Turning a conversation into a comic strip – it is not new, but it could function in a new way. A patent filed by Google this week suggests that the search engine giant has plans to let users generate comic strips from discussions between two or more people and then share them, perhaps by email, messenger, or Google+. Given the size of its existing networks, this could make quite an impact.
The patent, titled Self-creation of comic strips in social networks and other communications, is a fairly expansive document but not a very informative one. Looking at past endeavors such as Bitstrips, however, provides some idea of the potential of the medium. Google may invite users to select from a group of existing comic characters or may add personalized avatars as an option in profiles, increasing the social appeal of its approach. It might also offer the option of letting other people edit and expand upon the comic strips after they have been generated.
As this blog reported yesterday, Google’s top team regrets not getting into social media earlier in the game. Giving it more visual appeal may provide a unique angle that helps Google+ to expand and pick up users who are tired of Facebook. It would also provide interesting options for those working in social media marketing, as conversations with customers could come to seem both more personal and more fun. Google itself has suggested that users might find it easier to follow the flow of a conversation presented in this way; what is more, well-chosen cartoon avatars could help to define a business brand and act – literally – as its friendly face online.
There is always a possibility that this won’t happen, of course – the patent could simply be intended to stop rivals using the idea. Having struggled to compete on patents in the past, Google is now keen to file early on any idea that might have potential and it is picking up some seriously odd things along the way. Last week Google's subsidiary Motorola filed a patent for a throat tattoo that could function as a microphone when a mobile phone was pressed against it, canceling out background noise and making conversations clearer. Those working on the concept have suggested that the tattoo could also measure voltaic activity in the skin, making it a possible lie detector; however, how many people would want to be tattooed in this situation is open to question.