Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Oh, patents! Willow™ wearable breast pump! (2)

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

The Willow™ wea
rable breast pump’s many smart and mechanical features are also patented. Below, a list of the Willow™ pump patents:

  • AU2015292839 (A1) ― 2017-02-16 - Breast pump system and methods
  • AU2015292864 (A1) ― 2017-02-02 - Breast pump system and methods
  • CA2955605 (A1) ― 2016-01-28 - Breast pump system and methods
  • CA2955939 (A1) ― 2016-01-28 - Breast pump system and methods
  • SG11201700370Y (A) ― 2017-02-27 - Breast pump system and methods 
  • SG11201700489W (A) ― 2017-02-27 - Breast pump system and methods 
  • US2016287769 (A1) ― 2016-10-06 - Breast pump system and methods
  • US2016303298 (A1) ― 2016-10-20 - Breast pump container assemblies
  • US2016206794 (A1) ― 2016-07-21 - Breast pump system and methods 
  • US2016310649 (A1) ― 2016-10-27 - Breast pump container assemblies
  • US2016310650 (A1) ― 2016-10-27 - Breast pump system and methods
  • US9539376 (B2) ― 2017-01-10 - Breast pump system and methods
  • US9539377 (B2) ― 2017-01-10 - Breast pump system and methods
  • WO2016014469 (A1) ― 2016-01-28 - Breast pump system and methods
  • WO2016014483 (A1) ― 2016-01-28 - Breast pump system and methods   
  • WO2016014488 (A1) ― 2016-01-28 - Breast pump system and methods
  • WO2016014494 (A1) ― 2016-01-28 - Breast pump system and methods 

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Oh, patents! Willow™ wearable breast pump! (1)

Copyright  © Françoise Herrmann

Presented at CES 2017, the Willow™ breast pump has the very desirable advantage of being “wearable” and consequently “hands-free”. The devices (one for each breast) just slip into a bra, so that nursing mothers can use them at any time during the day. Indeed, this wearable device appears as a far better option for nursing mothers than being tethered to an outlet a bit like a rechargeable appliance. And certainly, the Willow™ breast pump has come a long way since US11135, an 1854 patented breast-pump actuated with a bellow pump!

Indeed, perhaps that this is in fact the long-awaited product that nursing mothers, lactation consultants, midwives, public health researchers, designers and engineers have collectively envisioned, and facilitated, via their participation in the “Make the breast pump not suck hackathon”, organized at the MIT Media Lab in 2014, within the context of research carried out on post-partum technologies (D’Ignazio, 2014).

Considering an article published by D’Ignazio, et al. (2016), reporting on 1136 mother-submitted ideas for improving breast pumps, crowdsourced in a participatory, human-centered and feminist Human Computer Interaction (HCI) approach to design, it certainly looks as though many of the design features incorporated into the Willow™ pump, fit the bill of the “breast pump that doesn’t suck”!

Take mobility, for example. According to D’Ignazio et. al (2016), the issue of mobility is high on the list of Mothers’ wishes, not only for the obvious reported reasons of being able to multitask (e.g.; to get up and get a glass of water when pumping, or to mind multiple children while still being able to collect milk), or even to go back to work without being plugged in a bathroom or a car outlet, but also for less obvious reasons. Less obvious reasons such as mothers being able to bypass the stress of being tethered and the associated feelings of humiliation, the belittling perception of sharing a milking experience with other non-human mammals, or of being isolated because of the social stigma associated with pumping milk in public. D’Ignazio et. al. (2016) also report on mothers’ stories about having to dodge colleagues and co-workers to prevent them from feeling embarrassed, not only with pumping, but with just the sight of the pumping apparatus and the bottles or bags of extracted milk.

So, indeed, a wearable breast pump, capable of restoring the freedom and taken for granted gifts of mobility are the winning features of this invention.

Mobility, however, is not the only desirable feature of a breast pump according to the Feminist HCI study. And the Willow™ breast pump seems to incorporate quite a few more of the nursing mothers’ wishes. 

The Willow™ breast pump further includes a quiet mode of operation enabling nursing mothers to engage in conversations while pumping, or to talk on the phone. The Willow™ pump includes a Bluetooth™ connection to a phone app enabling mothers to monitor the amount of milk collected in real-time, and to track previous pumping sessions. The milk is also collected directly in an internal bag which dispenses with the use of bottles, and all that might be perceived as “unsightly”. 

The Willow™ wearable breast pumps also insert into the mother’s own bra which prevents, according to the studied reports, the sizeable extra costs of a bra accessory that can convert a non-wearable breast pump into a wearable one.  Best of all perhaps, beyond mobility, is the fact that the Willow™ pump is machine washable, which guarantees that the pump will be sanitized clean, saves time, and ditches all the feelings of discomfort associated with having to wash a breast pump in a bathroom at work, instead of the kitchen – even when a kitchen is available. 

Thus, the Willow™ wearable breast pump perhaps finally appears as the quintessential “breast pump that doesn’t suck”! 

Only now, it has to start shipping!

US11135 – Breast-pump – Granted to Orwell Needham, 1854
CES 2017
D’Ignazio, C. (2014) MIT Media Lab – The make the breast pump not suck hackathon, May 29, 2014.
D’Ignazio, C. (2015) Does the breast pump still suck? Eight awesome outcomes of the MIT Media Lab Hackathon, February 19, 2015.
D’Ignazio, C. et. al. (2016) A feminist HCI approach to designing postpartum technologies: “When I first saw a breast pump I was wondering if it was a joke”. Proceedings CHI 2016, May 7-12, 2016, San Jose, CA.
Nijhuis, M. (2014) Hacking the breast pump. The New Yorker

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

International Women's Day!

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Today is International Women's Day! The first International Women's Day was celebrated on Feb. 28, 1909, upon invitation fo the American Socialist Party, within the context of the women's suffrage movement. 

During the International Year of Women, in 1975, the UN voted March 8 International Women's Day.

In July 2010, the UN National Assembly voted for the creation of UN Women, The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women. 

IWD - International Women's Day
IWD - International Women's Day Events
UN Women - Media advisory - Internaitonal Women's Day
UN Women - Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030 - Message by UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka on International Women's Day, 8 March 2017
UN Women - International Women''s Day
About UN Women

Sunday, February 26, 2017

USPTO – Patents for humanity 2016!

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

What’s more than a patent? A patent for humanity!

The USPTO Patents for Humanity program confers awards since 2013, when the program was launched. The winners obtain acceleration certificates for certain USPTO proceedings, and public recognition of their work. The winners are selected for the invention of “game-changing technology to meet humanitarian challenges” and for their vision in “pioneering innovative ways to provide affordable, scalable, and sustainable solutions for the less fortunate”.

In 2016, four awards and two honorable mentions were granted. The following is an extracted and further hyperlinked list of the recipients.

2016 awards winners
  • U.S. Food & Drug Administration - for developing an improved meningitis vaccine production process that’s been used to immunize 235 million people in high-risk Africa countries
  • Case Western Reserve University - for creating a low-cost, accurate malaria detection device using magnets and lasers that allows better diagnosis and treatments
  • GestVision, Inc - for developing a quick, simple diagnostic test for preeclampsia, a potentially life-threatening pregnancy complication, for use in developing regions.
  • Global Good Fund at Intellectual Ventures - for creating a passive cooler that can keep vaccines cold over 30 days and donating dozens of units to the fight against Ebola and other relief efforts.
Honorable Mentions
  • Alere Inc – for developing diagnostic assays for rapid and early HIV diagnosis at the point of care in low-resource settings
  • Sanofi – for researching new malaria drug candidates with shorter, simpler treatment regimens that can potentially counter the growing trend of drug resistance.

About the USPTO Patents for humanity Program

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Oh, patents! Fastskin swimsuits (2)

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

The amazing Speedo® tech swimsuits are not without a bit of controversy!

The Speedo® fastskin swimsuits were first used at the Summer 200O Olympics, in Sidney Australia, where the Australian swimming team wearing the suits won 8 gold medals!  The Speedo® tech suits were then caught in a large sportswear controversy, culminating in 2010 with the FINA (Fédération International de Natation - International Swimming Federation) ban on the use of all non-textile, buoyant polyurethane swimming suits, in all competitions, and in 2015, with a ban on the use of suits covering the whole body (for men covering the torso, and for women covering below the knees). The grounds on which FINA upheld that it is “the athlete’s performance that counts in swimming” are perhaps more contested than those of the high costs of engineered suits, manufactured by large sports companies, which create an uneven playing field (Barrow, 2012; Scientific American; Steinbach, 2005).

The Speedo® Fastskin swimsuits are however approved and used for competitive swimming, while the pressure mounts from large sportswear companies for less stringent rules on the use tech fabrics for swimming. 

In Fiona Fairhurst’s own terms, shark skin was her inspiration! No wonder, since sharks can torpedo swim for food at 60 MPH! However, against all possible intuitions about the correlations between the texture of skin and speed, it turns out that rough skin rather than smooth skin, promotes speed, just like shark’s skin which is very rough!  

Fastskin swimsuits help competitive swimmers by reducing drag (i.e.; the resistance to a fluid or fluid friction) against the water, and the amount of water entry between a suit and the body, which also causes increased drag.  Thus, the suits are made of a knitted elasticated fabric that is less water absorbent.  More importantly, the panels of fabric and the position of the seams are researched according to muscle anatomy and activity, both to create compression and to also prevent water entry by making the fabric even more high-tension fitting on the body. Seams are thus used to both reduce the stretchability of the fabric, and to increase tensioned fit in specific areas, such as the lower back and abdominal areas. The tighter tensioned fit of the fabric, resulting in muscle compression, also causes less muscle vibration, which otherwise uses more oxygen, causing more fatigue and drag. 

In addition to the researched position of seams and paneling of the fabric, Fastskin suits include ridges in the fabric called “surface flow modifiers”. These structures, placed longitudinally to the body, on the surface of the suit, are designed to create turbulence which reduces the overall amount of drag.   

For the many aspects of the Fastskin swimsuit invention, Fiona Fairhurst and her colleagues are the recipients of at least 26 US, Australian, German, British and Austrian patents listed below:

AU20017234000 (A) ― 2001-06-21 - Articles of clothing
AU2002100223 (A4) ― 2002-05-02 - Articles of clothing
AU2005248944 (A1) ― 2006-02-02 - Articles of clothing 
AU2009200188 (A1) ― 2009-02-12 - Articles of clothing 
DE60007002 (T2) ― 2004-06-03 - Swimsuit 
EP1110464 (A3) ― 2001-08-16 - Articles of clothing
EP1250858 (A1) ― 2002-10-23 - Close fitting article of clothing with highly tensioned fit
EP1110464 (B1) ― 2008-07-16 – Swimsuit 
ES2207626 (T3) ― 2004-06-01 – Swimsuit
ES2310510 (T3) ― 2009-01-16 -Swimsuit 
GB2361409 (A) ― 2001-10-24 - Close-fitting garment - e.g. swimsuit - consisting of panels of fabric joined by flat seams
GB2361409 (B) ― 2003-11-26 – Swimsuits
GB2411816 (A) ― 2005-09-14 - Surface flow modifiers and swimsuits 
US2001014981 (A1) ― 2001-08-23 - Articles of clothing  
US6446264 (B2) ― 2002-09-10 - Articles of clothing
USD456111 (S) ― 2002-04-30 - Garment 
USD456110 (S) ― 2002-04-30 - Garment  
USD456109 (S) ― 2002-04-30 – Garment
USD456588 (S) ― 2002-05-07 – Garment
USD460242 (S) ― 2002-07-16 – Garment
USD461034 (S) ― 2002-08-06 – Garment
USD462154 (S) ― 2002-09-03 - Garment 
USD461033 (S) ― 2002-08-06 – Garment
USD541008 (S) ― 2007-04-24 - Swimming costume
AT255338 (T) ― 2003-12-15 - Swimsuit 
AT401012 (T) ― 2008-08-15 - Swimsuit 

Speedo USA
Scientific American – Swimsuit controversy… again!
Steinbach, P. (2005)
Barrow, J. (7-25- 2012) Why ban full-body Olympic swimsuits: A scientist explains polyurethane – The Daily Beast
FINA-approved swimwear

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Oh, patents! Speedo® Fastskin swinsuit (1)

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Fiona Fairhurst is the inventor of the Speedo® Fastskin swimsuits.
The abridged story of this invention is told in her own words in the short video below.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

One Billion Rising!

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

During the month of February and especially, today on V- day, since 2013, Women RISE, DANCE, DISRUPT and CONNECT in a fierce movement against the sexual and physical violence directed at women and girls. The movement is called One Billion Rising! because of the shocking statistic of 1 in 3 women worldwide who will be raped or the victim of violence in her lifetime.
  • In 2013 One Billion Rising! danced to show their outrage.
  • In 2014 One Billion Rising! danced for justice.
  • In 2015 and 2016 One Billion Rising! danced for revolution, in more than 200 countries, with millions of women and girls participating.
  • In 2017 One Billion Rising! is dancing against exploitation and in solidarity.  
The movement grew out of Eve Ensler’s famous play, The Vagina Monologues, performed everywhere on Feb. 14th. The almost as famous theme song of the One Billion Rising! movement, “Break the chain”, was written and produced by Tena Clark, with music by Tena Clark and Tim Heintz. The original choreography of the piece was created by Debbie Allen.

Below a video of the original song and the choreographed dances, that Disrupt! Connect! and Occupy! bringing women together, joyfully and globally, in their struggle to end violence.

One Billion Rising!
Ensler, E. (2001) The Vagina Monologues. New York, NY: Random House Publishing house.
Eve Ensler (website) 
Eve Ensler interviewé par Le Monde
Tena Clark (website)
Tim Heintz (website)
Debbie Allen Dance Company