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1. WO2020117249 - SYSTÈMES ET PROCÉDÉS D'ÉVALUATIONS INTELLIGENTES DE PRODUITS

Note: Texte fondé sur des processus automatiques de reconnaissance optique de caractères. Seule la version PDF a une valeur juridique

[ EN ]

SYSTEMS AND METHODS FOR INTELLIGENT PRODUCT REVIEWS

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0001 ] The invention relates to systems and methods for bolstering legitimacy of product reviews.

BACKGROUND

[0002] Online product reviews are often important to both businesses and their customers. Fraudulent online reviews of products may hurt customers by providing false information or opinions about products, and may damage businesses that may rely on such reviews to market their products. A solution is needed to help customers and businesses determine whether product reviews made by legitimate genuine purchasers.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0003] The invention may be better understood by references to the detailed description when considered in connection with the accompanying drawings. The components in the figures are not necessarily to scale, emphasis instead being placed upon illustrating the principles of the invention. In the figures, like reference numerals designate corresponding parts throughout the different views.

[0004] Fig. 1 A and Fig. 1 B are an illustration of the elements of an embodiment of a system that includes a system for intelligent product reviews as disclosed herein;

[0005] Fig. 2 is a user interface diagram illustrating example features of an embodiment of a user interface for a usage tracking system as described herein;

[0006] Fig. 3 is a block diagram illustrating system elements for an embodiment of a usage tracking system in accordance with the current disclosure;

[0007] Fig. 4 is a flow chart of an embodiment of a process for usage tracking using the usage tracking system described herein;

[0008] Fig. 5 is a flow chart of another embodiment of a process for usage tracking using the usage tracking system described herein;

[0009] Fig. 6 is a schematic illustration of elements of an embodiment of an example computing device; and

[001 0] Fig. 7 is a schematic illustration of elements of an embodiment of a server type computing device.

[001 1 ] Persons of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate that elements in the figures are illustrated for simplicity and clarity so not all connections and options have been shown to avoid obscuring the inventive aspects. For example, common but well-understood elements that are useful or necessary in a commercially feasible embodiment are not often depicted in order to facilitate a less obstructed view of these various embodiments of the present disclosure. It will be further appreciated that certain actions and/or steps may be described or depicted in a particular order of occurrence while those skilled in the art will understand that such specificity with respect to sequence is not actually required. It will also be understood that the terms and expressions used herein are to be defined with respect to their corresponding respective areas of inquiry and study except where specific meaning have otherwise been set forth herein.

SUMMARY

[001 2] The following presents a simplified summary of the present disclosure in order to provide a basic understanding of some aspects of the disclosure. This summary is not an extensive overview of the disclosure. It is not intended to identify key or critical elements of the disclosure or to delineate the scope of the disclosure. The following summary merely presents some concepts of the disclosure in a simplified form as a prelude to the more detailed description provided below.

[001 3] In embodiments, the disclosure describes systems and methods for provide additional veracity to product reviews by including sensors with product packaging. In some embodiments, the sensors may indicate that a reviewer actually received a product, opened the box, and/or used the product in such a way so as to enable a legitimate review.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[001 4] The present invention now will be described more fully hereinafter with reference to the accompanying drawings, which form a part hereof, and which show, by way of illustration, specific exemplary embodiments by which the invention may be practiced. These illustrations and exemplary embodiments are presented with the understanding that the present disclosure is an exemplification of the principles of one or more inventions and is not intended to limit any one of the inventions to the embodiments illustrated. The invention may be embodied in many different forms and should not be construed as limited to the embodiments set forth herein; rather, these embodiments are provided so that this disclosure will be thorough and complete, and will fully convey the scope of the invention to those skilled in the art. Among other things, the present invention may be embodied as methods or devices. Accordingly, the present invention may take the form of an entirely hardware embodiment, an entirely software embodiment or an

embodiment combining software and hardware aspects. The following detailed description is, therefore, not to be taken in a limiting sense.

[001 5] In an increasingly online and e-commerce marketplace, online product reviews have become increasingly important for customers to determine the nature and quality of a product prior to purchase. They may additionally important to merchants, retailers, and other businesses who may depend on product reviews to signal the quality of their products. It has, however, become increasingly difficult for potential customers to determine the legitimacy of any given product review because many product reviews may be disingenuously created by entities standing to gain by providing fraudulent positive or negative reviews of a product. For example, a company hoping to sell a particular product or products may pay or otherwise incentivize someone to leave a fraudulent positive review of a product that person may not have actually ever used. Conversely, a business may pay or otherwise incentivize an entity to leave negative reviews for a competitor’s product perhaps in order to drive sales to the business’s products instead. It is also contemplated that businesses may set up fake accounts for websites or services that receive reviews and use those fake accounts to leave fraudulent positive or negative reviews as desired by the underlying business. These fraudulent reviews may drive up the demand for the reviewed product or drive demand away from a product depending on the nature of the review.

[001 6] In some embodiments, the disclosure describes systems and methods for intelligent product reviews that may help decrease the occurrence of fraudulent product reviews. In some embodiments, the disclosure describes an intelligent usage tracking system that may track the usage of a purchased product by a reviewer to help ensure

that the reviewer is a legitimate purchaser. In some embodiments, the system may link the actual usage of the purchased product to the content of a review provided by the particular purchaser to ensure the review is genuine.

[001 7] In some embodiments, the usage tracking system may include incorporating sensors into boxes or packaging of products that may sense when the product has been unboxed. Additionally, the sensors may determine the usage of an unboxed product by sensing how or for how long a product has been used once removed from the box. Various types of sensors may be used to detect box opening and/or subsequent usage, such as motion sensors, vibration sensors, acoustic sensors, etc. The sensors may be simply included in the box, may be attached to the boxed product, or included in the manufacturing design of some items. In some embodiments, the usage tracking system may utilize sensors included in the boxed product itself. The sensor may communicate with the usage tracking system to verify a particular product review was left by someone that has opened a boxed product and perhaps even used it. In some embodiments, the review may include some visual indicator showing that the reviewer had in fact opened and used the product being reviewed, adding to the review’s legitimacy. Various possible embodiments of the usage tracking system and the environments in which it may operate are described in further detail herein.

[001 8] Figures 1A and 1 B illustrate diagrams of elements included in one embodiment of a usage tracking system 100. The system 100 may include a user computing device 102, such as a personal computer, laptop, tablet, smart phone, or any other device capable of making purchases online or at a merchant store. In some embodiments, the user computing device 102 may be replaced by a credit card or by a merchant point of sale (POS) device configured to receive a customer’s payment information and process payment for a product. The user computing device 102 may be capable of communicating with other computers or servers over a digital communications network such as the Internet, local area networks (LAN), or any other network suitable of transferring data from the user computing device 102 known in the art. In completing a purchase or placing an order at 103, purchase information may be transmitted over the digital communication network to a merchant server 106. In some embodiments, the purchase information may be also transmitted to a payment service server 104. In some embodiments, the payment service server may be operated by a payment service provider, such as a credit card company, a bank, a credit union, etc. In some embodiments, the purchase information will already have been sent to the payment service server 104 at 101 for pre-purchase approval, or in some embodiments, the purchase information may be sent to the payment service server 104 after the purchase has taken place. The payment information may include, in some embodiments, the nature of the purchased product, the amount paid, the quantity of products purchased, when and where the product may be delivered (if applicable), etc.

[001 9] In some embodiments, the merchant server 106 may be run by an online e-commerce marketplace with an e-commerce website, by an individual retailer operating in a brick and mortar store or online, or other suitable entities selling or providing products that may be the subject of online reviews. Once the merchant server 106 receives purchase information for a particular order, the merchant server may prepare sensor information that may include sensor characteristics particular to that order. In some embodiments, the merchant or merchant server 106 may determine, based on the

product type or other purchase information that may be associated within the product ID, what type of usage sensor should be included with the product, and what the usage sensors may be sensing. For example, some products may only have sensors included in or on the shipping box or packaging that may indicate that the box and/or package has or has not been opened once delivered. Some products may include usage sensors that additionally sense whether the product has been used, or for how long the product has been used. In some embodiments, the sensor may include global positioning system (GPS) capability or other location-sensing technology to help determine whether the product has been delivered to the user. Additional types of sensors that may be used for varying products and applications is described in more detail below. The sensor information or data may additionally include a product identifier (product ID) identifying the type of product or even the precise serial number of the product being shipped to the user. In some embodiments, the sensor information may include a user identifier (user ID) that may be used along with the product ID to help verify that the user who purchased the product with that product ID may be the user who subsequently submits a product review for a product with that product ID that matches the particular usage sensor.

[0020] In some embodiments, once the merchant or merchant server 106 has prepared the sensor information, the merchant server may, at 107, transmit the sensor information to a logistics server 108. In some embodiments, the merchant server 106 may additionally or alternatively, at 105, transmit the sensor information to the payment service server 104. In such embodiments, the payment service server 104 may correlate the sensor information with the rest of the purchase information. In some embodiments, the logistics server 108 may be operated by a logistics company that may be responsible for preparing the packaging, sensors, boxes, and delivery of the purchased product. In some embodiments, the logistics server 108 may be run by the same entity as the merchant server 106, or in some embodiments, the logistics server may be the same as the merchant server.

[0021 ] In some embodiments, the logistics server 108 may, based on the sensor information and purchase information, prepare the purchased product to be shipped along with an appropriate usage sensor 1 14, at 109, creating a smart package 1 10. The purchased product may already be in the possession of the logistics company or merchant, such as being stored in a warehouse, or may be acquired from another entity and brought to the warehouse or other location for pairing with the appropriate sensor. In some embodiments, the purchased product may already have a sensor included, such as by design, and the sensor may then be programed in substantially any location and prepared for shipping to the user. In some embodiments, at 1 1 1 , the smart package 1 10 including the usage sensor 1 14 may be shipped to the user location 1 12 by the logistics company, merchant, or another third party delivery service. In some embodiments, the logistics server 108 or delivery service may confirm that the smart package has been successfully delivered along with the time and date of delivery. This delivery confirmation may be confirmed, in some embodiments, by GPS or location sensors included in the smart package or on the product itself.

[0022] Although Figs. 1A and 1 B and the description above refer to a user making purchases from a merchant server online via a user computing device, it is also contemplated herein that a user may purchase a product in a brick and mortar store and still be included in the usage tracking system 100. For example, in some embodiments, a usage sensor 1 14 may already be included in the product packaging or in the product itself when in the merchant store. In some embodiments, the usage sensor may be activated upon purchasing the product, or may be a passive sensor that needs no specific activation. When the product is purchased by the user, the merchant may scan a barcode, read an RFID reader, or connect to the usage sensor some other way in order to record sensor data on the merchant server 106. In some embodiments, the usage sensor 1 14 may be placed in the product packaging at the point of sale. In some embodiments, the user may use a payment method to purchase the product that is associated with the payment service operating the payment service server 104. In such embodiments, the payment service server 104 may then have a record that the particular user with a particular user ID has purchased a produce with a particular product ID. The linking between the user ID and the product ID may then be used to verify reviews that the user may submit regarding the product with product ID.

[0023] Referring to Fig. 1 B, the user computing device 102 may be connected to a digital communication network 1 16 using a wired Internet connection, WiFi, Bluetooth, cellular data networks, near field communication (NFC), radio frequency identification (RFID), etc. In some embodiments, the user may, at 1 13, use the user computing device 102 to submit a review of the product online using a third-party review website, the merchant’s site, or another review forum where products may be rated and reviewed. In some embodiments, the product review forum may be related to the merchant, but may not be related in other embodiments.

[0024] In some embodiments, the usage sensor 1 14 may provide veracity to a product rating by a user by transmitting product use information. In some embodiments, the usage sensor 1 14 may include wireless communication capabilities and may transmit data over the air, such as via WiFi, Bluetooth, cellular data networks, near field communication (NFC), radio frequency identification (RFID), etc. The usage sensor 1 14 may sense any of a variety of product uses, for example, opening the smart package box, opening the product packaging, powering on the product (if applicable), etc. In some embodiments, the usage sensor 1 14 may, at 1 13, transmit product use information or data to a user computing device 102 via any of the methods described above, or any other suitable method. Alternatively or additionally, the usage sensor 1 14 may include a quick response (QR) code readable by a QR code reader on the user computing device 102 or otherwise.

[0025] In some embodiments, the usage sensor 1 14 may additionally or alternatively connect to a user’s WiFi network, smart hub (e.g., Amazon Echo, Google Flome, Apple FlomePod, etc), or other network connection in order to transmit sensor information via a digital communication network 1 16, such as the Internet. In some such embodiments, the usage sensor may be granted access to a user’s WiFi or other network, or may grant such access upon completing the product purchase such that the connection may be made immediately upon coming in range of the network. For example, in some embodiments, the user may provide a network key or other access information when purchasing a product knowing that doing so will enable the user to more reliably leave product reviews upon receiving the product.

[0026] Referring again to Fig. 1 B, once network access has been achieved, the usage sensor 1 14 may at 1 17, transmit product use data over the digital communication network 1 16 and, at 1 19, on to the merchant server 106 or other review forum. In some

embodiments, the product use data may, at 121 , be additionally or alternatively transmitted to the payment service server 104. In some embodiments, at 123, the merchant server 106 may transmit review and product use data to the payment service server 104 instead or in addition to the data being transmitted from the usage sensor 1 14 to the payment service server.

[0027] In some embodiments, the product data may be encrypted before the product data is communicated. In this way, it may be more difficult for an undesired user to submit fraudulent data. In yet another embodiment, the product data may include the use of token servers to further disguise the data. In yet another embodiments, the product data and other communication data may use one or more protocols to communicate and the protocols may also be used with application program interfaces (APIs) to request data and respond with data.

[0028] In some embodiments, the merchant server 106 or other review forum may require use data from product’s usage sensor to permit a user to leave a product review. For example, a merchant or other entity may determine that a user must verify that the user has opened the smart package 1 10 before permitting the user to leave a product review for that product. In such embodiments, the user may be prompted to verify the usage using the usage tracker by, for example, connecting to the usage sensor 1 14 over WiFi, or receiving RFID information, or by scanning a QR code on the sensor. In embodiments, such as at 1 17, product use data may be transmitted directly to the merchant server 106, the user may not be required to independently provide verification via the usage sensor because the merchant server may already have the data. If the product use information provided to the user computing device 102 or to the merchant

server 106 from the usage sensor 1 14 meets a particular predetermined usage threshold (e.g., opening the smart package), then the review forum or merchant server 106 may permit the user to submit a product review. In some embodiments, the predetermined usage threshold may include opening the smart packaging, powering on the product, using the product in a particular way, using the product for a particular amount of time, letting a predetermined amount of time pass after opening the smart package 1 10, moving the product in a predetermined way, etc. Each of these and other product uses may be sensed by usage sensors that include wide ranging sensor technology, such as piezoelectric strips, pressure sensors, temperature sensors, motion sensors, accelerometers, gyroscopic sensors, timers, humidity sensors, proximity sensors, touch sensors, or any other suitable sensing technology to sense a particular predetermined threshold usage.

[0029] In some embodiments, the product use data may alternatively permit use of a validation indication displayed along with the user’s review. For example, the review forum may receive and display review information from the user computing device 102 or directly from the usage sensor 1 14, and additional display a validation indication adjacent the user’s product review based on the product use data from the usage sensor 1 14. In such embodiments, readers of the user’s product review may see the validation indication and ascribe more weight to the validated review in contrast to a product review without the validation indication. As with other embodiments, the merchant server 106 or other review forum may demand predetermined usage thresholds be reached before permitting a validation indication to be displayed along with a review. For example, certain merchants or review forums may set a usage threshold as simply opening the smart

package containing the product, while others may set a usage threshold as using a product for a predetermined amount of time before permitting a validation indication. The validation indication may take any suitable form, but in some embodiments may be an icon or other graphical representation displayed adjacent the user’s product review, or may group validated reviews under a separate heading or category than non-validated reviews.

[0030] In some embodiments, a merchant, maker of a product, or a review forum may demand that a user provide evidence of varying levels of usage in order to leave reviews containing particular subject. For example, if a usage sensor 114 has merely provided product use data indicating that the smart package has been opened but no further evidence of use, a merchant may limit a user’s product review to only the immediate condition of the product or the packaging but not permit further reviews of the product’s long-term performance. In another example, if a usage sensor 114 has provided product use data indicating that the product has been used but only for a relatively short amount of time, a merchant or review forum may permit review subject matter from a user only relating to or describing short-term use but not for long-term durability or satisfaction. In another example, a merchant or review forum may permit review subject matter relating to long-term product use only when the merchant server 106 has received product use data indicating sustained product use for a predetermined time period.

[0031 ] In some embodiments, a usage tracking software application on the user computing device 102 may receive the product use data from the usage sensor 114 and prompt the user to make reviews based on the product use data. The prompts may be through visual notifications, email, text messaging, audible alerts, or any other suitable notifying method. In some embodiments, the prompts need not be sent via usage tracking software on the user computing device, but may instead be sent from the merchant server 106, the payment service server 104, or another review forum included in the usage tracking system 100. In some embodiments, the system 100 may prompt a user to review packaging quality when the usage tracking system 100 determines that the smart package 1 10 has been delivered. In some embodiments, the usage tracking system 100 may prompt the user to submit a review when the usage tracking system 100 determines that the smart packaging has been opened or unboxed. In some embodiments, the usage tracking system 100 may prompt the user to submit a review after a predetermined length of time has passed since unboxing, or upon a predetermined time the usage sensor 1 14 determines that the product has been used. In some embodiments, the usage tracking system 100 may prompt the user to submit a product review periodically over the life of a product based on product use data received from the usage sensor 1 14. In embodiments in which the usage sensor 1 14 may connect with a user’s smart hub, review prompts may alternatively or additionally be provided by the smart hub. For example, upon receiving the smart package 1 10, the user’s smart hub may ask the user whether the user would like to submit a review. The user may dictate the review to the smart hub or submit a review via the user computing device 102. In other embodiments, the smart hub may prompt the user to submit additional product reviews based on the product user data received from the usage sensor 1 14.

[0032] Fig. 2 illustrates an exemplary embodiment of a user computing device 102 that includes a usage tracking software application 200. In such embodiments, the usage tracking application 200 may, upon receiving product use data from the usage sensor 1 14 or from the merchant server 106, display a review notification 202. The review notification 202 may inform that user that product use data has been received and query the user whether the user would like to submit a product review based on that product use data. In response to the notification 202, the user may respond by selecting a yes button 204 or a no button 206 depending on whether the user chooses to submit a review. It should be understood that the usage tracking software application 200 shown in Fig. 2 is merely exemplary, and that those skilled in the art would understand that the notifications and review submissions described herein may be provided in various ways.

[0033] In some embodiments, the usage tracking application 200 may additionally provide a user with options to customize that user’s interaction and participation in providing product reviews. For example, in some embodiments, a user may make customization selections indicating that the usage tracking application 200 should only provide notifications to leave product reviews for certain types of product categories, for products above or below a predetermined price threshold, or any other suitable product-type custom izations. In some embodiments, the usage tracking application 200 may provide a user with options to customize when the user would like to receive notifications to leave a product review. For example, a user may select an option requesting that the usage tracking application 200 trigger a review reminder on the user computing device when a smart package has been delivered, and when the product use data indicates that the user has used the product for a predetermined length of time. In some embodiments, the usage tracking application 200 may provide the user with options related to how much of the product use data collected by the usage sensors may be shared with the merchant server 106, the payment service server 104, a review portal or forum, or any other third- party entity. Of course, other levels and types of customization are also contemplated herein.

[0034] Referring to Fig. 3, another embodiment of the usage tracking system 300 may include a review portal 350 that may be operated by, for example, a merchant 352 via a merchant server 306, or may be a review forum operated by a third-party entity on a third party server. In some embodiments, the review portal 350 may be run through a payment service server 304. A user computing device 302 may be connected to the Internet or other digital communication network enabling the user computing device to make purchases online, submit reviews online, or connect to other computers and servers as is generally known in the art. The user may have a user merchant account 320 associated with the merchant server 306 and may have a user payment account 322 associated with the payment service server 304. In some embodiments, the user may be able to access the user merchant account 320 and the user payment account 322 online via the user computing device 302. In some embodiments, the user may, at 303, use the user computing device 302 to order a product online from the merchant 352 via the merchant server 306. In some embodiments, the user may, at 305, pay for the product using the user payment account 322. In such embodiments, the merchant server 306 and the payment service server 304 may receive purchase information related to the purchased product. The purchase information may include information about the transaction, such as the price paid, details about the product, quantities of the product ordered, etc. The merchant server 306 may store the purchase information in the user merchant account 320 and the payment service server 304 may store the purchase information in the user payment account, keeping a record of the products purchased by the user.

[0035] At 307, the merchant 352 may send a smart package 310 to the user. As described in further detail in relation to Fig. 1 A, the merchant may, either itself or through a logistics company, prepare the smart package 310 using a usage sensor 314 with sufficient capabilities to sense particular sorts of usage based on sensor information. After the smart package 310 is delivered to the user, the usage sensor 314 may, at 309, be paired with the user computing device 302 or otherwise connected to a digital communications network so as to enable digital communication with the review portal 350. At 31 1 , the usage sensor 314 may share product use data with the review portal 350. Product use data may be any of the different types of uses described above with reference to Figs. 1A and 1 B, such as unboxing the product, powering on the product, etc. At 313, the payment service server 304 may, in some embodiments, share at least portions of the transaction history of the user payment account 322, which may provide evidence that the user has actually purchased a particular product that the user would like to review. The user transaction history may be transmitted via the digital communication network or another suitable payment network as generally known in the art. In some embodiments, the payment service server 304 may additionally or alternatively share the user’s transaction history for the particular product category for the product purchased from the merchant 352. For example, if the user purchases a fishing rod from the merchant 352, the payment service server 304 may share user transaction history for other products relating to fishing or other outdoor sports.

[0036] At 315, the user may, via the user computing device 302, submit or attempt to submit a review of the product purchased from the merchant 352. In some embodiments, the review portal 350 may collect and share product reviews that may be referenced

online. The review portal 350 may use the usage tracking system 300 to verify or rate the veracity of a particular product review using the tools described herein as relating to the usage tracking system. For example, in some embodiments, the review portal 350 may include a rating system to indicate the relative confidence that a reviewing user has actually purchased and used the reviewed product. The rating system may take into account various sources of data in providing a review reliability score. In some embodiments, the review reliability score may be based on product use data received from the usage sensor 314, the transaction history with the merchant 352 as provided by the merchant server 306, and/or the transaction history of the user in the applicable product category as provided by the payment service server 304. For example, a user may submit a product review to the review portal 350 using the user merchant account 320 associated with that user. Alternatively, the review may be submitted using the user payment account 322 associated with the user. In other embodiments, the user may submit a review using an account or other factors that identify the user with respect to the review portal 350.

[0037] Once the review portal 350 has received a product review from the user computing device 302, the review portal may assign a veracity score to the product review based on at least one veracity factor. In some embodiments, an indication from the payment service server 304 based on the user payment account 322 that the user has purchased the reviewed item may provide a first veracity level. Further, an indication from the payment service server 304 that the user has a transaction history indicating a pattern or purchasing products in the reviewed product’s product category may provide a second veracity level. Additional or alternative data in user payment account 322 transaction or demographic history may be used to establish additional veracity levels that may be attributed to a particular product review.

[0038] In some embodiments, the product use data received from the usage sensor 314 may also represent one or more veracity factors. For example, a signal from the usage sensor 314 indicating that a smart package 310 containing the reviewed product was delivered to the user may provide a first veracity level, and an indication the smart package was unboxed may provide a second veracity level. In some embodiments, product use data from the usage sensor 314 indicating that the product was used in a certain way or for a predetermined amount of time may provide a third veracity level. It should be understood that alternative or additional veracity levels may be achieved based on different types of product use data from the usage sensor 314.

[0039] In some embodiments, the review portal 350 may use one or more of a variety of different methods to determine and to indicate the veracity levels of a particular review with a veracity indicator. For example, in some embodiments, the review portal 350 may implement a color-coding scheme to show varying levels of review trustworthiness. In such embodiments, the review portal 350 may include an icon or other shape or symbol colored red to indicate that the review is associated with no veracity levels, or the minimum amount of trustworthiness. In some embodiments, the review portal 350 may color the background displayed with the review, the text of the review, the title of the review, or any other suitable portion of the review that would indicate to a reader of the review that the review has minimum veracity. The review portal 350 may associate a yellow color with reviews that may have a first veracity level associated with them, or with levels of trustworthiness determined based on certain types of product usage data, user transaction history, demographics, user review history, and various other data. Reviews indicated with a yellow color may represent a medium level of trustworthiness. The review portal 350 may associated a green color with product reviews carrying a maximum level of trustworthiness. For example, in some embodiments, the review portal 350 may use or permit a green coloration when a user has a transaction history consistent with the relevant product category and when the usage sensor 314 provides particular product usage data, such as product use for a predetermined amount of time or manner. Such veracity levels may indicate that a product review may be more trustworthy if the review is submitted by a user and the review portal receives evidence that the user has actually purchased the product, received the product, opened the product, and/or used the product.

[0040] In some embodiments, the review portal 350 may use a numerically-based system to indicate product review trustworthiness. For example, the review portal may include a veracity level index between 0 and 100 veracity points, or any other suitable range of numbers, where 0 veracity points indicates a minimum veracity level and 100 veracity points indicates a maximum veracity level. Each of the various types of veracity factors described herein relating to data received from the payment service server 304, the merchant server 306, etc., may be factors in determining a veracity level as described by the veracity level index. For example, data that the user leaving a product review has actually purchased the reviewed product may boost the veracity level by 10 veracity points, and transaction history data indicating that the user has purchased other products in the same product category a the reviewed product may boost the veracity level by 10 points. Data indicating that the product has been delivered to the user may boost the veracity level by 15 veracity points. In some embodiments, data received from the usage sensor 314 indicating that the smart package 310 containing the reviewed product has been opened may boost a review’s veracity level by 20 points, and data from the usage sensors indicating that the reviewed product has been used for a predetermined length of time may boost the veracity level by 20 points, or by an amount of points that increases based on the amount of time the product has been used, up to some maximum number of veracity points. In some embodiments, a particular user’s product review history may also provide veracity factors. For example, the review portal 350 may determine that a particular viewer has reviewed products for a wide variety of merchants and left generally positive reviews, which may indicate that the user is not being paid or otherwise incentivized to leave those reviews, warranting a lower veracity level. Conversely, the review portal 350 may determine that a particular user has left many negative reviews in the past, indicating that the user may be fake or may be incentivized by a third-party to negatively review competing products. Of course, those skilled in the art will understand that any weight may be allotted to any of the variety of veracity factors, including factors not listed herein. Those skilled in the art will also understand that color-based veracity levels and numbers-based veracity levels are merely example embodiments of how the review portal 350 may determine and display levels of trustworthiness afforded to particular product reviews.

[0041 ] In some embodiments, it may be desirable for the payment service server 304 to withhold from the review portal 350 detailed or otherwise private transaction history data for a particular user or group of users. In such embodiments, the payment service server 304 may distill a user’s transaction history into a score based on a particular reviewed product or otherwise anonymize the user’s transaction history explicitly. In other embodiments, the payment service server 304 may, based on the particular product purchased by the user and the user payment account 322 transaction history, may determine a veracity level that may be transmitted to the review portal 350 in lieu of the actual transaction history. In such embodiments, the user transaction history may remain private between the user and the payment service entity, but the user’s purchase history may still help bolster the veracity levels of product reviews submitted by that user.

[0042] In some embodiments, the review portal 350 or the entity operating the review portal may require that product reviews include a certain level of veracity or trustworthiness in order to be submitted or to be displayed. For example, the review portal 350 may include a veracity threshold such that it is configured only to accept product reviews that have a veracity level of at least 30 veracity points, or at least 50 veracity points in other embodiments. In some embodiments, such veracity thresholds may be predetermined by the merchant 352 who sold the reviewed product, or may be set by the entity operating the review portal 350 to help reduce the number of untrustworthy product reviews. In some embodiments, even if a review portal 350 may accept and display product reviews with low veracity levels, the review portal may provide an option for a reader of the product reviews to filter out or otherwise hide product reviews below a certain threshold veracity level. For example, a reader of reviews on the review portal 350 may request that the review portal 350 hide product reviews with a veracity rating below a predetermined threshold, such as 50 veracity points.

[0043] Referring again to Fig. 3, in some embodiments of the usage tracking system 300, the review portal 350 may, at 317, transmit product reviews or product review data to the merchant server 306 and/or may, at 319, transmit product reviews or product review data to the payment service server 304. In some embodiments, the merchant 352 may use product review data received by the merchant server 306 from the review portal 350 in order to improve products, to improve marketing efforts, or otherwise leverage the review data and product use data in order to sell more products or better server the merchant’s customers. In some embodiments, the product review data and product use data received by the payment service server 304 may be used by a payment servicer to provide coupons or other marketing material for particular products or categories of products, which may increase use of the payment servicer to make purchases.

[0044] Fig. 4 shows an embodiment of a method 400 for using the usage tracking system described herein. At 402, the system may receive a purchase order for a product from a user. The purchase order may include a user ID and a product ID, or other information sufficient to identify the user or a user account associated with making the order, and information to identify the product being ordered or purchased. At 404, the system may prepare a smart package, such as smart package 1 10 in FIGs. 1A and 1 B, that may include the purchased product and a usage sensor, such as usage sensor 1 14 in FIGs. 1A and 1 B. As described herein, in some embodiments, the usage sensor may be any of a variety of sensors that may detect and transmit information regarding product use data. For example, the usage sensor may detect smart package delivery, unboxing of the smart package, unboxing of the product, use of the product, duration of use, etc. At 406, the system may include receiving product use data from the usage sensor. Depending on the type of product or usage sensor, the use data may include reports of one-time events, or ongoing use of a product in some embodiments. Generally, the type of product use data may vary depending on the type of product use may provide an indication that the user has actually received and is using the product such that a review based on that use may be trustworthy. At 408, the system may receive a product review from a user computing device. The product review may include the product ID associated with the purchased product and a user ID associated with the user or a user account. At 410, the system may determine whether the user ID and product ID associated with the purchase order matches the user ID and product ID associated with the product review. In some embodiments, if the user ID or product ID do not match the system may reject the product review at 412. In some embodiments, such as the embodiments described herein with systems that may include a veracity indicator for the trustworthiness of a review, the system may, at 414, withhold displaying any type of veracity indicator when the user ID or product ID does not match. In some embodiments, the system may alternatively display a veracity indicator that represents a low level of trustworthiness because the user ID or product ID do not match.

[0045] If the system determines that the user ID and product ID do match, then the system may, at 416, determine whether the product use data received from the usage sensor has indicated an adequate level of product usage. As described in more detail above, different levels of product usage may be detected by different types of usage sensors, and the levels of product usage reflected in the product use data may vary by embodiment, by product type, by merchant preference, review forum preference, etc. In some embodiments, when the system determines that the product use data does not reflect adequate product usage to accept a product review, the system may, at 412, reject the product review. In some embodiments, the system may, at 414, accept the review

but withhold displaying a veracity indicator along with the review, or show only a low level of trustworthiness. In some embodiments, if the system determines that the product use data indicates adequate product usage by a suitable measure, the system may, at 418, display the product review submitted by the user and, at 420, display a veracity indicator indicative of the product use data received. In some embodiments, the veracity indicator may be a number rating system, a colored icon system, or any other suitable ratings system to indicate levels of review trustworthiness.

[0046] Fig. 5 shows another method 500 of using the usage tracking system. Similar to method 400, at 502, the system may receive a purchase order for a product from a user. The purchase order may include a user ID and a product ID, or other information sufficient to identify the user or a user account associated with making the order, and information to identify the product being ordered or purchased. At 504, the system may prepare a smart package, such as smart package 1 10 in FIGs. 1A and 1 B, that may include the purchased product and a usage sensor, such as usage sensor 1 14 in FIGs. 1A and 1 B. As described herein, in some embodiments, the usage sensor may be any of a variety of sensors that may detect and transmit information regarding product use data. For example, the usage sensor may detect smart package delivery, unboxing of the smart package, unboxing of the product, use of the product, duration of use, etc. At 506, the system may include receiving product use data from the usage sensor. Depending on the type of product or usage sensor, the use data may include reports of one-time events, or ongoing use of a product in some embodiments. Generally, the type of product use data may vary depending on the type of product use may provide an indication that the user has actually received and is using the product such that a review based on that use may be trustworthy. At 508, the system may receive a product review from a user computing device. The product review may include the product ID associated with the purchased product and a user ID associated with the user or a user account.

[0047] At 510, the system may confirm that the product ID and user ID received with the product review match the user ID and product ID received in the product use data by the usage sensor. At 512, the system may determine a veracity score for a product review based on the product use data. The methodology to determine a veracity score may differ from embodiment to embodiment and are described in more detail above. At 514, the system may determine whether a veracity score threshold applies to the particular review, or whether the system has been instructed to apply a veracity score threshold at all. If no veracity score threshold is required, the system may, at 518, display the product review along with the determined veracity score. If a veracity score threshold is in place, the system may, at 516, determine whether the veracity score determined for the product review is above the veracity score threshold. If not, in some embodiments, the system may, at 520, reject the product review. If the veracity score is above the threshold, the system may, at 518, display the product review along with the veracity score threshold.

[0048] Fig. 6 is a simplified illustration of the physical elements that make up an embodiment of a user computing device 102 and Fig. 7 is a simplified illustration of the physical elements that make up an embodiment of a server type computing device, such as the payment service server 104, but the merchant server 106, and the logistics servers 108, may reflect similar physical elements in some embodiments. Referring to Fig. 6, a sample user computing device 102 is illustrated that is physically configured according to be part of the system 100. The user computing device 102 may have a processor 1451

that is physically configured according to computer executable instructions. In some embodiments, the processor can be specially designed or configured to optimize communication between the server 104 and the user computing device 102 relating to the payment selection service described herein. The user computing device 102 may have a portable power supply 1455 such as a battery, which may be rechargeable. It may also have a sound and video module 1461 which assists in displaying video and sound and may turn off when not in use to conserve power and battery life. The user computing device 102 may also have volatile memory 1465 and non-volatile memory 1471 . The user computing device 102 may have GPS capabilities that may be a separate circuit or may be part of the processor 1451. There also may be an input/output bus 1475 that shuttles data to and from the various user input/output devices such as a microphone, a camera 59, a display 56, or other input/output devices. The user computing device 102 also may control communicating with the networks, such as communication network 60 in Fig. 1 , either through wireless or wired devices. Of course, this is just one embodiment of the user computing device 102 and the number and types of user computing devices 102 is limited only by the imagination.

[0049] The physical elements that make up an embodiment of a server, such as the payment service server 104, are further illustrated in Fig. 7. In some embodiments, the payment server is specially configured to run the payment selection service as described herein. At a high level, the payment service server 104 may include a digital storage such as a magnetic disk, an optical disk, flash storage, non-volatile storage, etc. Structured data may be stored in the digital storage such as in a database. More specifically, the server 104 may have a processor 1500 that is physically configured

according to computer executable instructions. In some embodiments, the processor 1500 can be specially designed or configured to optimize communication between a user computing device, such as user computing device 102, and the server 104 relating to the payment selection service as described herein. The server 104 may also have a sound and video module 1505 which assists in displaying video and sound and may turn off when not in use to conserve power and battery life. The server 104 may also have volatile memory 1510 and non-volatile memory 1515.

[0050] A database 1525 for digitally storing structured data may be stored in the memory 1510 or 1515 or may be separate. The database 1525 may also be part of a cloud of servers and may be stored in a distributed manner across a plurality of servers. There also may be an input/output bus 1520 that shuttles data to and from the various user input devices such as a microphone, a camera, a display monitor or screen, etc. The input/output bus 1520 also may control communicating with the networks, such as communication network 60 and payment network 75, either through wireless or wired devices. In some embodiments, a payment selection controller for running the payment selection service may be located on the user computing device 102. However, in other embodiments, the payment selection controller may be located on payment service server 104, or both the user computing device 102 and the server 104. Of course, this is just one embodiment of the payment service server 104 and additional types of servers are contemplated herein.

[0051 ] The various participants and elements described herein may operate one or more computer apparatuses to facilitate the functions described herein. Any of the elements in the above-described Figures, including any servers, user terminals, or

databases, may use any suitable number of subsystems to facilitate the functions described herein.

[0052] Any of the software components or functions described in this application, may be implemented as software code or computer readable instructions that may be executed by at least one processor using any suitable computer language such as, for example, Java, C++ or Perl using, for example, conventional or object-oriented techniques. In some examples, the at least one processor may be specifically programmed.

[0053] The software code may be stored as a series of instructions, or commands on a non-transitory computer readable medium, such as a random access memory (RAM), a read only memory (ROM), a magnetic medium such as a hard-drive or a floppy disk, or an optical medium such as a CD-ROM. Any such computer readable medium may reside on or within a single computational apparatus, and may be present on or within different computational apparatuses within a system or network.

[0054] It may be understood that the present invention as described above can be implemented in the form of control logic using computer software in a modular or integrated manner. Based on the disclosure and teachings provided herein, a person of ordinary skill in the art may know and appreciate other ways and/or methods to implement the present invention using hardware and a combination of hardware and software.

[0055] The above description is illustrative and is not restrictive. Many variations of the invention will become apparent to those skilled in the art upon review of the disclosure. The scope of the invention should, therefore, be determined not with reference to the

above description, but instead should be determined with reference to the pending claims along with their full scope or equivalents.

[0056] One or more features from any embodiment may be combined with one or more features of any other embodiment without departing from the scope of the invention. A recitation of “a”,“an” or“the” is intended to mean“one or more” unless specifically indicated to the contrary.

[0057] One or more of the elements of the present system may be claimed as means for accomplishing a particular function. Where such means-plus-function elements are used to describe certain elements of a claimed system it will be understood by those of ordinary skill in the art having the present specification, figures and claims before them, that the corresponding structure is a general purpose computer, processor, or microprocessor (as the case may be) programmed (or physically configured) to perform the particularly recited function using functionality found in any general purpose computer without special programming and/or by implementing one or more algorithms to achieve the recited functionality. As would be understood by those of ordinary skill in the art that algorithm may be expressed within this disclosure as a mathematical formula, a flow chart, a narrative, and/or in any other manner that provides sufficient structure for those of ordinary skill in the art to implement the recited process and its equivalents.

[0058] While the present disclosure may be embodied in many different forms, the drawings and discussion are presented with the understanding that the present disclosure is an exemplification of the principles of one or more inventions and is not intended to limit any one of the inventions to the embodiments illustrated.

[0059] The present disclosure provides a solution to the long-felt need described above. In particular, the system and methods described herein may be configured to provide reliable and substantially real-time usage tracking information to merchants, review forums, and other customers to reduce the occurrence or likelihood of fraudulent reviews and create a more transparent and trustworthy marketplace. Such a system may lead to increased trust in markets and result in increased transactions. Further advantages and modifications of the above described system and method will readily occur to those skilled in the art. The disclosure, in its broader aspects, is therefore not limited to the specific details, representative system and methods, and illustrative examples shown and described above. Various modifications and variations can be made to the above specification without departing from the scope or spirit of the present disclosure, and it is intended that the present disclosure covers all such modifications and variations provided they come within the scope of the following claims and their equivalents.