Lyft, Uber and AR games

Ever notice how people often play games on their cellphones? Some take this too far, by playing when driving?! This has been banned in many countries. But no one has anything against a passenger in a moving vehicle playing a mobile game. How does the game tell the difference between a passenger and a driver playing a game? The game knows if the player is moving at a speed typical of a moving vehicle, from the phone GPS. But it does not distinguish between driver and passenger. Many answers have been offered. Some involve installing hardware in the car. Other methods install software on the phone to scrutinise the phone. But the solutions are voluntary. A person likely to drive and play is unlikely to install them.

Linket Corp. has a solution, that will be a patent within 2 months, on a special and important subset of the problem. Consider when a person, Jane, is standing by a road, waiting for a Lyft car. She runs the Lyft app to see when the car will arrive. The app shows a map with Lyft cars on a road network. Jane is bored. She could play a game with the map. It shows various monsters, like in Figure 1. Jane has to capture the Tiger. She is the blue square on the lower left. Think perhaps of Pokemon Go. Figure 1 also shows 2 other gamers, [Ann Shoots] and [Bob Hunts]. In the map, if Jane clicks on the Tiger or the gamers, the game app can be installed. The firm that makes the game will want this, because it leads to more people watching and playing their game.

Figure 1. The Lyft/Uber map with a game character

Elaborations are possible. Figure 2 shows a route on the map. From a Starbucks to a Nordstrom store. The zig zagging is because the route is via a road network, which is not shown in the figure, for clarity. But en route are shown a Rhino and a Toad that she can capture.

Figure 2. Characters on Jane’s path

Why this matters

The map appears in the ridesharing app. It knows to high confidence that the person using the app is not the driver but the passenger, or a would be passenger waiting by a road. So when she is standing or in the moving car, she is not the driver. The ridesharing firm gets extra revenue from the game. In turn, the game can attract more viewers or players. Note that the game expands into an empty time zone, when the passenger is likely to be bored, and hence susceptible to playing the game. Both firms also get favourable publicity from advertising that they found a safe way to play mobile games in cars.

Linket received this week from the US Patent and Trademark Office a Notice of Allowance for this patent pending. The patent will issue within 2 months.

(We are a self financed startup in Los Angeles, looking for investors.)