat next to Bob, and their common trait is attendance in a common college, then this trait may be significant to Adam; and in a subsequent flight of Adam, ranking of passengers may be performed by taking into account that Adam allocates a higher weight to attendance of a common college (rather than, for example, having the same age). Similar calculations may be applied to all the users on the flight. Optionally, if a user selects one flight over another flight, it may be due to the social traits of people on this flight, even ones that do not seat next to him. Therefore, common traits with all the passengers on a flight may be increased in weight, although in a smaller amount than in the case of two passengers who seat next to each other. Traits that appear in search results but were not acted upon, may have their weights decreased upon each additional iteration of the ranking algorithm.

[0061] Ranking module 138 may handle traits on two (or more) separate levels: at a level of general traits (e.g., two passengers attended the same university), and at a level of instances of traits (e.g., two passengers attended Harvard University). Each trait in each level may have its own weight, and both weights on both levels may be taken into account when calculating the social relevancy score. Optionally, more than two levels may be used; for example, a third level (e.g., two passengers attended the Law School of Harvard University), a fourth level (e.g., they both attended the law school in 2005), or the like.

[0062] The calculated social relevancy score may be a number having relative significance when compared to another social relevancy score. Optionally, the social relevancy score (or a normalized or weighted version thereof) may be displayed to the user; for example, the social relevance score divided by a maximum possible score may be presented, to indicate to the user the level of relevancy of other passengers.

[0063] Feedback module 153 may be used for gathering or obtaining feedback from passengers after they completed a flight (e.g., the flight itself, rather than the flight reservation process). After a user takes his flight, feedback module 153 may follow-up with the user to obtain user feedback regarding the other passengers that the user sat with or chose to sit with. Such structured feedback may then be used in the calculation of social relevance score or match scores with other users. Furthermore, feedback module 153 may allow a user to provide feedback on his own preferences as to the passengers he seats next to, and may take such feedback into account. For example, if the feedback from one or more users is that passenger Adam is good at keeping a business conversation, and user Bob states that he is interested in business conversation, then the match score between these two users may be increased. The feedback that a first user may provide on a second user may further refer to the way that the second user behaved during the flight, for example, indicating that the second user was talking excessively, was noisy, was snoring, was friendly, was unfriendly, had a positive or negative level of hygiene or odor, or the like.

[0064] Matching module 143 may provide to a prospective passenger recommendations for matched passengers on his flight, e.g., showing to the user the social information of "fellow passengers that may interest you" or "fellow passengers that may be the most interesting for you". Identification of matching users may be based on the social relevance score. For example, after calculating the social relevance score of all the users on a flight, a matching algorithm may choose and may display to the user the passengers having the top 3 or 5 (or other suitable number of) social relevance score, or the passengers having the top 10% of other percentile of the social relevance score. Optionally, users may be matched and displayed based on their connection levels, for example, direct friends, friends of friends or second-degree friends, third-degree friends, people with multiple common traits or interests, people with a single common trait or interest, or other suitable levels of matching.

[0065] It is noted that feedback module 143 may be able to operate bi-directionally, and may be able to send notifications to a passenger with regard to changes in the seat map of his flight. In a first example, Adam may select seat 27-D in a flight, next to seat 27-E which may be already occupied by Bob, and next to seat 27-C which may remain available. Subsequently, seat 27-C may be occupied (e.g., reserved) by Charles, and feedback module 143 may send a notification to Adam to alert him that seat 27-C next to his seat 27-D changed from available to occupied, and augmenting such notification with the social information of Charles as obtained from social network 104. Similarly, Bob may change his seat selection, and a similar notification may be sent to Adam, to alert Adam to the change in occupancy of seat 27-E, the notification including social information of the "departing" neighbor and/or of a new neighbor that took his place. In another example, Adam may request to receive hourly, daily, or weekly updates with regard to seat selection (or seat selection modification) in the entire flight and/or in particular regions of the seat map, the notification including social information of new passengers or of passengers who changed their selected seat(s). Notifications may be delivered to passengers by electronic mail, by text messages or SMS messages, by voice messages (e.g., using a text-to-speech converter), or by other suitable ways. [0066] Statistics module 171 may perform statistical analysis on data (including seat assignment and/or social information) associated with passengers on a particular flight, or on a batch or set of flights (e.g., all the instances of flight number 93 in a particular week or month; or all flights from Boston to Los Angeles in a particular day or week), and may generate statistical insights and/or statistical results, e.g., demographic insights, which may be reported to an airline or an OTA using reporting module 172. For example, reporting module 172 may allow an airline/OTA to obtain demographic insights which may be shown as text, numbers, pie-charts, graphs, or other suitable reporting elements or comparison elements. In a first example, reporting module 172 may report to airline/OTA that on a monthly basis, 78 percent of passengers from Boston to Miami are 60 years old or older; and the airline/OTA may utilize such insight, for example, for targeted advertising in magazines that cater to senior citizens in the Boston area. In a second example, reporting module may report to airline/OTA that in a certain month, 68 percent of passengers on a particular flight (e.g., morning flight from Dallas to Newark) are females; or that 55 percent of passengers in general are from a particular industry (e.g., the legal industry, or the medical industry), and such insights may again be used for targeted marketing campaigns or for other suitable purposes.

[0067] Social information merger 144 may allow ISA 102 to receive social information from multiple social networks, may merge or unify them, and may provide the aggregated information in a uniform or normalized manner. Social information merger 144 may utilize social network precedence rule(s) to resolve conflicts between social information obtained from two or more social networks. For example, a user may be connected to several social networks, as some parts of the social information about the user may be obtained from multiple social networks. When this information is singular or unique, for example, the user name or gender or age, the information from several networks may be different and may present a conflict. ISA 102 may resolve this by ordering the social networks and giving precedence to the data received from higher social networks, based on pre-defined rule(s). In a demonstrative example, a set of rules may be that Linkedln social information prevails over Facebook social information; that Linkedln social information prevails over Google Plus social information; and that Facebook social information prevails over Google Plus social information. Optionally, the rules may be available for the user to inspect, review, and/or modify; and the user may optionally be able to delete rules, add rules, or modify rules (e.g., a particular user may decide that Facebook information prevails over all other social networks information).

[0068] Privacy module 145 may ensure that privacy settings of users are respected, such that ISA 102 may not present more information than social network 104 allows according to the user's privacy settings at social network 104. However, ISA 102 may allow the user to narrow down the list of people who may view his social information on the context of ISA 102, for example, by defining user groups according to the social network semantics (e.g., Facebook "friends", Linkedln "First Degree Contacts", or the like). The user may then define which groups may or may not see his social information in a flight-related context. The configuration may be set for the entirety of the user's social information according to a network-specific group of users, e.g., as defined using a social network specific terminology (for example, a group of "friends" on Facebook, a group of "contacts" on Linkedln).

[0069] ISA 102 may connect between users in different social networks. ISA 102 may allow users to see each other based on their privacy settings, and may allow a user who is logged-in with a first social network (e.g., Facebook) to see also users from a second social network (e.g., Linkedln), as long as all such users consented to share their social information for flight-related purposes. Optionally, this may be allowed when the social network privacy settings of a user allow anonymous users to see the social information of that user on that social network, and/or when the relevant policies or settings of the social network permit sharing of social information with users who are not members of that social network and/or with users who are not logged-in into the social network.

[0070] ISA 102 may allow the user to provide information about himself on top of the information retrieved from social networks, for example, by presenting the user a form in which he can fill-in information about himself. This form may be presented immediately after signing into ISA 102 with a particular social network, and/or by accessing the ISA 102 user profile page and entering the details there. According to the social network's policy, the form may be pre- populated with details that the user provided in the social network. In the form, the user may override details that he provided on the social network and may also add details that he did not provide in the social network. The information that the user entered in this form may be displayed as part of the user's shared social information, similar to other social network information. Since the details entered in this form may differ from the details entered by the user in social networks, ISA 102 may use the network precedence mechanism or rules as described above to resolve possible conflicts. For example, data entered in the ISA 102 user information form may be treated as data obtained from an external social network; and its precedence may be predetermined (e.g., it may prevail over any other social network) or may be configured by the user..

[0071] ISA 102 may further allow sharing of information among two more airline websites, or two more OTA websites, or a combination of airline website(s) and OTA website(s). For example, some airlines may share flights between themselves (e.g., known as "code sharing") and with OTAs; and thus, ISA 102 may provide a way for such multiple clients to access and update the seating data on mutual flights. Since flight tickets may be sold in parallel by multiple clients, ISA 102 may allow placement of logged- in users on a flight even if it was done by different clients or entities or websites. For example, some users on a flight may purchase the tickets on the airline's website (e.g., United.com), whereas some users may purchase the tickets for the same flight on a first OTA website (e.g., Expedia.com), and whereas additional users may purchase the tickets for the same flight on another OTA website (e.g., Orbitz.com). Still, all these passengers may be able to see each other's images and social information, based on their privacy settings.

[0072] Optionally, ISA 102 may be associated with or may include search Application Programming Interface (API) 146, which may receive an input an airline (or carrier) identifier, a flight number identifier, and a date in which the flight is scheduled. Search API may provide output including, for example, social information and images of passengers on that flight. ISA 102 may further utilize a service (e.g., third party service) to obtain a list of flights and to allow users to choose seats in flights. Any permitted client application may utilize the search API to get the flight object and to apply to it the seating social information. The carrier and flight number may differ in the case of airline code sharing, and thus ISA 102 may utilize a mapping or a lookup table or conversion table of code sharing information.

[0073] ISA 102 may allow social information enhancements, for example, may allow a client to add social information to objects other than flights. For example, ISA 102 may be used for adding social information for hotel reservation options (e.g., in an airline website, an OTA website, or a hotel booking website). A logged-in user on an airline website may be presented with a social widget, similar to the flight seating social widget, at the area of the website dedicated for hotel reservation, notifying the user about other users who chose to book a hotel through the website. Similarly, ISA 102 or a similar social information module or application may be used to show to a user the social information and images of other users who joined the frequent flier program, of users who rented a car through the airline (or OTA) website, of users who upgraded from coach to business class, or the like. ISA 102 may achieve this by leveraging a "container" model utilized for flight social information, in which ISA 102 regards each particular flight as a container of seated users. A similar model may apply to other object(s) in an airline or OTA website. For example, ISA 102 may treat the hotel reservation option as a container of users who book rooms in a particular hotel for a particular date. The container may be initiated by the airline or OTA website and may be populated by users who make their hotel reservation through such website. Once a new logged-in user views this section, he may view this information in the same way he would view the social information of other passengers in a flight.

[0074] In some embodiments of the present invention, social information corresponding to two or more passengers of a particular flight may be obtained "in bulk" or as a batch, by utilizing a single query (rather than by using multiple queries) which identifies the flight (e.g., identifying the airline, a flight number, and a flight date). The query may not identify by his real name or by other real-life identifier (e.g., passport number) or even by a virtual name (e.g., a social network nickname or username) any passenger(s) on said flight. The social information may be obtained in bulk from a source external to an airline/OTA system or website, rather than by building or creating from the ground up, within the airline/OTA system, a list of passengers on a flight while associating between a real-life name and a social-network-nickname of each passenger.

[0075] Although portions of the discussion herein may relate, for demonstrative purposes, to sharing of social information among users who book a flight on an airplane, the present invention may be utilized in conjunction with other industries or applications, for example, sharing of social information among users who book a cruise on a boat (e.g., on Carnival Cruise), sharing of social information among users who book a hotel reservation (e.g., on Hilton) or at a vacation resort (e.g., Club Med), sharing of social information among users who book a vehicular trip (e.g., Greyhound) or a train grip (e.g., Amtrac), sharing of social information among users who book a reservation or purchase ticket(s) for a sporting event or a theater show or a movie, sharing of social information among users who reserve a place at a restaurant or bar, or the like. [0076] The term "social network" as used herein may include, for example, a website or an Internet-based service which allows users to create and maintain a personal profile or personal page, to befriend or to "like" or to "follow" other users, to share textual and/or graphical information with other users, to perform blogging or micro-blogging activities, or the like. Demonstrative social networks may include, for example, Facebook, Linkedln, Twitter, Google Plus, Pinterest, or the like.

[0077] The term "social information" as used herein may include one or more information items or data items, which may be textual and/or graphical, and which may typically be found on a user profile or a user page at a social network. Social information may include, for example, an image or photograph of a user, a gender, an age, an age group, a profession, an occupation, a current employer, a past employer, a school or college or university attended by the user, a hobby or interest of the user, a city or state or country in which the user lives or originates, a marital status or family status of a user, data indicating which other users or entities a particular user "liked" or "followed" or "befriended" in a social network, or the like.

[0078] The terms "passenger" or "traveler" or "user" as used herein may include, for example, a person who reserved a flight or a trip; a person who intends to reserve a flight or a trip; a person who is browsing for flights or trips; a person who is searching for flights or trips; a user of an airline website; a user of an OTA website; a person who booked a flight or trip but did not yet choose a seat; a person who booked a flight or trip and already selected a seat; a prospective passenger; a person who considers being a passenger; a person who intends to be a passenger; a person who purchased a flight ticket; a person who purchased a flight ticket, or is in the process of purchasing a flight ticket, and is performing seat selection or online seat selection; a person who is in the process of performing a check-in or an online check-in; a person who is in the process of obtaining or printing a boarding pass for a flight; a person who is modifying a previously-selected seat or a previously-assigned seat; or the like. The terms "traveler", "passenger" and "user" may be used interchangeably herein.

[0079] The term "social widget" as used herein may include, for example, a widget or application or applet or program, which may be associated with one or more social networks, and/or may be able to access information on a social network or on ISA 102, and/or may be operable in conjunction with a social network or with ISA 102, and/or may obtain or receive input from a social network or from a user's profile or user's page on a social network or from ISA 102, and/or may generate output usable through or on a social network or on ISA 102, and/or may generate output which incorporates social information of users of a social network.

[0080] The terms "mock social widget" or "mock widget" as used herein may include, for example, a fake or pretend or artificial or non-working or non-operational social widget; a partially-working or partially-operational social widget; a social widget in which one or more features are operational and one or more other features are not operational; an image or animation of a social widget; a graphical or textual element which resembles a fully-working social widget; or other suitable component or widget or interface element that may be used to encourage or elicit or attract a user to log-in to the service in order to see an actual (or fully- working, or non-fake) social widget with real data and/or full data.

[0081] Although portions of the discussion herein may relate, for demonstrative purposes, to sharing of social information among users who book a flight on an airplane, and for seat selection by prospective passengers on a particular flight based on social media information shared by fellow passengers, the present invention may be utilized in conjunction with other industries or applications, for example, with regard to seat selection at various other venues or events (e.g., a sporting event in a stadium or an arena or a sporting venue); selection of an apartment or a room in a hotel, or in a rental apartment building, or in a building in which rooms or apartments are available for rent or for purchase; selection of a car rental company, or a car rental agency or location, or a particular vehicle for rental, based on social network information of other renters; and/or other suitable scenarios as further demonstrated herein.

[0082] The present invention may be utilized in the travel industry, for example, for seat selection by prospective of passengers on a particular flight, based on social network information of other prospective passengers on that flight. For example, a seat selection screen on a website (or application) for flight seat selection, may include images and/or other social data of fellow prospective passengers on such flight, optionally showing also or indicating the particular seat selected by each such prospective passenger (e.g., as images on a seat-map or seating-chart), and a prospective passenger may take this information into account when selecting his flight seat for that flight.

[0083] The present invention may be utilized in the hotel or lodging industry, for example, for hotel selection and/or room selection by prospective of travelers who intend to book or reserve a room in a particular hotel or in a particular geographical location. For example, a user who considers to reserve a room at a particular hotel, may be shown social media information (optionally including images) of other persons who reserved a room at that hotel for desired date(s). In another example, a user may be shown hotel search results, indicating social media information (optionally including images) of other persons who reserved a room at each one of the hotel search results, for the desired date(s). Optionally, additional data may be shown to the user, for example, for how many nights each such fellow user reserved his room; which type of room (and which optional amenities) each such fellow user reserved; or the like. This information may assist the user in selecting a hotel for reserving a room; for supporting a user's decision whether or not to reserve a room in a particular hotel (e.g., by taking into account gender or age-group of other users, or other social media information of such users who reserved a room there), by assisting the user to decide which type of room or which additional amenities to reserve (e.g., based on popular selections by other users who shared their social media information), or the like. In another demonstrative example, the user may find out in advance that in a first hotel, most or many of the guests are expected to be professionals from a particular industry (e.g., attending a professional conference or trade-show); whereas in a second hotel, most or many of the guests are expected to be young persons who are fans of a music band (e.g., attending a music concert of that band in the vicinity of the hotel). In another demonstrative example, optionally, the platform may further be used in order to assist a user to choose or to request a particular floor or region or wing in the hotel, if such information is indicated to the user with regard to rooms selected by other users who reserved a room in that hotel and agreed to share their social media information.

[0084] The present invention may be utilized in the car rental industry (or, similarly, in the car purchase industry, or in conjunction with car dealerships). For example, a user may go online to request rental car price quotes from multiple car rental companies in a particular geographic locations; and the search results may include, for example, car rental company names (e.g., Avis and Hertz), price quotes for one or more vehicle classes, and social media information of fellow users who also reserved a rental vehicle from such agencies or companies in that geographic location, in the past (e.g., historical rental transactions that took place already) and/or in the future (e.g., car rental reservations that were booked by fellow users for future time, and optionally, for the same date or date-range that the current user is searching for). Optionally, the user may further view which cars, or vehicle classes (e.g., compact, sedan, minivan) other users selected to rent, together with the social media information (and optionally including images) of such other users at each car rental company or agency. This may assist the user in selecting a car rental company, a particular car rental agency, a particular vehicle or car class or car model or car brand, additional amenities which may be rented or purchased at a car rental agency (e.g., child safety seat; insurance coverage), and/or other information about car rentals of such other users which may be taken into account by the current user in his rental selection process. It is noted that a similar platform may be utilized in conjunction with other vehicular-related transactions, for example, leasing a car (e.g., for a period of 36 months, or other period) from a car leasing company or agency; purchasing a new car from a car manufacturer or from a car dealership; purchasing a used car or a pre-owned car, or a certified pre-owned car, from a car dealership or car vendor; purchasing car insurance from insurance agencies or insurance companies; or the like. Optionally, a similar platform may be used with regard to purchasing or renting or leasing other suitable items or transportation-related items, for example, bicycle rental, boat rental, reserving a ticket or a room in a boat or ship or ferry or cruise-ship or train or bus, or the like.

[0085] The present invention may be used in conjunction with purchasing of travel insurance, or other types of insurance (e.g., car insurance, car rental insurance, general liability insurance, home insurance, life insurance, or the like). In a demonstrative example, the user may wish to purchase travel insurance associated with a planned trip to a particular city or country or region, and may request online price quotes. The search results may optionally include social media information of fellow travelers, who travelled or will travel to the same area, optionally including their images, and optionally showing which type(s) of travel insurance they purchased, and/or other suitable information (e.g., optional additional coverage). The current user may take this into account when determining which type of insurance, or which scope of insurance, to purchase for his own trip. As mentioned, the platform may further be utilized in conjunction with other types of insurance; for example, a user may request price quotes for home insurance in a particular town, and may view search results that include social media information of neighboring users who purchased home insurance, together with the type or details of the insurance that they purchased (e.g., scope or type of insurance, but not necessarily disclosing confidential or semi-confidential information, such as the exact insurance amount or the exact deductible amount). [0086] In a demonstrative platform which may be used in the travel industry, the platform may further allow a user to view social media information of fellow users with regards to: (a) frequent flyer programs (e.g., indicating which one(s) of fellow travelers joined a frequent flyer program, of which airline, and which particular type of program); (b) optional upgrades or optional requests made by fellow travelers (e.g., which particular user(s) upgraded to business-class or first-class on a flight, or requested any premium services or amenities, or made particular requests regarding meal selection), in the particular flight that the user intends to reserve, or in other future flights that fellow passengers reserved, or in past flights that the fellow passengers took already; (c) information about the relation between travelers and a destination city or state or country, for example, indicating whether fellow travelers on the same flight have visited the flight destination (city and/or state and/or country) in the past, or intend to stay there for a particular time (e.g., deduced by the platform by inspecting a follow-up flight that a fellow passenger reserved from the destination city to another city); (d) specific attractions or landmarks that fellow travelers on the flight intend to visit, or visited in previous trips to that destination or to other destinations, or intend to visit at a particular date (e.g., indicating that a fellow passenger "Adam" intends to visit "Disney World" in a particular future date because he already purchased tickets online together with booking his flight, and optionally, indicating also that this passenger has visited "Universal Studios Theme Park" in the past, based on his historical purchases or information); (e) specific tours (e.g., guided tour, organized tour) that fellow travelers intend to join in a particular location and/or in particular dates, or took already in the past in that destination or in other destinations; and/or other suitable travel-related information about past and/or future trips or travels of fellow travelers. It is noted that some of the features that the platform may optionally include, may be implemented in a way which requires users to consent to sharing of one or more types of data items with other users; for example, a traveler who reserves a flight and selects a vegetarian meal or a Kosher meal, may consent to sharing with fellow travelers and/or with prospective travelers his meal selection (e.g., in order to attract fellow travelers, who have a similar meal preference, to seat next to him).

[0087] The present invention may be used in conjunction with seat selection, region selection, gate selection, show selection, performance selection, or other selection(s) that user may perform with regard to attending an event in a venue. The venue may be, for example, a sporting arena, a sports stadium, a theater, a movie theater, a theater for performing arts (e.g., ballet, dance) or from music shows (e.g., classical music, modern music), or the like. For example, a user may plan to attend a sporting event in a particular sporting venue (e.g., a particular stadium), on a particulate future date or in several future dates; and may view social media information of fellow users who plan to attend that event on that date (or on those dates); optionally showing images of such fellow users; and indicating a particular seating zone or seating region or gate of the venue for such fellow users. In a demonstrative example, the user may view social media information of all the users who agreed to share their information, with regard to the planned event at the selected venue; or the user may filter the results, or may request to see results, only with regard to a seating zone or a "venue gate" region (e.g., in order to view only a few dozens of results, rather than hundreds or thousands of results). This may allow the user to view in advance, who will attend a specific event (e.g., sporting event, game, show, or the like) at a particular stadium or arena or venue; and who will be seating in particular zones or regions within that venue. In a demonstrative example, the user may view social network information of other users who intend to sit in a particular zone or region or "box" or gate of the arena or venue; optionally showing also their images; and optionally showing also particular seats in a seating chart (e.g., if seats are marked in advance) or showing an aggregation of user representations associated with a particular zone or region but not necessarily connected to particular seats (e.g., if users may purchase tickets for a region but not for a particular seat).

[0088] Optionally, the platform may be integrated with a backend system or other computing system of the venue (e.g., the stadium, arena, theater, music hall, or the like), in order to allow synchronization of offline ticket purchases with the online system. For example, a user who purchased offline a ticket (for particular event, or for a series of events, or a "season pass" to some or all events or games or shows), may be able to visit an online website to connect the purchased ticket(s) with his social media profile or data, thereby adding to the online system also data derived from offline -purchased tickets. Optionally, the platform may allow interaction with patrons of the venue, who purchased ticket(s) offline or who hold a "season pass", in order to request them to reserve their seat (or seating-region) for a particular upcoming event (e.g., an upcoming game in the sporting arena). The platform may further interact with event-goers and ticket holders, inviting them to socially share their information, their ticket purchase data, their seating data, and/or other suitable data known about them (e.g., ranging from age and gender, to event-specific details or attendance of past games or shows in the same venue or in other venues).

[0089] The present invention may be used by a central ticketing agency (e.g., "TicketMaster") which aggregates sales to multiple events and/or multiple venues. For example, a user may plan to attend a music show in a particular theater; may view social network information of fellow users who also used the same centralized website for purchasing tickets to that same music show in the same particular theater on the same future date; and then, may further view past information about those users (e.g., indicating that a fellow user attended a sporting event, on a past date, in another venue, also purchased through the same central ticketing agency) and/or future information about those users (e.g., indicating that a fellow user also purchased a ticket to a ballet performance, in another venue, on another date, also purchased through the same central ticketing agency).

[0090] The system may allow tracking or determining of social influence or purchase-related activity of users. For example, the system may determine which user(s) referred the most friends (e.g., via social network sharing or other referral mechanism), which user(s) caused or influenced other persons to also purchase tickets to a particular event or venue, or the like. Optionally, such information may be used in order to incentivize users, or to selectively reward users based on their social media interaction or influence.

[0091] Optionally, the platform may include tools to enable group purchases or group buying by users. For example, the platform may suggest to the user a "deal" or a "daily deal" based on purchases that other social media users have made, or based on interests of other social media users, optionally pointing out to the user the social media information of fellow users who already participated in the offered "deal" or who signed up for it. In a demonstrative example, the platform may be used by a group-buying system or website or email list (e.g., GroupOn or LivingSocial), and may present to a user a suggested deal or promotion, together with social media information of fellow users who already signed-up or purchased the promoted item(s), or who purchased the selected item(s) or similar item(s) in a previous deal or promotion.

[0092] The platform may further be used in conjunction with tickets and/or seating for a show or a theater or other performance-related venue; for example, allowing a user to view which other social media users will be attending a particular movie or show or concert (or other event), at a particular date in the future, at a particular venue; and/or which other social media users have already attended that event (e.g., a particular Broadway show) in a particular time frame (e.g., in the past month, or, in the current year). The platform may further allow sharing of social media information among users in order to allow a user to find out which other users plan to attend, or attended in the past, a particular theater or music-hall or venue. The platform may optionally include a search engine or a fillable form with fields and drop-down menus, allowing the user to find the relevant other users by defining geographical location (e.g., Manhattan), venue (e.g., Giants Stadium), future or past date(s), event types (e.g., sporting events, music concerts), particular event data (e.g., name of the show or performing artist, name of sporting team), and/or other search criteria or filtering constraints.

[0093] The present invention may be used in conjunction with travelling by various transportation means (e.g., a bus, a train, a ship, a boat, a cruise ship, a ferry, or the like), allowing users and prospective passengers to share their social media information and to plan accordingly. For example, the platform may allow a user to view in advance, which other social network users plan to be on a particular train or bus or transportation means, going from a first point to a second point, on a particular future date, or in a particular future range of dates (e.g., next week). If the transportation means allows users to reserve a particular seat (or cabin), then, the platform may allow sharing of the seating selection (or cabin selection) among users, such that a prospective user may find out during (or after) reserving his ticket, who will be sitting and where exactly on such transportation means. Optionally, a seating chart or seat-map may be shown, incorporating images of users shown in the respective place based on their seat selection. The platform may allow searching or filtering based on a particular zone or region of the transportation means (e.g., filtering users that reserved a room or cabin on a particular deck or wing of a cruise ship). The platform may further allow users to view past or historical travel data of fellow users, for example, indicating or showing which users have already taken that transportation means in the past, in general or between these particular geographical locations.

[0094] The present invention may be utilized in the housing industry, allowing tenants and/or past tenants and/or prospective tenants to share their social information, connected with a housing element (e.g., a building, a floor of a building, a rental building, a building offering units for sale or for rent, a complex of buildings, a gated community, a neighborhood, a town or city, or the like). For example, a user may plan to rent an apartment in a rental building, and may inquire in advance to view social media information of tenants who currently live (or lived in the past, or contracted to live in the future) in that building, or who rent (or own) apartments in that building or in a particular floor or wing of that building.

[0095] The present invention may be utilized in conjunction with restaurants, cafes, eateries, bars, pubs, diners, and other suitable establishments in the food industry. For example, users who plan to visit (or who currently visit, or visited in the past) a particular establishment, may share this information together with their social networking information. Accordingly, a user who plans to visit such particular establishment, may search in advance which social media users plan to visit that establishment at the same date/time, or visited that establishment (or other establishments) in the past. Optionally, the shared information may further include particular data that the user may share about his visit (e.g., items ordered), optionally obtained from a social network website, from a photo-sharing service or network (e.g., Instagram), or entered manually by the user, or obtained from other online sources (e.g., if the user wrote a review or a Blog entry or recommendation, about a past visit in which he ordered a particular item or dish or drink in the restaurant or establishment).

[0096] The present invention may further allow users to socially share with friends, tickets and/or reservations that they made (or, they are in the process of making), either directly to other users who are friends or contacts of the user, or via a social network or other mechanism. This may allow a user to share with friends his plans, and thus implicitly invite his friends to join him to a particular trip or event, to a particular destination or venue. This may further allow or promote group buying or group purchases, for example, if a first user purchases a ticket and publishes or shares the transaction details to friends, and his friends follow by purchasing tickets or reserving seats to the same trip or event, at the same venue or vehicle, seating next to him or in his vicinity.

[0097] The platform may further allow users, who plan to attend the same trip or event or other common activity, to interact among themselves by exchanging messages, texts, photos, or the like. This may be used by users to gain advice from fellow users with regard to the common activity or event, to inquire further about the event, or the like. For example, users that go to a particular sporting event, may inquire among each other in order to arrange a carpool ride to the sporting event, or in order to consult with each other at which time to arrive to the event, or the like. [0098] The present invention may automatically generate a timeline, or a future-facing or future- oriented timeline, for a use or a customer based on his online activities, and particularly based on tickets purchased online and/or reservations made online for events and trips. The platform may automatically fill-in the data, and may automatically add images or videos. For example, if a user purchases tickets to a football game at the Giants stadium at a certain date, then the system may automatically generate a forward-looking timeline (or portions of a timeline) that include that event, listing the venue name, the venue location, the time and date of the game; determining the identity of the competing teams, and adding logos and/or photos of the competing teams and/or the venue itself; and optionally, adding automatically a video clip related to the future event or to the venue (e.g., a trailer clip for an upcoming movie, or other preview clip for a sporting event). These items may be automatically created and/or added to a user's timeline or profile on a social network, based on tickets and/or reservations that he purchased.

[0099] The system may further allow users to inquire regarding intermediate location(s) or activities of other users. For example, a user may query the system, indicating that the user desires to travel from a first location to a second location, and asking to locate social media friends (or users) that are located at the originating location, at the destination location, or at one or more legs or milestones along the trip (e.g., a flight connection point). Similarly, a user may desire to go to a music performance (e.g., in general, or of a particular performer), and may inquire which ones of his social media friends plans to attend a music performance of that performer, or in a particular venue, or at a particular date-range (e.g., next month) or specific date; and may optionally obtain seating information of such friends in order to select a seat in proximity to them.

[00100] Optionally, the platform may utilize a dedicated application ("app") which may run on a smartphone or tablet or mobile electronic device, which may allow real-time interaction among users who attend the same event or trip, and who agreed to share this information. Such communications may be via text messages, multimedia messages, voice, electronic mail, video chat, or other suitable ways, and may take place in real time during the event or trip, or before or after such event or trip. The dedicated mobile application may further provide augmented reality features, for example, allowing a user to aim a camera of his smartphone or tablet towards a seat in a stadium, and the system may determine the identity of the person in that seat (e.g., by using image processing and/or computer vision to detect what the portable device is looking at; by detecting a seat number imprinted on the seat itself, and correlating between the seat number and data indicating seat selection by users who agreed to share seating information with social media users; by using a combination of GPS location, compass and/or gyroscopes to determine what seat the camera of the smartphone is looking at; or by using any other suitable mechanism, sensor or logic to determine the geo-spatial location of the device and/or the identity of the person or object or seat that the camera of the device is pointing to).

[00101] Applicants have realized that in some systems, it may require a relatively long period of time (e.g., weeks, months, or even years) until the platform accumulates sufficient data of historical transactions, in order to advise a prospective traveler that one or more social network friends of his have stayed in a particular hotel (or visited a particular landmark) in the past. This may be achieved, for example, by accumulating and mining historical transactions that were performed by users while they were logged-in to a reservation system that utilizes social networking credentials for login. Alternatively, and in order to speed-up the availability of such data to fellow users, the platform may use other data in order to correlate between geo- spatial locations (e.g., a hotel, a stadium, a landmark) and a particular user. In a demonstrative example, the platform may determine that a user who performed a "check in" operation (e.g., by using Foursquare check-in or Facebook check-in) at a particular location, has probably visited that location (or, for example, stayed at that hotel if the location is a hotel), and the platform may thus augment its own database with the check-in information, as if the user has actually reserved that hotel (or, has reserved tickets to that landmark or venue) through the platform. In another demonstrative example, the platform may determine that if a user published a review or a rating to a geo-spatial location (e.g., a hotel, a venue, a landmark), on a suitable site (e.g., TripAdvisor, or a blog) then the user has probably visited that location; and the platform may augment its database with such information. Accordingly, the platform may "inject" into its database, or may selectively import into its database, location-related data that users published online, not necessarily while they were using the platform for purchasing tickets of for placing reservations. The present invention may thus include a combination of check-in data and other location-related data from multiple sources, not necessarily tied to placing an order or purchase or reservation; and turning such data into a data-source stream, which may be used as an alternative or augmented history of the social seating/booking platform of the present invention. [00102] In some embodiments, the user may be shown information that the system may obtain by internal analysis of data and/or by taking into account external data sources and/or data feeds. For example, the system may show to a user who (or which of the user's friends; or, which of the user's friends-of-friends; or the like) had stayed in the past at a desired hotel (or at other event-of- interest or other venue-of-interest), based on data from the system's own database; and the system may further show to the user, who (or which of the user's friends, or which of the user's friends-or- friends, or the like) had been in the geographic region in proximity to the hotel-of-interest (or other venue-of-interest), for example, within a pre-defined radius or distance near such hotel or venue. The system may further show to the user additional relevant data that may be obtained from users who are socially connected to the user (directly, or indirectly as friends-of-friends) who is now making the reservation. The system may ensure that the most relevant and valuable information is computed and/or displayed in the social widget, or is otherwise computed and/or displayed via other components of the system. For example, if the system cannot show to the user, which of his friends (or friends-of-friends) had stayed at the hotel-of-interest, then the system may display to the user which of the user's friends (or friends- of-friends) has been, physically, in the vicinity or the geo-spatial area of the hotel-of-interest (or other venue-of-interest), e.g., by analyzing information obtained from social network(s) (e.g., optionally utilizing Facebook social graph). The system may further obtain and display other relevant data; for example, the system may obtain or pull image(s) of personnel (e.g., concierge, doorman, front-desk clerk) of the hotel-of-interest (or other venue-of-interest), and such images may be shown in or via the social widget (or via other components of the system) to the user who is in the process of reserving a room at that hotel (or, in the process of booking an event in an event-of-interest). Additionally or alternatively, for example, the system may pull or obtain data from a reviews website (e.g., TripAdvisor.com), and may show in or via the social widget data or via other system components (e.g., showing textual comments, venue images, user images) obtained from such reviews website; as well as showing images of user(s) who wrote a review or comment on such website(s) for that hotel-of-interest (or that venue-of-interest); as well as showing to the user images of other users who checked-in (e.g., with Foursquare or other check- in application, or obtained from Twitter) at that hotel-of-interest or at that venue-of-interest or nearby (e.g., within a pre-defined radius around that hotel or venue). Similarly, the system may be configured to obtain and show to the user the most relevant data, or, at least some social data that may be relevant to the user; such that, for example, if the system cannot find the user's friends (or friends-of-friends) on a desired flight, then the system may show to the user the images and social information of other users (friends of the user; friends-of-friends of the user; or even strangers that agreed to share their social information) who intend to visit the destination city on the same date that the current user intends to visit it. Similarly, if the system cannot find users (e.g., friends of the user; or friends-of-friends of the user) who intend to attend an event-of- interest or a venue-of-interest, then the system may obtain and show social information of users (e.g., friends of the user; friends-of-friends; or strangers) that had been to any event in the same venue-of-interest, or that had been to the same type of event (e.g., a concert of the same music band) at another venue, or the like. In other implementations, the system may show to the user that some of the user's friends (or friends-of-friends) attend or attended or will attend a specific event, as the user may also be interested in such event; and furthermore, the user may have social information indicating a particular interest (e.g., a hobby, or a preferred music band), and the system may show to the user specific events that are related to that particular interest, even if none of the user's friends (or friends-of-friends) plans to attend such event(s); this may be performed, for example, by extracting and analyzing social information of the user, of the user's friends and friends-of-friends (or further remote circles of friends), or other social information extracted from social media or social networking websites or modules.

[00103] It is clarified that some implementations may utilize a social widget; whereas other implementations may not necessarily include and/or utilize such social widget. For example, an Application Programming Interface (API) may be utilized, by the system or by third parties which may connect to the system, optionally utilizing or providing a suitable User Interface (UI); and data may be pulled, obtained, extracted, analyzed and/or displayed via one or more suitable methods, system elements, or components. It is further clarified that the present invention may be implemented, for example, by utilizing an application ("app") for a smartphone or tablet or other electronic device, e.g., configured to allow a user to buy or sell or rent services, tickets, flight tickets, show tickets, hotel booking, rental rooms, rental apartments, and/or other items or services via a mobile application, and not necessarily through a website.

[00104] Discussions herein utilizing terms such as, for example, "processing,"

"computing," "calculating," "determining," "establishing", "analyzing", "checking", or the like, may refer to operation(s) and/or process(es) of a computer, a computing platform, a computing system, or other electronic computing device, that manipulate and/or transform data represented as physical (e.g., electronic) quantities within registers and/or memories into other data similarly represented as physical quantities within registers and/or memories or other information storage medium that may store instructions to perform operations and/or processes.

[00105] Some embodiments may take the form of an entirely hardware embodiment, an entirely software embodiment, or an embodiment including both hardware and software elements. Some embodiments may be implemented in software, firmware, resident software, microcode, an application which may be downloaded and/or installed by a user, an application which may run in a browser, a client-side application, a server-side application, a client-server application, or the like. Some embodiments may take the form of a computer program product accessible from a computer-usable or computer-readable medium providing program code for use by or in connection with a computer or any instruction execution system. For example, a computer-usable or computer-readable medium may be or may include any apparatus that can contain, store, communicate, propagate, or transport the program for use by or in connection with the instruction execution system or device. Some embodiments of the present invention may be implemented, for example, using a machine-readable medium or article which may store an instruction or a set of instructions that, if executed by a machine, cause the machine (e.g., a computer or an electronic device) to perform a method and/or operations described herein.

[00106] Some embodiments of the present invention may include or may utilize, for example, a processor, a central processing unit (CPU), a digital signal processor (DSP), a controller, an integrated circuit (IC), a memory unit, a storage unit, input units, output units, wired and/or wireless communication units, an operating system, and other suitable hardware components and/or software modules.

[00107] Functions, operations, components and/or features described herein with reference to one or more embodiments of the present invention, may be combined with, or may be utilized in combination with, one or more other functions, operations, components and/or features described herein with reference to one or more other embodiments of the present invention.

[00108] While certain features of the present invention have been illustrated and described herein, many modifications, substitutions, changes, and equivalents may occur to those skilled in the art. Accordingly, the claims are intended to cover all such modifications, substitutions, changes, and equivalents.

Claims

CLAIMS [00109] What is claimed is:
1. A method of sharing social information, the method comprising:
obtaining from a social network social information of passengers associated with a flight; and
presenting said social information to a prospective passenger of said flight.
2. The method of claim 1, wherein the obtaining comprises:
obtaining from the social network in bulk social information of at least two passengers associated with a flight.
3. The method of claim 1, wherein the obtaining comprises:
sending a query which includes an identifier of said flight, and which excludes any identifier of any passenger on said flight.
4. The method of claim 3, wherein the obtaining comprises:
in response to a single query identifying only a particular flight, obtaining a batch of social information items of at least two passengers on said particular flight.
5. The method of claim 1, wherein the presenting comprises:
presenting a seating map for said flight indicating available seats and occupied seats; and for at least one occupied seat, presenting social information of a passenger occupying said occupied seat.
6. The method of claim 1, comprising:
calculating a social relevance score for each one of said passengers associated with said flight; and
ranking said passengers based on said social relevance score.
7. The method of claim 3, wherein calculating the social relevance score comprises:
identifying common traits among passengers of said flight.
8. The method of claim 4, comprising:
allocating a first weight to a first common trait of a pair of passengers, and allocating a second, different, weight to a second common trait of said pair of passengers.
9. The method of claim 3, comprising:
based on said ranking, matching between a first passenger of said flight, and one or more other passengers-of-interest to said first passenger.
10. The method of claim 1, comprising:
receiving flight identification data from a flight booking system;
obtaining social information of passengers for said flight;
serving to said flight booking system said social information.
11. The method of claim 1 , comprising:
establishing a first instance of Oauth protocol with a social network, comprising: assigning to the social network a role of a server, and assigning to an intermediate module a role of a client; and
establishing a second, separate, instance of OAuth protocol with a flight booking system, comprising: assigning to the intermediate module a role of a server, and assigning to the flight booking system a role of a client.
12. The method of claim 1 , comprising:
displaying a flight search result page which comprises: identifiers of one or more flights, and social information of passengers in each one of said one or more flights.
13. The method of claim 1 , comprising:
presenting a seating map for said flight indicating available seats and occupied seats; and presenting near the seating map a social widget for displaying social information of passengers in said flight.
14. The method of claim 1 , comprising:
presenting a mock widget to elicit a user to log-in into a service which permits said user to share social information with other passengers on said flight.
15. The method of claim 1 , comprising:
displaying a seat map of said flight, the seat map indicating which one or more seats are available and which one or more seats are reserved; and
upon a user pointing at a reserved seat on said seat map, displaying social information of a passenger that reserved said seat.
16. The method of claim 1 , comprising:
displaying a seat map of said flight, the seat map indicating which one or more seats are available and which one or more seats are reserved; and
for at least one seat that is reserved, displaying at a location of said seat in the seat map an image of a passenger that reserved said seat.
17. The method of claim 1, wherein obtaining comprises:
obtaining social information of at least a first passenger and a second passenger on said flight, wherein the first passenger is a passenger who booked the flight through a website of an airline that operates said flight, and wherein the second passenger is a passenger who booked the flight through a website external to the website of said airline that operates said flight.
18. The method of claim 1 , comprising:
suggesting to said prospective passenger a seat in said flight, based on one or more common traits identified by matching between social information of said prospective passenger and social information of other one or more passengers on said flights.
19. The method of claim 1, wherein the suggesting comprises:
taking into account a feedback received from said prospective passenger regarding a previously-performed seat selection that was based on social information in a previous flight.
20. The method of claim 1 , comprising:
sending to said prospective passenger a notification indicating a change in seating assignment of another passenger on said flight, the notification indicating a seat of said other passenger on said flight and further including social network information of said other passenger.
21. The method of claim 1 , comprising:
obtaining from a social network social information of participants associated with a future event in a venue; and
presenting said social information to a prospective participant of said future event in said venue.
22. The method of claim 1 , comprising:
obtaining from a social network social information of users that are associated with a business activity at a defined venue,
wherein the business activity comprises an activity selected from the group consisting of: renting a vehicle, renting a housing unit, purchasing a vehicle, purchasing a housing unit; presenting said social information to a prospective participant in said business activity at the defined venue.
PCT/IB2013/059973 2012-11-08 2013-11-07 Device, system, and method of sharing social network information WO2014072931A1 (en)

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