Monday, May 22, 2017

Oh, patents! Pavegen Systems

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

According to Pavegen Systems, it's not only patents on the soles of your shoes, it’s POWER! Power to light up the world, thousands of footsteps at a time, every day! 

Pavegen Systems is a British company that manufactures pavement tiles designed to harvest the kinetic energy of pedestrian footsteps and/or vehicle traffic, in view of transforming this energy into electricity used for street lamps and buildings. Technically, the invention consists in capturing kinetic energy in the form of linear motion and translating it to rotational movement suitable for driving the rotor of an electric generator.   

Beyond generating about 2.1 watts per hour of energy in high pedestrian traffic areas (or 20 seconds of light with each footstep), the Pavegen Systems tiles also become part of the Internet of Things (IoT), creating data for use in marketing, for transportation and in municipalities. “It’s knowing where people are” according to one of the inventors, Laurence Kemball-Cook, CEO and Founder of Pavegen Systems. It is also knowing what people do, when for example the tiles installed in a fitness center are connected to mobile devices, in view of providing various sorts of health fitness feedback to users, considering the number of their steps.

In the future, Pavegen Systems intend to produce tiles to pave roads and harvest the kinetic energy of vehicle traffic. But this is apparently more difficult, considering the tremendous traction forces of heavyweight traffic, and the resistance of the materials required to pave roads.

This real and sparkling clean, green technology, designed for the 21st-century urban center, was awarded the SXSW™ 2017 Interactive Innovation Award in the Smart Cities category.



This invention was disclosed in the following patent family:

The abstract of this invention is included below as well as a patent figure drawing of the Pavegen systems motion converter. 
The present application describes techniques for the harvesting of kinetic energy from the movement of people and/or vehicles. A motion converter is discussed which converts linear progression caused by traffic-related impulse forces, to be converted to rotational motion for driving the rotor of an electricity generator. An assembly for harvesting energy including the motion converter and a floor unit are also described 
          [Abstract - US2013068047 & Family]

References
Pavegen Systems
http://www.pavegen.com
SXSW™ 2017   (South by SouthWest)

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Oh, patents! Tilt Brush

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Have you ever painted in space... without paper.... that is, in 3D VR (Virtual Reality) "using a room as your canvas”?

If you have not and have entertained the thought of jumping into VR with paint brushes, then you are in for a thrilling treat with Tilt Brush -- an award-winning application, which most recently garnered the SXSW 2017 Interactive Innovation Award in the VR and AR category! 

Painting inside 3D VR software (wearing a 3D headset and manipulating the handheld controller palette and brush ) is exactly how you might paint with Tilt Brush, and even record and playback your art piece. Using an extraordinary array of paint brush effects such as dry and wet ink, patterns, metal, lights, animated, volumetric, refraction and music reactive strokes, you can paint, draw, sculpt, animate and re-invent the possibilities --out of 2D Flatland paper, and into 3D space! 

See the Tilt Brush launch video!


Tilt Brush was originally developed by Skillman and Hackett, a company that develops rapid prototyping and VR applications. The company was then purchased in April 2016 by Google Inc, and is now part of the Google VR portfolio.

This invention is disclosed in a family of 2 patents, using a dress form as the anchoring object and fashion design as a possible domain of application:
  • US20160370971 - Dress form for three-dimensional drawing inside virtual reality environment
  • WO2017048685 - Generation of three-dimensional fashion objects by drawing inside a virtual reality environment
The abstract of this invention is included below with the Figure 3 patent drawing.
Systems and methods are described for producing a representation of a display of a three-dimensional virtual reality environment and defining a dress form object within the virtual reality environment. The virtual reality environment is configured to receive interactive commands from at least one input device coupled to a computing device and associated with a user. Fabric movement simulations are generated by animating the dress form object according to configured animation data and displayed in the virtual reality environment. The display being may be generated in response to receiving a movement pattern indicating movement of the dress form object. (Abstract WO2017048685 and US20160370971)

Tilt Brush is available on HTC VIVE and OCULUS Rift VR platform headsets. 

References
Tilt Brush
Blog Drew Skillman
SXSW™ (South by SouthWest)

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Oh, patents! The BeauEr 3x caravan

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Going on a vacation? How about camping in style with a BeauEr caravan, recipient of the 2017 Concours Lépine Grand Prize!

This stylish caravan telescopes, and triples its size in just 20 seconds, with no installation, using patented hydraulics. Once unfolded, the 15 feet wide, and customizable 130 ft2 living area, contains a small kitchen (with a fridge, a sink and 2 burners, a microwave, and lots of storage), a seating area with a large extendable table, a separate sleeping alcove and toilets. Folded back into its compact form, without taking anything apart, the caravan is just 6 feet wide, so that it can easily be hauled around.


European patent EP2330255 discloses this invention, titled in English: Extensible, transportable habitable cell. The English patent Abstract is included below, with 3 patent drawings showing three phases of the telescoping abode for the road 
The cell has a wall including a vertical bottom panel (18) formed of a single plate, and mounted movably relative to a floor panel (17). The bottom panel forms a floor of a habitable module (2) when the module is fully extended with respect to another habitable module (1). A mounting unit mounts the bottom panel by an edge (30) with respect to an edge of the floor panel. The mounting unit mounts another edge (31) of the bottom panel of the wall with another vertical bottom panel (23) of another wall. [Abstract EP2330255]
References
BeauER
http://www.beauer.fr/en/
Concours Lépine
http://www.concours-lepine.com

Monday, May 15, 2017

Oh, patents! Canailles Dream

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

This invention is not only a rascal’s* dream, it is the stuff of parents’ dreams traveling with small infants!

Hard to travel lightly with a small infant… the crib, the bassinet, the stroller, the rocker, the tub, the diaper changing station.. plus all the accessories. The difficulty of packing so much gear for one small passenger is the underlying dilemma and problematic situation addressed in two patents: WO2017042507 titled Suitcase with adjustable legs, and US2014311843 titled Multifunctional case.

Imagine now, an all-in-one, multifunctional solution, in compact form, the size of a large wheeled suitcase, and you will find the Canailles Dream invention, an ingenious 6-in-one (crib + bassinet + stroller + rocker + tub + diaper changing station) solution!

6-in-one no kidding, see the video…!

The Canailles Dream Multi product was engineered by Alexis Crignon, father of two, himself facing the quintessential problem of traveling “lightly” with a newborn…..

This invention was awarded the Prime Minister’s Award at the Concours Lépine in May 2017, and has also garnered quite a few more awards on the journey from design and prototyping to production and marketing.

No worries now, you can pick up and go, with baby and gear in style! 



* The term "canaille", in terms of endearment, means "rascal" in French.

References
Canailles Dream
Concours Lépine 

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Oh, patents! The Concours Lépine

Copyright Françoise Herrmann

Louis Lépine 1846-1933
The Concours Lépine is France’s oldest inventor awards competition! It was founded in 1901 by the Police Commissioner of Paris, Louis Lépine, who even wrote the rules of the contest. The competition was initially designed both to protect and to give exposure to small artisan inventors, manufacturing toys, who were facing growing foreign competition in Paris. To legally protect their inventions, exhibitors were granted patents free of charge. Thus, hundreds of artisan-inventors attended the first 1901 combination Concours-Exposition Lépine.

To date, 116 years later, the Concours Lépine International de Paris retains the ‘exhibit' portion of the event, as it takes place within the auspices of the Foire de Paris (Paris Fair) held every Spring in Paris. It is organized by the Association des Inventeurs et Fabricants Français (AIPF), originally founded in 1901 as the Société des Petits Fabricants et Inventeurs Français (SPFIF). The Concours Lépine also now holds regional competitions, in France, intended to reward young inventors in particular, and European inventors also. The contest is open to all inventors who have received patents for their inventions.

The Concours Lépine retains its original eponymized connections to public service and administration in the designation of the dozens of prizes awarded to inventors. Beyond the Grand Prix du Concours Lépine, the Jury’s Award and the President of the Jury’s Award, the highest award is the Prix du Président de la République (France’s Presidential Award) followed by the Prix du Premier Ministre (the Prime Minister’s Award), Grand Prix du Sénat (Senate Grand Award), Prix de l’Assemblée Générale (House of Representatives Award), Prix du Maire de Paris (Paris Mayor’s Award), the First, Second and Third Police Commissioner Awards, and so forth, including bronze, silver and gold medals and various other French government dignitary and agency awards, such as the INPI Awards (France’s Patent Office Awards)

For a list of the recipients of the 2017 Concours Lépine International de Paris Awards, click here!

References
Concours Lépine
http://www.concours-lepine.com/
Foire de Paris (Paris Fair)
https://en.foiredeparis.fr/

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Oh, patents ! Murano Glass

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

The EPO awards ceremony will take place this year in Venice, Italy, located less than one nautical mile from the small archipelago of Murano, known for its 800-year-old glass manufacturing activity! 800 years… !

Indeed, it was in 1291 that all the Venetian glassmakers were ordered out of Venice to the small archipelago of Murano. The reasons invoked were the hazards that the furnaces used for glassblowing posed to all the wooden structures of Venice, which was also overpopulated at the time.

Until their secrets were stolen a couple centuries later, the Murano (Venetian) artisan glassmakers were the inventors and custodians of several glassmaking processes. Most importantly, the Murano glass artisans knew how to make mirrors, and they invented decorative processes involving the use of colored glass rods, such as filigrana (glass threaded with colored glass, where the color rods are stretched and fused) and millefiori (multicolored glass with “flower” designs where the color rods are cross-sectioned). Other glass processes originating in Murano included the invention of crystal (clear glass), lattimo (opaque “milk” glass), smalto (glass mosaic) and glass gemstones such as goldstone or aventurine (with a host of additional folkloric names such as monkstone, monk’s gold, stellaria and sangesetareh…)

Nowadays, the small archipelago of Murano (also called the Glass Island of Venice, even though Murano consists of 7 small islands connected by bridges) is still home to both artisan glassmakers and commercial production of glass. The oldest glassmaking company (and family), Barovier & Toso® founded in 1295, is still operating to date...with a website too! It is one of the five oldest companies in the world.

Considering that the Parte Venezia, decreed by the Republic of Venice as early as 1474, is believed to be the very first patent statute, the glassmakers of Venice (Murano) were probably among the first inventors to ever receive patent protection! In any event, the secrets of the Glassmakers’ Guilds were initially well guarded with 1295 legislation even preventing the artisans from traveling outside of the Republic of Venice, in exchange for various privileges granted to the nobility.

In a less radical mode, the 1474 Venetian patent statute required all inventors to file their inventions, and in exchange of this disclosure, granted them exclusive rights to use their inventions for a time-bound period of up to 10 years. Indeed, according to some researchers (e.g.; Feirreira Nascimiento, 2016), who have investigated early patents in Europe (France, England and Germany) and in the US, it even appears that the spirit of “recorded” innovation is strongly linked to the development of the glass industry.

Below, a copy of the 1474 Parte Venezia, containing, in a nutshell, the most essential tenets of the patenting system, as it exists to date. (A Cambridge University translation is hyperlinked in the Reference section).

File:Venetian Patent Statute 1474.png
-----
In regards the 2017 EPO Inventor Awards…my conjecture is that the 2017 trophy will be made of Murano glass. The European inventor trophy design is a “Sail” that is crafted each year from different local materials.  

Of course, I might be zapped… and completely wrong.

References
Barovier & Toso®
https://www.barovier.com/en/
Barovier & Toso® Museum
https://www.barovier.com/en/azienda/museo/
Feirreira Nascimiento, M. L.  (2016) The first patents and the rise of glass technology
Recent innovations in Chemical Engineering, 9, 1-11.
Rasmussen, S. C. (2008) Advances in 13th century glassmaking and their effect on chemical progress. Bull. Hist. Chem. 33(1), pp. 28-34.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

EPO award finalists (2) – Elmar Mock - Ultrasonic welding

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Do you wear a Swatch®–a hip Swiss watch with legendary mechanical craftsmanship priced for everyone?

If you do, then you are probably also wearing a very light weight watch with a plastic casing that was manufactured using ultrasonic welding, a process that consists in assembling thermo-weldable parts using a tool for applying high-frequency vibrations.

However, ultrasonic welding of the plastic Swatch® casing is also famous for another reason! Indeed, it was ultrasonic welding, together with integrated production of the Swatch® that reduced both the number of watch parts (from 91 to 51) and costs, without sacrificing the famous mechanical precision of Swiss time pieces. In turn, this new high quality “plastic” watch is purported to have actually rescued the Swiss mechanical watch industry in the 1980s from competing quartz movement timepieces, flooding the market from Asia. A period of time during which the market share of mechanical Swiss watches dropped from 50% to 15%! (Swatch – History)

The assembly and fitting of the watch crystal to the casing of the Swatch® is subjected to ultrasonic welding. This invention is recited in:
  • US4648722 (A) ― 1987-03-10 titled Plastic watch casing with plastic crystal and process for joining the crystal to the casing.
At the end of the day, however, the Swatch® and its ultrasonic welding process is one of many inventions competing at the EPO awards this year, since this invention falls in the life-time achievement category. Indeed it is the life-time achievements of the Swiss engineer Elmar Mock, co-founder of the Swatch® (in the 1980s), and subsequently, founder of the professional inventors company called Creaholic, that are being celebrated.
  
The life-time achievements of this Swiss engineer include 100s of patented inventions ranging from more diversified ultrasonic welding inventions, such as bone and joint ultrasonic welding in the medical sciences and ultrasonic welding of wood for carpentry applications, to water-saving hand washing stations, and food delivery systems for Nestlé, the Swiss multinational food company. The following are a few sample patents reciting these additional ground-breaking inventions:
  • EP2358311 (B1) titled Fusion device and tool set for fusing a human or animal joint
  • US2016317141 (A1) titled Method and device for fixating a suture anchor with a suture in hard tissue
  • WO2017015769 (A1) titled - Method for joining a device to an object with the aid of ultrasonic vibration energy and device and installation suitable for the method
  • EP2017221 (A1) titled Device for dispensing a liquid
  • EP1768925 (B1) titled System and device for preparing and delivering food products from a mixture made up of a food liquid and a diluent!
  • EP1954893 (B1) titled  Washing device 
Below, the EPO video spotlighting Elmar Mock's favorite inventions, and his tribe at Creaholic. 


References
Creaholic – Professional inventors
Swatch
Swatch  history