For a small additional fee . . .
Now that we have survived the official 2011 Christmas holiday shopping season, are there new clean technologies that specifically pertain to . . . online shopping?
On March 29, 2011 Eric Brandwine and Luis Cabrera were granted US patent number 7,917,400 for “Environmentally conscious transaction determinations.” Amazon Technologies, Inc. of Reno, NV is the assignee.
This patent is a business method patent, classified in the US Patent Classification system as 705/26.8. Patents in this area cover the compilation or processing of lists (e.g., purchase orders, etc.) and are a subset of electronic shopping. Business methods patents fall within the Industry category of Way Better Patents cleantech ecosystem.
Claim 1 of the patent states:
“A computer-implemented method of enabling a user to select at least one item based at least in part upon environmental impact information, comprising:
under control of one or more computer systems configured with executable instructions, receiving a request from the user for information about at least one item available for consumption;
determining environmental impact information for the at least one item corresponding to the request, the environmental impact information for each item including environmental impact data about the physical item and environmental impact data for one or more packaging options available for the item;
and providing for display information about the at least one item based at least in part on the determined environmental impact information, wherein the user is able to base a selection of the at least one item to be included in a transaction, and at least one packaging option for the at least one item, based at least in part upon the determined environmental impact information displayed to the user before completion of the transaction.”
The patent, once implemented on Amazon’s web site, will allow customers to select options that reduce the environmental impact of each transaction. Options include the ability to purchase environmental offsets to offset the determined impact. Customers can be provided with environmental impact information determined or tracked for each item viewed, so that each customer can be informed of the incremental environmental impact of each individual when making a purchase selection. The selections and/or actions of a customer can be tracked such that environmentally friendly options and suggestions can be provided for subsequent transactions.
This is an interesting concept, but the devil is in the details. What data and analytical procedures will be used by Amazon to determine the environmental impact of transactions? Are these to be real, measurable impacts, or modeled/predicted impacts? What groups will receive the offset money paid by customers who choose that option? How will that money really be used?
Call me skeptical for now.