Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Oh, patents! Van Cleef & Arpels - More transformational jewelry

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Zip it open, and it's a necklace. Zip it closed, and it's a 

The Zip necklace is another famous and historical Van Cleef & Arpels transformational jewelry design. Contrary to the unique pieces of custom jewelry produced by Van Cleef & Arpels, the Zip necklace was produced in many different ornamental variations, for example as shown in the included video and image. 

Granted in 1939, the French patent FR838498, titled Fermeture rapide ornementée, disclosed the staggered and interlocking female and male parts of a zipper, an already well-known type of fastener.  The patent also disclosed a mobile slider that alternately brings the female and male parts together, or separates them. Finally, the patent included the envisionment of an indefinite number of ornamental designs, on each side of the zipper, partly as a way of concealing the metal tracks supporting the interlocking female and male parts. 

The embodiment of this invention resulted in a transformational piece of jewelry that was necklace when the zipper was open, and bracelet when the zipper was closed, with the upper part of the necklace unhinged and removed (as shown the video). 

patent figure drawing is included showing the staggered and interlocking male and female parts of the zipper. The image above shows one of the exquisite marketed embodiments of this invention.

The included video shows how the piece transforms, from necklace to bracelet.

Van Cleef & Arpels - The Zip Necklace

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Oh, patents! Van Cleef & Arpels transformational jewelry

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Van Cleef & Arpels have produced more than one piece of jewelry that is functionally fluid, morphing from bracelet to necklace, to brooch, to earrings and back again. However, the first transformational piece was patented in 1938. 

Titled Bijou à transformations multiples, the French patent FR884209 was granted on August 8, 1938, to the Van Cleef & Arpels Company.
FR884209 discloses a ribbon, consisting of a metal cable (1), and a clip (3) designed with several tracks (7) and pins (4) for the purposes of threading the cable, and restraining it at any given point.  The cable also has end means (5, 6) designed both ornamentally as a pendant, and technically for attaching extensions. Thus, the cable can slide through the clip, which opens and closes with a spring mechanism (2), enabling to adjust, and pin down, cable sizes to a bracelet (Fig. 5), a choker (Fig. 4), a long, medium, short, single or double stranded necklace. The clip was also designed so that the cable could loop back (Fig. 3) into the tracks for added flexibility of function. Finally, the clip was also envisioned so that it could be ornamentally designed as a brooch and/or earrings.  

This first Van Cleef and Arpels transformational piece of jewelry was marketed as the “passe-partout necklace". The 1938 marketed product displays an ornamental design of the clip in the shape of flowers, studded with precious stones.

Images showing various transformations of the historical “passe-partout” piece are included below. Figures 1 to 9 of the patent are also included to illustrate the clip design (Figs 7, 8 and 9), the tracks and restraining mechanism (Figs 1, 2 and 3), as well as some of the envisioned possibilities of wearing the piece (Figs 4, 5 and 6).

VanCleef & Arpels – Passe-Partout Necklace

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Terminology - WOTTIES 2017

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

After the Oxford Dictionaries selected Post-truth as 2016 WOTY (Word Of The Year), and the Collins Dictionary selected Brexit as 2016 WOTY, what are this year’s WOTTIES*?  What are the terms that have trended, made headlines, and become part of the vernacular, just in the past 12 months?

According to The Washington Post, has selected complicit as WOTY 2017. Complicit used as an adjective, and defined by as “Choosing to be involved in an illegal or questionable act, especially with others, having complicity”. The term complicit akin to “involved”, and perhaps most importantly when it is used in connection to the refusal to be complicit, as in the recent broken silence, exposing sexual harassment. Complicit was also immortalized in a short SNL (Saturday Night Live) commercial, as the name of a perfume, worn by Scarlett Johansson, playing First Daughter Ivanka.

The Collins Dictionary has selected Fake news as WOTY 2017, which will be included in the next edition of the dictionary, defined as:  “Noun: False, often sensational information, disseminated under the guise of news”. The Collins Dictionary shortlist of WOTTIES 2017 is also interesting.  Consider, for example, the terms:
  • Gender-fluid defined as "Adjective: Not identifying exclusively with one gender rather than another"
  • Gig economy defined as "Noun: An economy in which there are few permanent employees and most jobs are assigned to temporary or freelance workers”,  or 
  • Echo chamber, defined as “Noun: An environment, especially on a social media site, in which any statement of opinion is likely to be greeted with approval because it will only be read or heard by people who hold similar views.” 
The Oxford Dictionaries have yet to announce the term selected as WOTY 2017, and The American Dialect Society, after voting  they (3rd person singular pronoun) 2015 WOTY and dumspter fire 2016 WOTY, will announce their list of 2017 WOTTIES early Jan 2018.

Stay tuned!!
* WOTTIES = plural of the acronym WOTY (Word Of The Year), rhymes with "potties".

Herrmann, F. (Nov. 22, 2016) Terminology - ADS WOTY at Patents on the soles of your shoes (2016)
Herrmann, F. (Nov. 27, 2016) Terminology - OED WOTY at Patents on the soles of your shoes (2016) 
Herrmann, F. (Jan 15, 2017) Terminology - The ADS WOTY 2016  at Patents on the soles of your shoes (2017)
Oxford Dictionaries WOTY 2016
Stolworthy, J. (Nov. 3, 2016) Collins Dictionary's 10 words of the year, from 'Brexit' and 'snowflake generation' to 'JOMO', in The Independent.
Collins Dictionary 2017 WOTY
Collins WOTY 2017 shortlist WOTY 2017
Wang, A. (Nov. 27, 2017) Complicit is 2017 WOTY according to, in The Washington Post.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Oh, patents! Van Cleef & Arpels' Serti mystérieux

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

(Alfred) Van Cleef was to (Estelle) Arpels, what Romeo was to Juliet… (minus the dysfunctional families). Indeed, quite to the contrary, Estelle Arpels was the daughter of precious stone dealers, and Alfred Van Cleef was the son of  stonecutters. The product is a history of some of the most exquisite jewelry ever created, in a spirit that appears always keenly aware of the love that fueled the foundation of the company in 1906, and that continues to ignite all of its activity. Van Cleef & Arpels (originally Alfred Van Cleef and brother in-law Charles Arpels) remain a family jewelry business (including timepieces), albeit of global proportions.

The company quickly established itself as prestigious jewelers, creating award-winning jewelry and timepieces, at major universal craft fairs, in the early 20th century. For example, the Bracelet aux roses (Rose bracelet), won the Grand Prize at the 1925 Exposition Internationale des arts décoratifs et industriels (International Decorative and Industrial Art Fair); and pieces inspired by the Far East, such as the iconic Chapeau Chinois  (Chinese Hat) set, won prizes at the 1933 Exposition coloniale internationale (International Colonial Fair).

Famous people, such as the Duke and Duchess (Wallis Simpson) of Windsor  or Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, also commissioned Van Cleef & Arpels for jewelry, resulting in equally famous pieces, such as the sapphire Jarretière (garter) bracelet. Since then, the company’s most famous pieces have been retrospectively exhibited at major museums such as the Cooper-Hewitt National Museum of Design in NYC, in 2011; and France’s Musée des Arts Decoratifs, in 2012.  

Among the many hundreds of Van Cleef & Arpels (VCA) patents filed in France, in the US, and in international patent families, Le serti mystérieux (Mystery set) is perhaps one the most famous inventions. The French patent, FR764966, titled Dispositif pour monter les pierres précieuses (Device for mounting precious stones) and filed in 1933, disclosed a way of setting precious stones for jewelry, where the setting is completely concealed. The invention was intended to resolve the prior art of small claw paved settings for precious stones, which were not only visible on the surface of the stone, but which also required a lot of material on the back of the stone. Thus, in the prior art of stone settings, the back of the mounting also obscured the stones, making them less brilliant.

Particularly, the invention consists in the parallel notching of a stone, so that it can slide between the small tracks of a setting. In this new inventive way, the setting becomes invisible on the surface of the stone, and far less obstructive in the back of the piece too, allowing light to enter for more stone brilliance.

Figures 2, 4 and 5 of the patent are included to show the tracks of the setting (3, 4) from various perspectives, and the notching of the precious stones, enabling them to slide between the tracks.  A short Youtube video tutorial is also included to show the concealed setting of vintage Van Cleef & Arpels jewelry. 

Chapeau chinois (Chinese hat set)
Bracelet aux roses (Rose brecelet)
(Windsor) Bracelet jarretière (Garter bracelet)
Van Cleef & Arpels. L’Art de la Haute Joaillerie
Van Cleef & Arpels. L’Art de la Haute Joaillerie
Set in Style: Van Cleef & Arpels at Cooper-Hewitt Museum

Friday, December 1, 2017

World AIDS Day

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Today is World AIDS Day. 

For this year's celebration, the World Health Organization (WHO) chose the theme “Everybody counts”. The United Nations chose the theme “My health, my right”, highlighting the need for universal health coverage for people living with HIV.

The latest WHO statistics indicate the 20.9 million people living with HIV are now receiving ART (antiretroviral therapy), and that 7 out 10 pregnant women are receiving ART to prevent mother to child transmission of HIV. According to Dr. Hirnschall (2017), Director for HIV and Hepatitis at WHO, HIV-related deaths have almost halved since 2005. 

Still, a synopsis of the latest United Nations statistics on AIDS indicates that: 
  • 19.5 million people were accessing antiretroviral therapy in 2016.
  • 36.7 million [30.8 million–42.9 million] people globally were living with HIV in 2016.
  • 1.8 million [1.6 million–2.1 million] people became newly infected with HIV in 2016.
  • 1 million [830 000–1.2 million] people died from AIDS-related illnesses in 2016.
  • 76.1 million [65.2 million–88.0 million] people have become infected with HIV since the start of the epidemic.
  • 35.0 million [28.9 million–41.5 million] people have died from AIDS-related illnesses since the start of the epidemic.
  • In 2016, there were 36.7 million [30.8 million–42.9 million] people living with HIV.

UNAIDS – Latest fact sheet
UNAIDS – Fact sheet with regional breakdown
WHO - World AIDS day
UN – World AIDS Day
Hirnschall, G. Dr. (2017) AIDS-related deaths have almost halved since 2005

Monday, November 27, 2017

Oh, patents! Pepper

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Before concluding this chapter on the French Softbank Robotics humanoid robots with their many patented inventions for breakthrough body parts, expressive body language, and impressive skills at relating, here is Pepper's US Design patent. Pepper is one of the three humanoids embodying the Softbank Robotics patented inventions, previously presented.

Pepper's US design patent USD719620, titled Robot, was filed by Aldebaran Robotics (the former Softbank Robotics company) on Oct. 18, 2013, and awarded on Dec.16, 2014, to Vincent Clerc.

As a reminder a US design patent is different from a US utility patent in that:

“a “utility patent” protects the way an article is used and works (35 U.S.C. 101), while a "design patent" protects the way an article looks (35 U.S.C. 171)". (USPTO)
The USD719620 patent figure drawing No. 1 is included above, and the video below, posted on YouTube by Softbank Robotics Europe on June 10, 2014, shows Pepper awaking

Softbank Robotics
Softbank Robotics - Pepper

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Oh, patents! Humanoid voices (2)

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Lots more patented inventions for humanoids in the quest to emulate participation in human conversations! 

The Softbank Robotics family of robots are all connected robots. This makes them all technically unfinished products, considering that their functionalities might be indefinitely expanded, customized and modified with downloadable apps and extensions, designed by a community of third-party developers.   

Access to the world wide web, and to a remote database of information, greatly improves the humanoid’s capacity to parse and respond to human input in a dialogue, as it provides a way of personalizing interactions and breaking out of canned and repetitive modes of response. Indeed, even when the prior art of humanoid output is programmed to prevent repetitions, locally stored responses (even shuffled) are substantially the same for all human interlocutors. For an extreme example of stereotypical interaction, everyone has experienced interactive computer voice response (IVR) systems on the telephone, designed to lead human callers indiscriminately through a script and its options. For a humanoid robot seeking to function as a companion, this sort of indiscriminate, pre-recorded and stereotypical routine is unacceptable. The companion robot requires a bit more conversational capacity, if it is to eventually function as an assistant to daily living, and especially if it is to create engaging communication, or any kind of bond, albeit an inevitably deceptive one.

The invention recited in  US2016283465, titled Method for dialogue between a machine, such as a humanoid robot, and a human interlocutor; computer program product; and humanoid robot for implementing such a method, precisely addresses the issue of conversation ability, and in particular two aspects, termed: personalization, and progression, both within and across sessions of communication. 

The patent discloses that the humanoid robot has access to a remote database containing user profiles which may be extracted and updated with new information provided in the dialogue with a human interlocutor. Similarly, the humanoid robot is programmed to use profile information in the responses it generates, or to solicit more information to fill-in missing profile information. So, for example, the humanoid may identify an interlocutor by name, based on input data from camera sensors (not only verbal input), and then recall the previous conversation, based on stored history information in the profile, to generate a more personalized response, as in the following sequence, cited in the patent: 
[0062] Robot: Hello Jean! Thanks for coming back to see me. That makes me happy! 
[0063] How have you been since yesterday?
The profile might also be linked to additional contextual information that the humanoid can use in response to human input. The example cited in the patent concerns Europe Day, celebrated on  May 9, and both the user profile information concerning "Mother tongue"  and the missing information in the profile on "Other languages spoken". The cited dialogue prompt, generated by the robot to feed the conversation, and its human response, run as follows:
[0069] Robot: Tell me, do you know that today is Europe day? I think it's great, these countries uniting, with all the different languages and cultures. Also, I speak a number of European languages! And you, Jean, do you speak any languages other than French? [...]
[0072] Human: Yes, I speak English fluently.
The abstract for US2016283465 is included below. The patent figure drawing No. 1 is also included. The drawing shows a human interlocutor, and a humanoid robot with access, via a communication network, to a remote server containing user profiles, for use (extraction and update) in dialogue with humans.  

A method for performing a dialog between a machine, preferably a humanoid robot, and at least one human speaker, comprises the following steps, implemented by a computer: a) identifying the human speaker; b) extracting from a database a speaker profile comprising a plurality of dialog variables, at least one value being assigned to at least one of the dialog variables; c) receiving and analyzing at least one sentence originating from the speaker; and d) formulating and emitting at least one response sentence as a function at least of the sentence received and interpreted in step c) and of one dialog variable of the speaker profile. [Abstract 

This patent is part of a family, the list of which is appended below. 
  • US2016283465 (A1) ― 2016-09-29 - Method for dialogue between a machine, such as a humanoid robot, and a human interlocutor; computer program product; and humanoid robot for implementing such a method
  • AU2014331209 (A1) ― 2016-05-19 - Method for dialogue between a machine, such as a humanoid robot, and a human interlocutor; computer program product; and humanoid robot for implementing such a method 
  • CA2925930 (A1) ― 2015-04-09 - Method for dialogue between a machine, such as a humanoid robot, and a human interlocutor; computer program product; and humanoid robot for implementing such a method  
  • EP3053162 (A1) ― 2016-08-10 - Method for dialogue between a machine, such as a humanoid robot, and a human interlocutor; computer program product; and humanoid robot for implementing such a method
  • FR3011375 (A1) ― 2015-04-03 - Procédé de dialogue entre une machine, telle qu'un robot humanoïde, et un interlocuteur humain, produit programme d'ordinateur et robot humanoïde pour la mise en œuvre d'un tel procédé 
  • JP2016536630 (A) ― 2016-11-24 - 人型ロボット等の機械と人間話者との間の対話方法、コンピュータプログラム製品、および同方法を実行する人型ロボット
  • MX2016004208 (A) ― 2017-08-16 - Method for dialogue between a machine, such as a humanoid robot, and a human interlocutor; computer program product; and humanoid robot for implementing such a method. 
  • WO2015049198 (A1) ― 2015-04-09 - Method for dialogue between a machine, such as a humanoid robot, and a human interlocutor; computer program product; and humanoid robot for implementing such a method
So, does it all work? Can Softbank Robotics humanoids hold up their end of the conversation? Are Softbank Robotics humanoids likable? Lovable? Engaging? Can these humanoids be potential companions? The following video shows what happened with Nao, at three schools in the UK.

Softbank Robotics
Softbank Robotics - Nao