WO2016005799A1 - Social networking system and method - Google Patents

Social networking system and method Download PDF

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Publication number
WO2016005799A1
WO2016005799A1 PCT/IB2014/066277 IB2014066277W WO2016005799A1 WO 2016005799 A1 WO2016005799 A1 WO 2016005799A1 IB 2014066277 W IB2014066277 W IB 2014066277W WO 2016005799 A1 WO2016005799 A1 WO 2016005799A1
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WO
WIPO (PCT)
Prior art keywords
user
content
post
method according
geographical location
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/IB2014/066277
Other languages
French (fr)
Inventor
Shawn-Pierre HAMMAN
Michael Hendry
Karl Antony LAIRD
Lloyd PHILLIPS
Original Assignee
Yellow Pages Group Limited
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date
Priority to NZ627400 priority Critical
Priority to NZ62740014 priority
Priority to NZ63155414 priority
Priority to NZ631554 priority
Application filed by Yellow Pages Group Limited filed Critical Yellow Pages Group Limited
Publication of WO2016005799A1 publication Critical patent/WO2016005799A1/en

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Classifications

    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63FCARD, BOARD, OR ROULETTE GAMES; INDOOR GAMES USING SMALL MOVING PLAYING BODIES; VIDEO GAMES; GAMES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • A63F13/00Video games, i.e. games using an electronically generated display having two or more dimensions
    • A63F13/20Input arrangements for video game devices
    • A63F13/21Input arrangements for video game devices characterised by their sensors, purposes or types
    • A63F13/216Input arrangements for video game devices characterised by their sensors, purposes or types using geographical information, e.g. location of the game device or player using GPS
    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06FELECTRIC DIGITAL DATA PROCESSING
    • G06F16/00Information retrieval; Database structures therefor; File system structures therefor
    • G06F16/20Information retrieval; Database structures therefor; File system structures therefor of structured data, e.g. relational data
    • G06F16/29Geographical information databases
    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06FELECTRIC DIGITAL DATA PROCESSING
    • G06F16/00Information retrieval; Database structures therefor; File system structures therefor
    • G06F16/90Details of database functions independent of the retrieved data types
    • G06F16/95Retrieval from the web
    • G06F16/953Querying, e.g. by the use of web search engines
    • G06F16/9535Search customisation based on user profiles and personalisation

Abstract

A method for sharing and displaying user content in a social networking system for a user on a programmable user device. The method retrieves the geographical location of the user device and generates a user geographical location identifier 5 based on the retrieved geographical location. The user geographical location identifier is then forwarded to a remote server. The remote server sends user content to the user device based on the received user geographical location identifier. The user device displays the received user content to the user in various content views, wherein in at least one of the content views the user content is 10 displayed in augmented reality. The user is able to interact with the user content displayed on the user device.

Description

SOCIAL NETWORKING SYSTEM AND METHOD

FIELD OF THE INVENTION The invention relates to a social networking system for sharing interactive user content.

BACKGROUND TO THE INVENTION Social networking systems such as those provided by Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google have become an important part of people's everyday lives. Social networking systems allow users of the systems to share multimedia contents viewable by the general public or by a user selected group of people. The users of such social networking systems gain certain social experiences from engaging in interactive activities with other users via the internet. The user interfaces offered by the companies listed above provide a channel for the users to create, view, and share such multimedia user contents.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is an object of the present invention to provide an alternative location based social networking system for sharing interactive user content.

In a first aspect, the invention broadly consists in a method for sharing and displaying user content in a social networking system for a user on a programmable user device, the method comprising :

retrieving the geographical location of the user device,

generating a user geographical location identifier based on the retrieved geographical location,

forwarding the user geographical location identifier to a remote server,

receiving user content from the remote server based on the user geographical location identifier,

displaying the received user content to the user in various content views, wherein in at least one of the content views the user content is displayed in augmented reality, and

enabling the user to interact with the user content displayed on the user device. In one configuration, the user content is interactive and preferably in the form of one or more interactive digital posts such as, but not limited to, 'tags'.

Preferably a post is data comprising at least a main body which carries multimedia information for rendering, displaying and/or playing such as graphical, audio, video, and/or text content. A post may be created by a user, or by a system administrator.

Preferably each post comprises an associated post geographical location identifier, generally indicative of where the post is created or where the post should be located. The post geographical location identifier can be considered as the 'virtual location' of the post, i.e. where the digital post is geographically located in the real- world, but it can only be viewed at that location via a user device. The post may also optionally comprise data representing user interaction with the post for example from subsequent user comments or new linked posts or data indicative of the number of user views of the post.

In one configuration, receiving user content from the remote server based on the user geographical location identifier comprises receiving user content that satisfies a configurable location rule based on the user geographical location identifier. In another configuration, displaying the received user content to the user in various content views comprises only displaying received user content that satisfies a configurable location rule based on the user geographical location identifier.

In one form, the configurable location rule defines a catchment region relative to the user's current or real-time location as indicated by the user geographical location identifier, and the method comprises receiving user content comprising posts having associated post geographical location identifiers that fall within the catchment region. In one example, the catchment region is a circular region having a boundary defined by a configurable radius parameter centered about the user's current location indicated by the user geographical location identifier.

In one form, the size and/or shape of the catchment region relative to the user's current location is configured by a system administrator or settings in the remote server. In another form, the size and/or shape of the catchment region may be defined by one or more variable parameters associated with one or more factors selected from: the number of posts created by that user, the amount of interaction the user initiates in the system within a certain period, the length of time the user has been a registered user of the system, and any other suitable factors. In yet another form, the size and/or shape of the catchment region may be configured by the user operable settings.

In a preferred embodiment, the radius parameter defining the circular catchment region is about 500 meters, or about 400 meters, or about 300 meters, 200 meters, 100 meters, or about 50 meters.

In one form, the programmable user device may comprise:

input means for creating user content and for enabling the user to interact with the user content,

a location unit for determining a geographical location of the user device, a communication module that is operable to transmit to and receive data from the remote server over a data communication link or network, and

a central processing unit for processing user content data and for rendering content views for the user. In one form, the programmable user device may comprise a portable electronic device, such as a smart phone, tablet, or PDA. In another form, the user device may comprise a wearable computer or electronic device such as, but not limited to, a Google Glass wearable computer or other device with an optical head-mounted display.

Preferably the input means comprises one or more of the following : a camera for capturing an image, a video and/or audio recorder for recording video and/or audio, text input means for entering text, or the like. In an embodiment, the method further comprises enabling the user to create and transmit user content on their programmable user device to the remote server for sharing. In one configuration, the method is provided by an application program executed on the programmable user device, and wherein the steps of receiving user content from the remote server for display and interaction, and transmitting user content to the remote server for sharing, is enabled by the single application program. In one configuration, retrieving the geographical location of the user device comprises retrieving the geographical location from the location unit of the user device. The location unit may be configured to determine the geographical location based on one or more sensors of the user device and/or inputs. In one form, the location unit may comprise a GPS module of the user device. In other examples, the location module may be configured to determine, e.g. calculate, the device's location based on settings of the user device such as the IP address of the user device, or based on cell tower triangulation, or any other one or more location determining processes, alone or in combination.

In another example, the location unit may determine the geographical location of the user device based on interaction with an indoor and/or outdoor proximity system comprising transmitting beacons located in various fixed positions within the environment. In this example, the location unit is configured to detect a beacon or beacons in close proximity to the user device and receive beacon data from which the location of the user device can be determined. In one form, the beacon data may comprise beacon identifier, and the location unit can query an external database for the location corresponding to the beacon identifier. In another form, the beacon data may comprise the beacon's location.

In one configuration, generating a user geographical location identifier based on the geographical location comprises generating or extracting data indicative of the geographical location of the user device, such as latitude and longitude co-ordinates or GPS co-ordinates.

In one form, the user geographical location identifier may further comprise data indicative of the altitude of the user device.

In one form, the user device may further comprise one or more sensors for determining the direction the user device is facing and/or its orientation, and generating representative direction and/or orientation data. For example, in one configuration the user device may comprise:

a direction sensor, such a compass sensor or magnetometer, for generating data indicative of the direction the user device is facing, and/or a tilt sensor, such as an accelerometer and/or gyro, for generating data indicative of the orientation of the user device.

In one configuration, displaying the received user content to the user in various content views comprises only displaying a portion of the received user content that satisfies a configurable display rule based on data indicative of the direction and/or orientation of the user device. For example, the display rule may determine that only user content having an associated post geographical location identifier that falls within a field of view defined relative to the current direction and/or orientation of the user device is displayed.

In one form, forwarding the user geographical location identifier comprises periodically forwarding an updated user geographical location identifier to the remote server at regular intervals. In another form, forwarding the user geographical identifier comprises forwarding an updated user geographical identifier to the remote server upon receiving a request from the remote server. In yet another form, the method comprises forwarding an updated user geographical location identifier to the remote server at each new data exchange with the remote server, whether adhoc or regular, e.g. every time the user programmable device transmits data to and/or receives data from the remote server. In yet another form, the method comprises forwarding an updated user geographical location identifier to the remote server upon detection of the location of the user device changing, such that the server is constantly updated with the real-time location of the user device. In yet another form, the method comprises forwarding an updated user geographical location identifier to the remote server upon detection of movement of the user device beyond a movement threshold. For example, the method may comprise forwarding an updated user geographical location identifier to the remote server every time the user device moves more than a configurable distance (movement threshold) from the current location, such as 5m from the current location.

In one configuration, the content views comprises an augmented reality view ('AR view', or a 'map view', or in any suitable other format the user may desire to have. In one form, displaying the received user content to the user in an AR view comprises displaying a real-time camera view of the environment captured by a camera onboard the user device and the received user content from the server as a superimposed overlay on top of the real-time camera view. In another form, displaying the received user content to the user in an AR view comprises projecting the user content onto a transparent screen in front of the user's eyes that is part of or operatively connected to the user device. In one example, the screen may be wearable glasses or lens, such as Google Glass.

In one form, displaying the received user content in a map view comprises displaying an electronic map of a geographic area associated or centered about the retrieved geographical location of the user device and the user content as an overlay on the electronic map.

In one embodiment, displaying the received user content comprises displaying posts as interactive thumbnails at a location in the AR view or map view that corresponds to the respective post geographical location identifier. In one configuration, the method may comprise arranging the display of the thumbnails using a de-cluttering algorithm.

In one configuration, displaying the received user content further comprises displaying user content based on one or more configurable display settings. In one form, the configurable display settings may determine a threshold for the number of posts to display at any one time. For example, the display settings may dictate to display a maximum number of 20 posts, 30 posts, or 40 posts, or 50 posts or any other desired number. Additionally or alternatively, the configurable display settings may determine one or more filter settings that filter or rank the received user content for display based, by way of example only, any one or more of the following criteria : time of creation of the posts (i.e. 'currency'), amount and level of user interaction (i.e. 'popularity'), minimum distance between the posts, and any other suitable criteria. In one form, the method comprises enabling the user to interact with the displayed user content only in the AR view. In another form, the method comprises enabling the user to interact with the displayed content in either the AR view or map view.

By way of example, user interaction with content may comprise, but is not limited, to: viewing the post, commenting on the post, re-posting the post, adding additional user content to the post, commenting on comments left by other users, editing the post, visiting a link which leads the user to an associated web page and the like.

In an embodiment, displaying the received user content comprises displaying received user content in accordance with configurable game settings. In one example, the received user content may comprise a post or posts from a set of ordered game posts that are configured to be viewed in a sequential or predetermined order as determined by game settings, each game post having a configured post geographical location identifier that determines where the game post is viewable, or the 'virtual location' of the game post. In this example, the method comprises displaying each game post or posts from the set of game posts only if the game settings are met by the user. In one form, the game settings may dictate the that the user must interact with each game post before being able to access or view the next game post in the set of game posts. The level of interaction required to unlock or view the next game post in the sequence may be varied based on the game settings from simply viewing or commenting on the game post to solving a puzzle or question in the post, for example. In this example, the set of game posts are typically created by a system administrator or single user, and the post geographical identifier associated with each game post is artificially created, such that the post does not need to be uploaded into the system by a user device located at the physical location of the post.

In a second aspect, the invention broadly consists in a programmable user device having a processor or processors that are configured to execute computer-readable instructions to execute the method of the first aspect of the invention for sharing and displaying user content in a social networking system.

In one form, the programmable user device may comprise:

input means for creating user content and for enabling the user to interact with the user content,

a location unit for determining a geographical location of the user device, a communication module that is operable to transmit to and receive data from the remote server over a data communication link or network, and

a central processing unit for processing user content data and for rendering content views for the user. In one form, the programmable user device may comprise a portable electronic device, such as a smart phone, tablet, or PDA. In another form, the user device may comprise a wearable computer or electronic device such as, but not limited to, Google Glass or head-mounted electronic display.

Preferably the input means comprises one or more of the following : a camera for capturing an image, a video and/or audio recorder for recording video and/or audio, text input means for entering text, or the like. In a third aspect, the invention broadly consists in a computer-readable medium having stored thereon computer executable instructions that, when executed on a processing device or devices, cause the processing device to perform the method of the first aspect of the invention for sharing and displaying user content a social networking system.

In one form, the computer executable instructions are in the form of a user application. The user application may be stored in memory associated with or assessable by the processing device. In one form, the user application comprises:

an input module for creating user content,

a location module for generating a geographical location identifier indicative of the physical location and/or orientation of the user device,

a content processing module and a display module for rendering various content views for a user, wherein at least one of the content view is an augmented reality view,

a communication module for transmitting and receiving information from the server and/or other user devices. The second and third aspects of the invention may have any one or more of the features mentioned in respect of the first aspect of the invention.

In a fourth aspect, the invention broadly consists in a method for sharing and displaying user content in a social networking system, the method comprising : receiving user content from one or more users via programmable user devices operated by the users,

storing the user content in a local or remote database, receiving a request for content comprising a user geographical location identifier from a user device, the geographical location identifier representing the location of the user device,

retrieving stored user content that satisfies a configurable location rule based on the received geographical location identifier in the request, and

transmitting retrieved user content that satisfies the configurable location rule to the user device to be displayed in various content views, wherein at least one of the content views is an augmented reality view. In an embodiment, the users are registered users of the social networking system.

In one configuration, the user content is preferably in the form of one or more interactive digital posts such as, but not limited to, 'tags'. Preferably a post is data comprising at least a main body which carries multimedia information such as graphic, audio, video, ad/or text content. A post may be created by a user, or by a system administrator.

Preferably the post comprises an associated post geographical location identifier, generally indicative of where the post is created or where the post should be located.

In one form, the location rule defines a catchment region relative to the user geographical location identifier, and the method comprises retrieving stored user content comprising posts having associated post geographical location identifiers that fall within the catchment region. In one example, the catchment region is a circular region having a boundary defined by a configurable radius parameter centered about the location represented by the user geographical location identifier. In one form, the size and/or shape of the catchment region relative to the user geographical location identifier is configured by a system administrator. In another form, the size and/or shape of the catchment region may be defined by one or more variable parameters associated with one or more factors such as the number of posts created by that user, the amount of interaction the user had for a certain period, the length of time the user has been a registered user of the system, and any other suitable factors. In yet another form, the size and/or shape of the catchment region may be configured by user operable settings which are received with the request for user content from the user device.

In a preferred embodiment, the radius parameter defining the circular catchment region is about 500 meters, or about 400 meters, or about 300 meters, 200 meters, 100 meters, or about 50 meters.

In an embodiment, the method comprises storing sent data indicative of the retrieved user content previously transmitted to a user device. In one configuration, the method further comprises retrieving and transmitting to the user device only new user content not previously transmitted to the user device based on the stored sent data. For example, such user content may be part of a new or partially overlapping catchment region if the user has moved location, and/or may be new user content created since the previous request for user content.

In an embodiment, the method further comprises storing user content comprising a set of ordered game posts that are configured to be viewed in a sequential or predetermined order as determined by game settings, each game post having a configured post geographical location identifier that determines where the game post is viewable. In this example, the method may further comprise retrieving and transmitting each post or posts from the set of game posts only in accordance with game settings. In one form, the game settings may dictate the that the user must interact with each game post before being able to access or view the next game post in the set of game posts. The method may comprise receiving interaction data indicative of interaction with the game post by the user. The level of interaction required to unlock or view the next game post in the sequence may be varied based on the game settings from simply viewing, sharing or commenting on the game post to solving a puzzle or question in the post, for example. In this example, the set of game posts are typically created by a system administrator or single user, and the post geographical identifier associated with each game post is artificially created, such that the post does not need to be uploaded into the system by a user device located at the physical location of the post.

In a fifth aspect, the invention broadly consists in a server having a processor or processors that are configured to execute computer readable instructions to execute the method of the fourth aspect of the invention for sharing and displaying user content in a social networking system. In an embodiment, the server comprises:

a storage medium for storing system data,

a central processing unit for processing system data,

a communication module operable to exchange system data with one or more programmable user devices.

The system data may comprise the user content. The system data may further comprises data indicative of registered users.

The server may comprise a display such as a computer screen to d isplay relevant information for a system administrator.

The server may also comprise various input devices such as, but not limited to, mouse, keyboard, touch screen or similar enabling the system administrator to operate the server.

The server may comprise a database or be in data communication with a remote database.

In a sixth aspect, the invention broadly consists in a computer-readable medium having stored thereon computer executable instructions that, when executed on a processing device or devices, cause the processing device to perform the method of the fourth aspect of the invention for sharing and displaying user content in a social networking system.

In one form, the computer executable instructions are in the form of a server application program. The server application program may be stored in memory associated with or accessible by the processing device or devices.

The fifth and sixth aspects of the invention may have one or more of the features mentioned in respect of the fourth aspect of the invention.

In a seventh aspect, the invention broadly consists in a method of sharing and displaying user content for a user on a user device in a social networki ng environment, the method comprising :

on a programmable user device: retrieving the geographical location of the user device,

generating a geographical location identifier based on the retrieved geographical location,

forwarding the geographical location identifier to a remote server, receiving user content from the remote server based on the user geographical location identifier,

displaying the received user content to the user in various content views, wherein in at least one of the content views the user content is displayed in augmented reality, and

enabling the user to interact with the user content displayed on their user device; and

on the remote server:

receiving user content from one or more users via programmable user devices operated by the users,

storing the user content in a local or remote database,

receiving a request for content comprising a user geographical location identifier from a user device, the geographical location identifier representing the location of the user device

retrieving stored user content that satisfies a configurable location rule based on the received geographical location identifier in the request, and

transmitting retrieved user content that satisfies the configurable location rule to the user device to be displayed in various content views, wherein at least one of the content views is an augmented reality view. In an eighth aspect, the invention broadly consists in a system for sharing and displaying user content for one or more users in a social networking system, the system comprising :

one or more programmable user devices according to the second aspect of the invention; and

a server or servers according to the fifth aspect of the invention,

the user devices being in data communication with the server(s) over a data communication link or network.

Preferably the system is configured to carry out the method according to the seventh aspect of the invention. The seventh and eighth aspects of the invention may comprise any one or more features associated with the first to the sixth aspects of the invention.

The term "comprising" as used in this specification and claims means "consisting at least in part of". When interpreting each statement in this specification and claims that includes the term "comprising", features other than that or those prefaced by the term may also be present. Related terms such as "comprise" and "comprises" are to be interpreted in the same manner. As used herein the term "and/or" means "and" or "or", or both.

As used herein "(s)" following a noun means the plural and/or singular forms of the noun. The invention consists in the foregoing and also envisages constructions of which the following gives examples only.

In this specification where reference has been made to patent specifications, other external documents, or other sources of information, this is generally for the purpose of providing a context for discussing the features of the invention. Unless specifically stated otherwise, reference to such external documents is not to be construed as an admission that such documents, or such sources of information, in any jurisdiction, are prior art, or form part of the common general knowledge in the art.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Preferred embodiments of the invention will be described by way of example only and with reference to the drawings, in which :

Figure 1 is a block overview of the system in accordance with an exemplary embodiment;

Figure 2 shows the user content being expanded by one or more registered users; Figure 3 shows an exemplary embodiment of a user application and a user device; Figure 4 shows an exemplary embodiment of a system application and a server; Figure 5 shows the user application log in page;

Figure 6 shows an exemplary map view of the user content; Figure 7 shows another exemplary map view of the user content;

Figure 8 shows an augmented reality view (AR view) of the user content;

Figure 9 shows a post being created and optionally edited,

Figure 10 shows text content being added to the main body of the post;

Figure 11 shows a preview of the post before it is sent to server and published; Figure 12 shows a published post having different main body content;

Figure 13 shows a satellite view of the user content to indicate that the post has been successfully published;

Figure 14 is another satellite view of the user content;

Figure 15 shows a page where users can interact with posts created by other registered users; and

Figure 16 shows another exemplary embodiment of the system used as an advertising or campaign tool. DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

In the following description, specific details are given to provide a thorough understanding of the embodiments. However, it will be understood by one of ordinary skill in the art that the embodiments may be practiced without these specific details. For example, software modules, functions, circuits, etc., may be shown in block diagrams in order not to obscure the embodiments in unnecessary detail. In other instances, well-known modules, structures and techniques may not be shown in detail in order not to obscure the embodiments.

Also, it is noted that the embodiments may be described as a process that is depicted as a flowchart, a flow diagram, a structure diagram, or a block diagram. Although a flowchart may describe the operations as a sequential process, many of the operations can be performed in parallel or concurrently. In addition, the order of the operations may be rearranged. A process is terminated when its operations are completed. A process may correspond to a method, a function, a procedure, a subroutine, a subprogram, etc., in a computer program. When a process corresponds to a function, its termination corresponds to a return of the function to the calling function or a main function.

Aspects of the systems and methods described below may be operable on any type of general purpose computer system or computing device, including, but not limited to, a desktop, laptop, notebook, tablet or mobile device. The term "mobile device" includes, but is not limited to, a wireless device, a mobile phone, a mobile communication device, a smart phone, a user communication device, personal digital assistant, mobile hand-held computer, a laptop computer, an electronic book reader and reading devices capable of reading electronic contents and/or other types of mobile devices typically carried by individuals and/or having some form of communication capabilities (e.g., wireless, infrared, short-range radio, etc.).

1. Overview

The invention relates to a system facilitating geographical location based user content sharing, in which the user content can be viewed in an augmented reality (AR) viewer. As is known to a skilled person, augmented reality (AR) is a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment in which elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data.

Figure 1 is a block diagram of an exemplary embodiment of the system. As shown, a plurality of users are arranged to engage in interactive social activities by using the system. The interaction may occur between users, and/or between a system administer and a plurality of users.

The system architecture may be said to broadly comprise at least a user application comprising an AR viewer for displaying user content on a user device, and a server application in data or signal communication with the user application in use, for managing the overall system operation, such as maintaining and managing the data uploaded and downloaded within the social networking system.

The system may be implemented in a social networking environment, and/or used as a marketing and advertising tool for businesses. User content

In one embodiment, the user content is provided in the form of one or more interactive digital posts such as, but not limited to, 'tags'. An exemplary post is shown in Figure 12. In one form, a post is data comprising at least a main body which carries multimedia information such as graphic, audio, video, ad/or text content for users to view and interact with; and an associated geographical location identifier which comprises location information of the post and/or the user. The post may also optionally comprise user interaction data for example from subsequent user comments or new posts or data indicative of the number of user views of the post.

In one configuration, when in the AR view, a post is only viewable by users who met a geographical location requirement, such as a configurable location rule. In one form, the location rule is that the user must be physically present in a predetermined geographical area relative to the geographical location identifier of the post. In one embodiment, the user can only see or view posts if the geographical location identifier of the posts falls within a predetermined catchment region relative to the user's current or real-time location. In one form, the catchment region is a circular region having a boundary defined by a configurable radius parameter centered about the user's current location. The configurable radius parameter may be chosen by a user via the user application, or it may be determined by a system administrator via the server application.

In one form, the catchment region is configured by the system administrator at the server. In another form, the catchment region for each user may be a variable parameter and is determined based on one or more factors such as the number of posts created by that user, the amount of interaction the user have had for a predetermined period, the length of time the user has been a registered user of the system, and any other suitable factors. In one example, a user may obtain or earn the privilege of a larger catchment region the more they interact and/or use the system.

In another configuration, a set of game posts may be created and/or arranged such that they can only be sequentially accessed (e.g. viewed) by a user in a predetermined order in accordance with game settings. In this configuration, the 'start' post is typically viewable by all users, but each subsequent post in the ordered set may only be viewable to a user if they have interacted with the previous post in the set. The type of interaction required with a post to 'unlock' the next post in the set for viewing may be configured to be one or more of various forms of interaction such as, but not limited to, merely viewing the post, commenting on the post, sharing the post, solving a puzzle or question in the post, or some other interaction with the content of the post. This above configuration may, for example, be used by businesses as a new marketing or advertising campaign tool. A system administrator or business may generate data defining a set of sequentially arranged game posts at different locations and provide information for users to locate the first or 'start' post. The first post may contain hints, guidelines, promotional offers, marketing information, or similar, which could motivate or lead the users to search or 'hu nt' for the next post or alternatively may provide directions to the next post. Once a user successfully locates the second post based on their interaction or the information they received from accessing the first post, they can then move on to the third post based on their interaction with the second post, and so on until they reach the last or 'end' post, which may for example contain a prize or coupon for redemption. In this way the businesses can provide a slightly more challenging, but also a more engaging and exciting experience for potential customers. An example of this will be explained in further detail later.

User created user content

A post may be created by a user by utilizing the user application or a user interface on a user device, in which case the user creates or selects its main body content for example by utilizing one or more input components such as keypad, camera, audio recorder, video recorder or the like equipped on the user device. Alternatively, the main body content may be retrieved from a data storage medium on the user device or an accessible cloud or other remote storage server.

In an embodiment, the geographical location identifier of the post comprises location information such as the physical location of the user device when the main body content is created. The location information may be automatically retrieved by the user application by accessing a location unit or module on the user device such as, but not limited to, a GPS module, or a location determined based on cell tower triangulation or similar in the case of a smart phone user device. Alternatively, the geographical location may be manually entered by a user.

In another embodiment, the location unit may determine the geographical location of the user device based on interaction with an indoor and/or outdoor proximity system comprising transmitting beacons located in various fixed positions within the environment. In this example, the location unit is configured to detect a beacon in close proximity to the user device and receive beacon data from which the location of the user device can be determined. In one form, the beacon data may comprise beacon identifier, and the location unit can query an external database for the location corresponding to the beacon identifier. In another form, the beacon data may comprise the beacon's location. The location unit may be for example the iBeacon unit supplied by Apple, or any other such similar proximity location units.

In a simple form, a user created digital post may comprise at least some user created and/or selected content for example a photo taken by a user, a location identifier indicating where the photo is taken, and optionally some text description of the photo.

System administrator created user content

A post may also be created by a system administrator via a central data server, in which case the system administrator chooses or creates the main body content for the post, and assigns a geographical location identifier for the post.

A post created by a system administrator may also comprise multimedia content in its main body for example a photo or an image of a business, and a location identifier indicating where the business is located. The post may also comprise a web link accessible by users to find out more information about the business or other relevant business information, such as contact information.

User content building and sharing

In accordance with one configuration, the system allows a user to view and/or interact with one or more posts which meet the configurable location rule of the user. The interactions allowed may include: viewing and commenting on the post, and/or adding additional user content to the existing post such as that shown in Figure 3. For example, a user visited a tourist attraction or a new restaurant and took some photos to share with friends or the general public using the system. The user can create a post (or 'tag'), which comprises the photos taken at the specific location, and publish or upload the post to be shared with other people via the user application. Other users of the system are able to view the post if the post is within the catchment region of their user devices. An example would be when these users are also at or in the vicinity of the same location at which the post is created . They may decide to interact with the creator of the post by leaving comments, or by adding their own post (e.g . a 're-tag') photos they have taken to the existing post. Overtime, a post can be expanded and enriched with information provided by multiple users such that the post has an associated thread of subsequent posts for viewing such as that shown in Figure 2.

For clarity of explanation, the server and the user application for running the system have been separated into modules that will each be explained in further detail as to their function and operation within the system. It will be appreciated that these modules share information and data with each other to carry out their particular function within the system. In alternative forms, the server modules may be distributed to one or more server machines or may be integrated with each other or further separated into additional modules as may be necessary.

2. User application

Figure 3 is a block diagram of a user device application for executing on a user device in accordance with an embodiment. As can be seen in Figure 3, the user application comprises at least an input module 1 for creating the main body and/or the user content of a post, a location module 2 for generating a geographical location identifier indicative of a physical location, a content processing module 3 and a display module 4 for rendering different views of user content for a user, an augmented reality viewer 5 for displaying AR data and a communication module 6 for transmitting and receiving information from the server and/or other user devices.

Input module

The main body of a post is created by the input module 1 of the user application. The input module 1 is configured to allow a user to create the main body of a post by creating and editing multimedia information for example by taking or selecting a photo, recording or selecting an audio or a video clip, writing a text message, hand- drawing a picture or the like.

Location module

The location module 2 is arranged to generate a geographical location identifier for the user device running the user application, and/or for each post generated on the user device. In one embodiment, the location identifier is generated based on the retrieved geographical location of the user device, preferably by using a GPS unit equipped on the user device or by using a proximity system of beacons as described above.

In one embodiment, the location module 2 periodically detects the user device's location and uploads data indicative of the user's geographical location to the server to update the server of where the user is located.

In another embodiment, the location module 2 may also determine direction and/or orientation information such as user device heading and/or user device tilt angle from one or more onboard inertial or direction sensors of the user device, such as built-in compass sensor, tilt sensor, or the like.

Content processing module

The content processing module 3 collates the information from the input module 1 and the location module 2 and compiles a digital post to be uploaded to the server for publishing and sharing in the social network system.

The content processing module 3 also processes downloaded content received from the server, and renders various content views based on user's requests and operation of the user application. The content can either be viewed in an augmented reality viewer 5 ('AR view'), or in a non-AR browser such as a map viewer 3 ('map view').

In one configuration, the content processing module comprises an augmented reality viewer 5 for enabling content display in augmented reality, i.e an AR overlay view. The augmented reality viewer 5 displays the real-time camera view of the environment captured by a camera onboard the user device on a display. The user content retrieved from the server is superimposed as an overlay on top of the realtime camera view on the display, to enable a user to view and interact with posts made by users that fall within the configurable catchment region. The overlay may be in the form of a graphical thumbnail or icon for each post.

In another configuration, the content processing module is operable to project the AR overlay onto a transparent screen situated in front of the user's eyes, such that the AR overlays the user's real-world view of the environment. In this configuration, the user device may comprises a wearable electronic device, such as Google Glass. The content processing module 3 also comprises a map viewer for enabling content display in a map view in which the posts are rendered as thumbnails or icons on a conventional digital map, in which the user can zoom in or out of relative to their current location.

Communication module

The communication module 6 allows data communication between user devices, and/or between a user device and the server, over a data communication link such as a cellular data network, internet or similar.

3. User device

Figure 3 also shows a block diagram of the components in an exemplary user device.

The users may access the user application via any suitable portable or non-portable electronic device, including a general purpose computer such as a laptop, or any other portable electronic device having a data communication access capability, including, but not limited to, Portable Digital Assistants (PDAs), mobile phones, wearable user electronic devices for example Google Glass, or any other device that is capable of assessing the internet. In one configuration, the user application is a program executed or running on a smart phone, such as an iPhone or an Android application, or a website/browser based interface, or a combination of these.

The user device comprises one or more input means 7 for allowing a user to create user content and to interact with others for the user content they have created and shared publicly. The input means 7 may include one or more of the following : a camera 8 for capturing a photo, a touch pad or touch screen 9 display for entering text input and/or for drawing a picture, an audio and/or video recorder 10 for recording audio or video information or the like.

The device is equipped with a location unit 11 or module for determining real-time location information such as at least the longitude and latitude of the user device. In one example, the location unit comprises a GPS module 12 or sensor. In an alternative embodiment, the location unit may retrieve its location information from cell tower triangulation or the internet instead of using its own sensing devices. For example Google Map is able to determine the location information if a street address or an IP address is available. Optionally, the additional location information such as altitude of the device may be detected by the location unit. In another embodiment, the geographical location of the user device is retrieved from a proximity system comprising transmitting beacons as previously described.

The device also typically comprises a direction and/or orientation sensing unit 13 or module for detecting the direction and/or orientation at which the device is being held by the user. The direction unit may comprise, for example, one or more sensors such as a compass 14, tilt sensor 15, or other such sensors.

The user device also typically comprises a central processing unit (CPU) 18 for processing user content and rendering various content views to display to a user.

The device also comprises a memory unit 16 for storing user application data. The memory unit may be a built-in memory card of the user device, or a removable data storage device. At least some of the user application data may be stored in the memory unit permanently and updated regularly. Some user application data may only be saved temporarily when the user application is running and deleted from temporary memory (e.g. cached memory) when the user exits the user application and/or moves to a different geographical location.

The device comprises a display 31 for displaying the user content to the user. The display may be a hand-held display for example an LED display equipped on most smart phones, or it may be a wearable display for example a head-mounted display, a pair of glasses (Google Glass), bionic contact lenses and similar thereof, or it may be a virtual display and the information is simply projected onto the virtual display or scanned directly onto the retina of a user's eyes (virtual retinal display).

4. Server application

A block diagram of the server application is shown in Figure 4. The server application comprises at least a communication module 19 for communicating with the user devices, a content processing module 20 for analyzing and processing the content information being uploaded and downloaded by the user devices, and a database module for storing system related data. The server may also comprise a display module 50 for displaying user content to the system administrator.

The content processing module 20 is the core module of the server application. It processes the posts created and uploaded by users and system administrators, and extracts relevant posts to send to user applications for displaying in various different content views.

Upon receiving a request from a user device for accessing shared user content, the server extracts the location of the user device from the request, and retrieves a list of posts for the user which meet the configurable location rule of the user device. The list of posts is then sent to the user device for displaying either in an AR view or a map view. In one embodiment, the posts which meet the configurable location rule are only stored in a temporary memory space on the user device and automatically updated with new user content when the server detects that the user has moved to a different location. In another embodiment, the posts which meet the configurable location rule may be stored in the memory unit 16 on the user device. When the user moves to a different location and new user content is received from the server, the user application may extract appropriate user content to display based on its location rule and/or identifier contained in these relevant posts by itself, without relying on the server to forward the user content data each time. This may be controlled by the server which can store sent data indicative of the data sent to a user device previously and which can be processed on each new request so as to only send new user content data to the user. After a user creates and publishes a post, it is forwarded to the server in the form of a series of data packets and the server receives and processes the data packets for later use.

5. Server

The server may be any form of data server or computers. In one form, the server may be a computer comprising a display 22, input devices 23 such as a keyboard and a mouse, a central processing unit 24 for analyzing and processing data, a transmitter/receiver or data communication module 25 for communicating with user devices or with a remote database, and a storage medium 26 such as a hard drive or similar.

6. An exemplary embodiment

An exemplary embodiment of the user application will now be described with reference to Figures 5-15.

The user application is provided as a smart phone application which can be downloaded from an app market such as Apple iTunes store or Google store. An exemplary home page is shown in Figure 5 which provides options such as 'login', 'create an account', and 'just use it' which enables a user to access at least some user content without registration.

The user application has a viewing mode which renders and displays different content views for a user. In the example to be discussed shortly below, there is at least an AR viewer and a map viewer in the viewing mode.

When the user application is in the AR viewer, the user application accesses for example the GPS unit of the smart phone provided on the user device to generate a geographical location identifier indicative of the current location of the device for forwarding to the server to let the server know where the user is currently located. In one embodiment the user's location is represented as the absolute location of user using a specific pairing of longitude and latitude in a coordinate system. In another embodiment, the current location may not be represented as an absolute location, but represented by an area comprising a range of longitudes and latitudes. The user application may also access one or more direction sensing units such as a solid state compass on the user device to determine at which direction the user device is oriented or facing. The location information may also be used by the server or the user device to query an associated map for example Google Map to determine an altitude for the user. Therefore when in the AR viewer, at least the geographical location, optionally also the altitude and/or the orientation of the user device are used by the server to determine appropriate user content to forward to user applications. The location identifier may be updated by the user application periodically and transmitted once the data is ready, and/or alternatively the server may send a location request to the user application which then prompts the user application to generate the location identifier and forward it to the server. In one embodiment, the location identifier may be only forwarded to the server when the user's location or the heading of the user device changes. In another embodiment, the user application generates and forwards a geographical location identifier to the server every time it transmits and/or receives information with the server.

The location identifier is preferably in the form of a set of attributes and comprises data packets that can be processed by the server to extract location and heading information to determine the user's catchment region. The server uses the calculated catchment region to determine the user content available to the user. In an exemplary embodiment, the server compares every location identifier it receives with a previous stored geographical location. If the distance between the two locations is greater than a predetermined distance then the catchment region is recalculated and new user content is sent to the user device. The predetermined distance may be 5 meters, i.e. when a user walks a distance of more than 5 meters from his current location to a new location, a new catchment region is calculated by the server and user content in the new catchment region is forwarded to the user device. This predetermined distance may be 5 meters, or 10 meters, or any value selected by the system administrator or the user.

AR view

When in the AR view, the AR content is displayed as an overlay on top of a real- time camera feed. In one embodiment, a user is arranged to point the camera of the user device at a certain direction, if there is a post in the catchment region in the direction that the camera is pointed at, a pop up message or an icon 27 or a thumbnail will be shown on top of the real-time camera image to indicate there is a post at that location as shown in Figure 8. If interested, the user may tap or click on the message or the icon, to access the content of the post and enters an interactive mode. In the interactive mode, the user can view more information of the post, and/or leave a comment, and/or add additional user content for example adding more photos or texts if desired.

The user application optimizes the layout of the thumbnails or icons in the AR view using a de-cluttering technique. This technique may be particularly beneficial for user devices which have a relatively smaller display screen. The thumbnails may each have a standard size and only displays for example a profile photo of the user who posted the user content, without displaying the main body and/or the user interaction data.

Figure 8 shows a screen capture of the user application in the AR view. The circular area 28 on the top left corner of the screen indicates the catchment region of the user device. The catchment region in this example is an area circled by a predetermined or a changeable radius, with the centre of the circle being the current location of the user.

The catchment region of a user may be different between different views. In the AR view, the catchment region may be a circular area and in the map view the catchment region may be a square or a rectangular area. In another embodiment, the catchment region may only apply to the AR view, but does not apply to other content views.

The point 29 at the top left corner indicates the approximate location of a post 27 relative to the current user's location. Generally speaking the more points there are within the set radius, the more posts are located in the surrounding area.

Map view

The user application also provides a map viewer. The map viewer provides an overview of where the posts are geographically located on a digital map. The geographical area shown on the map may be pre-defined and/or changeable by a user by zooming in and/or out of the map, and/or select a different area to display on the map.

Figure 6 and 7 each shows a screen capture of the user application in a map viewer as an example. In the map viewer, the user application again sends location identifier to the server either periodically or does so after the server sends a location data request, or when the user application detects there is a location and/or heading change of the user and the user device.

In one embodiment, the map is stored on the user device, and the user application simply displays locations of posts on the map when it receives relevant data from the server. In another embodiment, the map is stored remotely on the server or another database. Upon receiving a request from the user application, the server determines which section of the map to display and forwards the map and posts location data to the user device to generate a map view for the user. In another embodiment, the server may store the map and all posts as a dynamic image file on the server and forward the image file or relevant section of this image file to the user application when required.

A user can than zoom in or out on the map, or select a different map area to be displayed on the user device. Zooming in and/or out can be done for example by changing the relevant distance between a first finger and a second finger which are both in physical contact with the touch screen of the user device, or alternatively by tapping or clicking on a '+' or a '-' icon which represent zooming in and zooming out respectively, or by any suitable means.

Figure 6 shows a map view within a smaller geographical range comprising only a few streets; whereas Figure 7 displays a much larger area which comprises a few districts. As shown in Figure 6 and 7, the geographical locations of the posts are indicated on the maps by icons 27. In one form, each time a user zooms in or out on the map or selects a different map area to display, the user application updates the section of the map that is currently being displayed on the user device and retrieves the user content from the server.

In another embodiment, a user may be only allowed to access content of a post within the AR viewer, and a map viewer simply provides an indication to the user of where to find shared user content, i.e. posts, but not providing any accessible post information except the location of these posts. Alternatively, a user may be allowed to access the content of these posts in map view by simply tapping or clicking on the thumbnails 27. In addition to the street map view such as that shown in Figure 6 and 7, the user application may also enable a satellite view such as that shown in Figures 13 and 14. An exemplary post

Figures 9 to Figure 11 show an exemplary post being created.

Figure 9 shows a screen capture of a user takes a photo using a built-in camera on a device, and then edits the photo as desired by applying a few built-in editing features of the user application. Descriptive caption such as a title may be added to the post, for example, 'in office' as that shown in Figure 10. Figure 11 shows a preview of the post before it is forwarded to the server and published in the social networking system. A location identifier (not shown) will also be generated and forwarded to the server together or separately with the main body data.

Figure 12 shows another exemplary post created and published by a different user. User interaction

The invention enables user interaction with the post and with each other via the user application as illustrated in Figure 2. A simplest form of user interaction is commenting on a post, as shown in Figures 12 and 15.

As show in Figure 2, a first user may share a post at a first location. If the location falls within the catchment region of other users of the system, then these users are allowed to access the content of the post. They may wish to create their own user content and then add to the first post. These users may be either at the same location with the first post, or at a different location but are allowed access to the post because the post satisfies the location rule of their user devices. In this way the users are jointly building and expanding user contents for a specific post located at a certain location.

Advertising and/or campaign tool

In another embodiment, the social networking system may, for example, be configured and used by businesses as a new marketing tool as that shown in Figure 16. A system administrator or business may generate data defining a set of sequentially arranged game posts at different locations and provide information for users to locate the first or 'start' post 31. Each of the game posts has an artificially created location identifier, i.e the system administrator or business can create the game post at any desired location without having to be at the location to create the post as is the case for user created ad hoc posts.

The first post 31 may contain hints, guidelines, promotional offers, marketing information, or similar, which could motivate or lead the users to search or 'hunt' for the next post or alternatively may provide directions to the next post in a scavenger hunt like game. The first post 31 can only be 'discovered' by a user if it meets the location rule of that user, i.e. the user will need to move around until the post is within the catchment region of the user application. The user will then need to point the camera in different directions, until a pop up window or an icon shows in the AR view to inform the user where the post is located.

Once a user successfully locates the first post 31 and informs the server that the first post is found by interacting with the post, for example by visiting an associated web page, or by leaving a comment, solving a puzzle in the post, or by accepting a promotional offer or similar, the second game post 32 is then unlocked by the server for the user to search for and view at the assigned location of the second game post. The first post may contain a clue to the location of the second game post 32. The user is arranged to access the sequentially arranged posts in a predetermined order, i.e. if a user has not yet discovered or interacted with the first post, then even if other posts may be within the catchment region of the user device, access to these posts is still locked (i.e. not viewable) .

The users of the system will need to 'unlock' the sequentially arranged posts in the order they are arranged until they reach the last or 'end' post 34, which may for example contain a prize or coupon for redemption.

7. General

Embodiments may be implemented by hardware, software, firmware, middleware, microcode, or any combination thereof. When implemented in software, firmware, middleware or microcode, the program code or code segments to perform the necessary tasks may be stored in a machine-readable medium such as a storage medium or other storage(s). A processor may perform the necessary tasks. A code segment may represent a procedure, a function, a subprogram, a program, a routine, a subroutine, a module, a software package, a class, or any combination of instructions, data structures, or program statements. A code segment may be coupled to another code segment or a hardware circuit by passing and/or receiving information, data, arguments, parameters, or memory contents. Information, arguments, parameters, data, etc. may be passed, forwarded, or transmitted via any suitable means including memory sharing, message passing, token passing, network transmission, etc. In the foregoing, a storage medium may represent one or more devices for storing data, including read-only memory (ROM), random access memory (RAM), magnetic disk storage mediums, optical storage mediums, flash memory devices and/or other machine readable mediums for storing information. The terms "machine readable medium" and "computer readable medium" include, but are not limited to portable or fixed storage devices, optical storage devices, and/or various other mediums capable of storing, containing or carrying instruction(s) and/or data.

The various illustrative logical blocks, modules, circuits, elements, and/or components described in connection with the examples disclosed herein may be implemented or performed with a general purpose processor, a digital signal processor (DSP), an application specific integrated circuit (ASIC), a field programmable gate array (FPGA) or other programmable logic component, discrete gate or transistor logic, discrete hardware components, or any combination thereof designed to perform the functions described herein. A general purpose processor may be a microprocessor, but in the alternative, the processor may be any conventional processor, controller, microcontroller, circuit, and/or state machine. A processor may also be implemented as a combination of computing components, e.g., a combination of a DSP and a microprocessor, a number of microprocessors, one or more microprocessors in conjunction with a DSP core, or any other such configuration. The methods or algorithms described in connection with the examples disclosed herein may be embodied directly in hardware, in a software module executable by a processor, or in a combination of both, in the form of processing unit, programming instructions, or other directions, and may be contained in a single device or distributed across multiple devices. A software module may reside in RAM memory, flash memory, ROM memory, EPROM memory, EEPROM memory, registers, hard disk, a removable disk, a CD- ROM, or any other form of storage medium known in the art. A storage medium may be coupled to the processor such that the processor can read information from, and write information to, the storage medium. In the alternative, the storage medium may be integral to the processor.

One or more of the components and functions illustrated the figures may be rearranged and/or combined into a single component or embodied in several components without departing from the invention. Additional elements or components may also be added without departing from the invention. Additionally, the features described herein may be implemented in software, hardware, as a business method, and/or combination thereof.

In its various aspects, the invention can be embodied in a computer-implemented process, a machine (such as an electronic device, or a general purpose computer or other device that provides a platform on which computer programs can be executed), processes performed by these machines, or an article of manufacture. Such articles can include a computer program product or digital information product in which a computer readable storage medium containing computer program instructions or computer readable data stored thereon, and processes and machines that create and use these articles of manufacture.

The foregoing description of the invention includes preferred forms thereof. Modifications may be made thereto without departing from the scope of the invention as defined by the accompanying claims.

Claims

WHAT WE CLAIM IS:
1. A method for sharing and displaying user content in a social networking system for a user on a programmable user device, the method comprising :
retrieving the geographical location of the user device,
generating a user geographical location identifier based on the retrieved geographical location,
forwarding the user geographical location identifier to a remote server,
receiving user content from the remote server based on the user geographical location identifier,
displaying the received user content to the user in various content views, wherein in at least one of the content views the user content is displayed in augmented reality, and
enabling the user to interact with the user content displayed on the user device.
2. A method according to claim 1 wherein the user content is in the form of one or more interactive digital posts comprising data representing at least a main body which carries multimedia information.
3. A method according to claim 2 wherein the main body of the post carries multimedia information in any one or more of the following forms: graphical, audio, video and/or text content.
4. A method according to claim 2 or claim 3 wherein each post is created by either a user or a system administrator.
5. A method according to any one of claims 2-4 wherein each post comprises an associated post geographical location identifier.
6. A method according to claim 5 wherein the post geographical location identifier of each post represents the geographical location of where the post was created by a user.
7. A method according to any one of claims 2-6 wherein each post further comprises data representing user interaction with the post.
8. A method according to claim 7 wherein the data representing user interaction with the post comprises data representing any one or more of the following : user comments on the post, new linked posts, and/or data indicative of the number of user views of the post.
9. A method according to any one of the preceding claims wherein receiving user content from the remote server based on the user geographical location identifier comprises receiving user content that satisfies a configurable location rule based on the user geographical location identifier.
10. A method according to any one of the preceding claims wherein displaying the received user content to the user in various content views comprises only displaying received user content that satisfies a configurable location rule based on the user geographical location identifier.
11. A method according to claim 10 or claim 11 wherein the configurable location rule defines a catchment region relative to the user's current or real-time location as indicated by the user geographical location identifier.
12. A method according to claim 11 wherein each post comprises an associated post geographical location identifier representing the geographical location of where the post was created by a user, and the method comprises receiving user content comprising posts having associated post geographical location identifiers that fall within the catchment region defined by the configurable location rule.
13. A method according to claim 11 or claim 12 wherein the catchment region is a circular region having a boundary defined by a configurable radius parameter centered about the user's current location indicated by the user geographical location identifier.
14. A method according to claim 13 wherein the radius parameter defining the circular catchment region is defined as a length in meters.
15. A method according to any one of claims 11-13 wherein the size and/or shape of the catchment region relative to the user's current location is configured by a system administrator or settings in the remote server.
16. A method according to any one of claims 11-13 wherein the size and/or shape of the catchment region is defined by one or more variable parameters associated with one or more factors selected from : the number of posts created by that user, the amount of interaction the user initiates in the system within a certain period, and/or the length of time the user has been a registered user of the system.
17. A method according to any one of claims 11-13 wherein the size and/or shape of the catchment region is configured by the user operable settings.
18. A method according to any one of the preceding claims wherein the programmable user device comprises:
input means for creating user content and for enabling the user to interact with the user content;
a location unit for determining the geographical location of the user device; a communication module that is operable to transmit to and receive data from the remote server over a data communication link or network; and
a central processing unit for processing received user content and for rendering content views for the user.
19. A method according to claim 18 wherein the programmable user device is a portable electronic device selected from any of the following : smart phone, tablet, personal digital assistant (PDA), or a wearable computer device.
20. A method according to claim 18 or claim 19 wherein the input means comprises one or more of the following : a camera for capturing an image, a video and/or audio recorder for recording video and/or audio, and/or text input means for entering text.
21. A method according to any one of the preceding claims further comprising enabling the user to create and transmit user content on their programmable user device to the remote server for sharing.
22. A method according to claim 21 wherein the method is provided by an application program executed on the programmable user device, and wherein the steps of receiving user content from the remote server for display and interaction, and transmitting user content to the remote server for sharing, is enabled by the single application program.
23. A method according to any one of claims 18-22 wherein retrieving the geographical location of the user device comprises retrieving the geographical location from the location unit of the user device.
24. A method according to claim 23 wherein the location unit of the user device is configured to determine the geographical location of the user device based on one or more sensors or inputs of the user device.
25. A method according to claim 24 wherein the location unit of the user device comprises a Global Positioning System (GPS) module and the retrieved geographical location of the user device comprises GPS coordinates received from the GPS module.
26. A method according to claim 24 wherein the location unit of the user device is configured to determine the geographical location of the user device based on interaction with an indoor and/or outdoor proximity system comprising transmitting beacons located at various fixed positions within the environment.
27. A method according to claim 26 wherein the location unit of the user device is configured to detect a beacon or beacons in close proximity to the user device and receive beacon data from the beacon(s) from which the geographical location of the user device can be determined.
28. A method according to any one of the preceding claims wherein generating a user geographical location identifier based on the retrieved geographical location of the user device comprises generating or extracting data comprising latitude and longitude coordinates indicative of the geographical location of the user device.
29. A method according to any one of the preceding claims wherein the user geographical location identifier further comprises data indicative of the altitude of the user device.
30. A method according to any one of claims 18-20 wherein the user device further comprises one or more sensors for determining the direction the user device is facing and/or the orientation of the device, and generating representative direction and/or orientation data.
31. A method according to claim 30 wherein displaying the received user content to the user in various content views comprises only displaying a portion of the received user content that satisfies a configurable display rule based on data indicative of the direction and/or orientation of the user device.
32. A method according to claim 31 wherein the configurable display rule defines that only user content having an associated post geographical location identifier that falls within a field of view defined relative to the current sensed direction and/or orientation of the user device will be displayed.
33. A method according to any one of the preceding claims wherein forwarding the user geographical location identifier comprises periodically forwarding an updated user geographical location identifier to the remote server at regular intervals.
34. A method according to any one of the preceding claims wherein forwarding the user geographical identifier comprises forwarding an updated user geographical identifier to the remote server upon receiving a request from the remote server.
35. A method according to any one of the preceding claims wherein forwarding the user geographical location identifier to the remote server comprises forwarding an updated user geographical identifier to the remote server at each new data exchange with the remote server.
36. A method according to any one of the preceding claims wherein forwarding the updated user geographical location identifier to the remote server comprises forwarding an updated geographical location identifier to the remote server upon detection of the location of the user device changing, such that the server is constantly updated with the real-time location of the user device.
37. A method according to any one of the preceding claims wherein forwarding the geographical location identifier to the remote server comprises forwarding an updated user geographical location identifier to the remote server upon detection of movement of the user device beyond a movement threshold.
38. A method according to any one of the claims 2-37 wherein the content views comprise at least an augmented reality view (AR view) and a map view.
39. A method according to claim 38 wherein displaying the received user content to the user in an AR view comprises displaying a real-time camera view of the environment captured by a camera onboard the user device and the received user content from the server as a superimposed overlay on top of the real-time camera view.
40. A method according to any one of claims 1-38 wherein displaying the received user content to the user in an AR view comprises projecting the user content onto a transparent screen in front of the user's eyes that is part of or operatively connected to the user device.
41. A method according to claim 38 wherein displaying the received user content in to the user in the map view comprises displaying an electronic map of a geographic area associated or centered about the retrieved geographical location of the user device and the user content as an overlay on the electronic map.
42. A method according to any one of claims 38-41 wherein displaying the received user content comprises displaying posts as interactive thumbnails at respective locations in the AR view or map view that correspond to the respective post geographical location identifiers associated with the posts.
43. A method according to any one of the preceding claims wherein displaying the received user content further comprises displaying user content based on one or more configurable display settings, wherein the configurable display settings determine a threshold for the number of posts to display at any one time.
44. A method according to any one of the preceding claims wherein displaying the received user content further comprises displaying user content based on one or more configurable display settings, wherein the configurable display settings determine one or more filter settings that filter or rank the received user content for display based on one or more criteria.
45. A method according to any one of the preceding claims wherein enabling the user to interact with the user content displayed on the user device comprises enabling the user to do any one or more of the following : view the post, comment on the post, re-post the post, add additional user content to the post, comment on comments left by other users, edit the post, and/or visit a link provided on the post.
46. A method according to any one of the preceding claims wherein displaying the received user content comprises displaying received user content in accordance with configurable game settings.
47. A method according to claim 46 wherein the received user content comprises a post or posts from a set of ordered game posts that are configured to be viewed in a sequential or predetermined order as determined by the configurable game settings, each game post having a configured post geographical location identifier that determines where the game post is viewable.
48. A method according to claim 47 wherein the method comprises displaying each game post or posts from the set of game posts to the user only if the game settings are met by the user.
49. A method according to claim 47 or claim 48 wherein the game settings dictate that the user must interact with each game post before being able to unlock or view the next game post in the set of ordered game posts.
50. A method according to claim 49 wherein interacting with a game post to unlock the next game post in the set of ordered game posts comprises any one or more of the following : viewing the post, commenting on the post, sharing the post, and/or solving a puzzle or question within the post.
51. A programmable user device having a processor or processors that are configured to execute computer-readable instructions to execute the method of any one of the preceding claims for sharing and displaying user content in a social networking system.
52. A computer-readable medium having stored thereon computer executable instructions that, when executed on a processing device or devices, cause the processing device to perform the method of any one of claims 1-50 for sharing and displaying user content a social networking system.
53. A method for sharing and displaying user content in a social networking system, the method comprising :
receiving user content from one or more users via programmable user devices operated by the users,
storing the user content in a local or remote database,
receiving a request for content comprising a user geographical location identifier from a user device, the geographical location identifier representing the location of the user device,
retrieving stored user content that satisfies a configurable location rule based on the received geographical location identifier in the request, and
transmitting retrieved user content that satisfies the configurable location rule to the user device to be displayed in various content views, wherein at least one of the content views is an augmented reality view.
54. A method according to claim 53 wherein the users are registered users of the social networking system.
55. A method according to claim 53 or claim 54 wherein the user content is in the form of one or more interactive digital posts comprising data representing at least a main body which carries multimedia information.
56. A method according to claim 55 wherein the main body of each post carries multimedia information in any one or more of the following forms: graphical, audio, video and/or text content.
57. A method according to claim 55 or claim 56 wherein each post comprises an associated post geographical location identifier.
58. A method according to claim 57 wherein the post geographical location identifier of each posts represents the geographical location of where the post was created by a user.
59. A method according to claim 57 or claim 58 wherein the location rule defines a catchment region relative to the user geographical location identifier, and the method comprises retrieving stored user content comprising posts having associated post geographical location identifiers that fall within the catchment region.
60. A method according to claim 59 wherein the catchment region is a circular region having a boundary defined by a configurable radius parameter centered about the location represented by the user geographical location identifier.
61. A method according to claim 60 wherein the radius parameter defining the circular catchment region is defined as a length in meters.
62. A method according to any one of claims 59-61 wherein the size and/or shape of the catchment region relative to the user's current location is configured by a system administrator.
63. A method according to any one of claims 59-61 wherein the size and/or shape of the catchment region is defined by one or more variable parameters associated with one or more factors selected from : the number of posts created by that user, the amount of interaction the user initiates in the system within a certain period, and/or the length of time the user has been a registered user of the system.
64. A method according to any one of claims 59-61 wherein the size and/or shape of the catchment region is configured by user operable settings which are received with the request for user content from the user device.
65. A method according to any one of claims 53-64 wherein the method comprises storing sent data indicative of the retrieved user content previously transmitted to a user device.
66. A method according to claim 65 wherein the method further comprises retrieving and transmitting to the user device only new user content not previously transmitted to the user device based on the stored sent data.
67. A method according to any one of claims 53-66 wherein the method further comprises storing user content comprising a set of ordered game posts that are configured to be viewed in a sequential or predetermined order as determined by game settings, each game post having a configured post geographical location identifier that determines where the game post is viewable.
68. A method according to claim 67 wherein the method further comprises retrieving and transmitting each game post or game posts from the set of game posts only in accordance with game settings.
69. A method according to claim 68 wherein the game settings dictate that the user must interact with each game post before being able to unlock or view the next game post in the set of ordered game posts.
70. A method according to claim 69 wherein the method comprises receiving interaction data indicative of interaction with a game post by the user, and unlocking the next game post for the user to view based on the interaction data.
71. A server having a processor or processors that are configured to execute computer readable instructions to execute the method of any one of claims 53-70 for sharing and displaying user content in a social networking system.
72. A computer-readable medium having stored thereon computer executable instructions that, when executed on a processing device or devices, cause the processing device to perform the method of any one of claims 53-70 for sharing and displaying user content in a social networking system.
73. A method of sharing and displaying user content for a user on a user device in a social networking environment, the method comprising :
on a programmable user device:
retrieving the geographical location of the user device,
generating a geographical location identifier based on the retrieved geographical location,
forwarding the geographical location identifier to a remote server, receiving user content from the remote server based on the user geographical location identifier,
displaying the received user content to the user in various content views, wherein in at least one of the content views the user content is displayed in augmented reality, and
enabling the user to interact with the user content displayed on their user device; and
on the remote server: receiving user content from one or more users via programmable user devices operated by the users,
storing the user content in a local or remote database,
receiving a request for content comprising a user geographical location identifier from a user device, the geographical location identifier representing the location of the user device
retrieving stored user content that satisfies a configurable location rule based on the received geographical location identifier in the request, and
transmitting retrieved user content that satisfies the configurable location rule to the user device to be displayed in various content views, wherein at least one of the content views is an augmented reality view.
74. A system for sharing and displaying user content for one or more users in a social networking system, the system comprising :
one or more programmable user devices according to claim 51 ; and a server or servers according to claim 71,
the user devices being in data communication with the server(s) over a data communication link or network.
PCT/IB2014/066277 2014-07-11 2014-11-24 Social networking system and method WO2016005799A1 (en)

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