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Wireless (Apple) Businesses Patents Apple Hardware

Apple Patents 'Buy Stuff Wirelessly, Skip Lines' Tech 254

An anonymous reader writes "Apple is looking to patent a process that will save customers the hassle of waiting to order a cup of coffee at a local Starbucks. Even better: The technology would let you jump the line of those ordering in person. 'Customers might tap a button to order their favorite drink, say a double-shot mocha, as they stroll up to the nearest coffee shop. When the drink is ready go to, the device--such as an iPhone--would chime or blink to let the thirsty one know it's time to scoop up the order at the counter. The patent puts Apple's partnership with Starbucks in a new light. The technology promises to morph Apple from the business of simply selling gadgets and music and movies that can be played on those devices into an intermediary in all kinds of exchanges.'"
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Apple Patents 'Buy Stuff Wirelessly, Skip Lines' Tech

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  • by davidwr ( 791652 ) on Thursday December 27, 2007 @05:53PM (#21833944) Homepage Journal
    This is obvious, let me count the ways.

    In the 1980s, I could walk up to an ATM machine, tap a few buttons, and order airline tickets. This put me ahead of the people standing in line at the ticket counter.

    Today, I can walk up to a kiosk and order movie tickets, which puts me ahead of those waiting in line.

    Decades ago, I could call a restaurant and reserve a table, putting me ahead of those who were in line to tell the waiter that they needed a table.
  • by Applekid ( 993327 ) on Thursday December 27, 2007 @05:55PM (#21833980)
    Then you'll need to read up on RFC 2324 [].
  • Re:Unbelievable (Score:3, Informative)

    by UncleTogie ( 1004853 ) * on Thursday December 27, 2007 @06:13PM (#21834222) Homepage Journal

    Maybe the part about notification when it's ready is important here. Otherwise, everything else has already been done.

    The notifications... [] have been done before, too...

  • Re:Obvious patents (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 27, 2007 @06:13PM (#21834230)
    Plus Zaxby's already passes out little pagers after you order-- then you go get your drink, pick a table, wait for the lights to flash and go pick up your order. If you had ordered in advance by phone or internet, you would have this already at Zaxby's.
  • Re:Unbelievable (Score:3, Informative)

    by arivanov ( 12034 ) on Thursday December 27, 2007 @06:22PM (#21834318) Homepage
    I have seen the ordering system in a Spanish restaurant in the middle of nowhere (Los Gigantes - a small resort on the west coast of Tenerife) do that in 2005. So there is plenty of prior art.

    IIRC, all orders were taken on small wireless palmtops (probably some variety of ruggedized palm with custom software). The order was transmitted to the kitchen straight away and the waiter could service the next table and so on instead of running like mad between the table rows and the kitchen (as customary). When an order was ready for collection the palmtop rang. As a result 3 waiters managed to deal with a restaurant which had at least 45 tables, probably more.

    Dunno who did the software for them, but a few years back it would have been an impressive feat of engineering. With all the limitations of PalmOS and such doing this would have required a lot of effort.

    Doing the same as a web based app for something like the iPhone is a piece of cake. Depending on the complexity of the interface into the ordering system it can take from a couple of hours to at most a couple of weeks.

    What is more interesting is where does this put T-Mobile partnership with Starbucks. It could have done that using any of their handhelds like the sidekick ages ago and it has suitable GSM/GPRS interface as well. Bet they are slapping themselves on the forehead at the moment.
  • Re:Obvious patents (Score:3, Informative)

    by Mistlefoot ( 636417 ) on Thursday December 27, 2007 @08:04PM (#21835148)
    This is normal were I live, eat, dine and drink. have been doing this for at least the 12 years I have lived in BC. Just about EVERY mainstream bar or restaurant uses this or similar systems.

    Basically, waiters and waitresses use mobile stations to order your food. The wait staff then head to the bar to pick up and deliver your order. To add wireless to this does nothing. I suppose I could take any 10 year old technology patent, add wireless to it and call it a new creation. Whether the wait staff commit the order or the patron him/herself should have no bearing on anything.

    I am sure there must be more to the patent then the parent implies but if not I'm guessing this patent won't last long....
  • by vrmlguy ( 120854 ) <> on Thursday December 27, 2007 @08:47PM (#21835476) Homepage Journal
    I thought that this sounded familiar, so I Googled some keywords and immediately found this: []

    The introduction of the cell phone into the process can change things greatly, said David Sacks, vice president for strategy at He conjured a scene from the wireless future: ''Walk down the street, a few blocks away from your favorite Starbucks, pull out your Web-connected cell phone, you get a Starbucks menu, click espresso, and it's sent. And you've not only ordered it, but you've paid and you can go pick it up.''
  • Insurance (Score:2, Informative)

    by logicpaw ( 868693 ) on Thursday December 27, 2007 @09:48PM (#21835844)
    This is simply insurance and has little to do with patenting something new. The patent office occasionally grants marginal and outright flaky patents, and will continue to do so even if the current process is improved somewhat. For a big company (read: deep pockets lawsuit target) it's cheaper to file a patent on something ambiguously new or obvious, and have it rejected, than to be the subject of a suit from a troll who got lucky with a nearly identical filing under some hidden submarine title. If granted, even if by sheer luck, it might still add to their cross-licensing/defense portfolio.
  • Already been done (Score:2, Informative)

    by andrewm_za ( 766955 ) on Friday December 28, 2007 @02:56AM (#21837292)
    And it works on any phone. Order online, via WAP, or via SMS and your phone is linked to your credit card. []
  • Already Been Done (Score:2, Informative)

    by Seahawker101 ( 643662 ) on Friday December 28, 2007 @05:08AM (#21837756)
    This has already been done by Nintendo at Safeco Field in Seattle. They introduced a paid service where you can use your DS to order food and have it brought up to you while watching the game. Apple's doing exactly what Sony does, copy a good idea and call it your own.

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