Sunday, June 17, 2018

Oh, patents! Blended reality mirror

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Mirror, mirror on the wall, what shall I wear today?
Now, everyone will be able to seek counsel from a blended reality mirror!

What is blended reality? In this scenario, blended reality combines the images reflected by the mirror with images transmitted through the mirror, functioning as a display. Thus, users might see themselves in a setting  (e.g.; at the beach or in a restaurant) other than their current location. Alternatively, users might see themselves wearing clothes other than the ones actually worn.

The challenge of combining both reflected and transmitted images, so that users can view them in a blended reality experience, is the problematic situation addressed in the patent US9858719, titled Blended reality systems and methods, assigned to Amazon Technologies Inc. In particular, this invention seeks to resolve such issues as the superimposition of reflected images on a transmitting display, which often results in what is termed “ghosting”. Conversely, the invention also resolves the impossibility of reflecting transmitted images.  Thus, the patent recites the systems and methods designed to blend both reflected and transmitted realities, so that both are accessible to users in an augmented reality (AR) experience.

Succinctly, the mirror/display device controls all the undesirable effects of superpositioned images, by controlling the amount of light transmitted and reflected, according to proprietary algorithms, that include the recognition and extraction of scanned (camera) data. For example,  the mirror/display device can selectively: darken the image of the room (preventing reflection), illuminate the user (to promote reflection), and/or project images onto the darkened areas where the user would have seen a reflection of the room and its objects.

The abstract of this invention is included below, together with a blended reality illustration, extracted from the patent. The illustration shows how the reflection of the room has been obliterated to allow for the display of a beach scene, and conversely how the user has been identified in the flow of scanned images (as an outline in the darkened room captured data) which is then illuminated so that  it can be reflected in the transmitted scene, as the user.

Systems and methods are provided for generating a blended reality view to a user, the blended reality view combining images reflected by a mirror with images transmitted from a screen behind the mirror. Systems for generating blended reality views can include a display device with a screen positioned behind a mirror. The display device can generate a pattern of illumination and non-illumination on the screen so that the illuminated portions of the screen substantially transmitted through the mirror. Projectors can be used to illuminate objects in front of the mirror so that the illuminated objects are reflected by the mirror. In combination, the portions of the screen transmitted through the mirror and the illuminated objects reflected by the mirror can provide a blended reality 
view to a user viewing the mirror.

The bottom line is that when you stand in front of a blended reality mirror, you will no longer see a mirror image! The youtube video included below provides a glimpse of the blended mirror reality in the dressing room. 

Happy Father’s day to everyone! 

CNN - Amazon smart mirror patent

Thursday, June 14, 2018

European Inventor Awards - The 2018 Jury

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Composed of leading scientists, science and technology professionals, industrialists, inventors,  and former EPO Award winners, the 2018 European Inventor Awards Jury --for the first time in 12 years, since the inception of the program in 2006-- awarded more trophies to women scientists.

Among approximately 500 proposals, reduced by EPO experts to a pre-selection of 40, the Jury selects three finalists in each of the five European Inventor Award categories: Research, Industry, Small and Medium Enterprises, Non-EPO Member Country, and Lifetime Achievement. A single winning inventor, or team of inventors, is then selected in each of the five categories. The public votes for the winning inventor, or team of inventors in the sixth Popular Award category, among the 15 finalists.  

The members of the Jury look for inventions that are both breakthrough and with a significant social and economic impact. 

The following short Youtube video shows the 2018 members of the European Inventor Awards Jury, in-action.  A hyperlinked list of the members of the 2018 Jury is also appended. 

Members of the 2018 European Inventor Awards Jury

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

European Inventor Awards - The 2018 Trophy

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Each year, the EPO award winners receive a Miriam Irle-designed trophy, in the shape of a sail (with no English pun intended). 5000 years ago the power of the wind was harnassed in sailboats to promote trade and exploration. Thus, the trophy’s sail shape represents the spirit of innovation, each year celebrated anew at the EPO awards ceremony.

2018 trophy
The European Inventors’ Award trophy is not only symbolically loaded because of its shape, it is also, each year, manufactured locally in the country hosting the awards ceremony, using materials or a manufacturing process that is locally significant.  For example, when the awards ceremony took place in Venice, Italy, the 2017 trophy was manufactured using Murano glass. When the awards ceremony took place in Lisbon, Portugal, the 2016 trophy was manufactured using azulejo ceramic tile. This year is no exception, in Saint Germain-en Laye, France. Indeed, the selected manufacturing process, using computer-aided parametric design with 3D stereolithographic printing, is even re-emphasized, as it was previously selected in 2015, when the awards ceremony took place in Paris, France.   

The 2018 European Inventors’ Award displays an intricate double layer latticework, which can only be computer-generated using computer-assisted parametric design, molded and produced with 3D stereolithographic processes. Whether the intricate latticework selected is reminiscent of Gustave Eiffel’s famous tower (as it was for the 2015 trophy), or inspired by the fractal wonders of nature (as it is in 2018), the sail trophy is also awarded each year, as a work of art. In 2018 specifically, the trophy was awarded as a work of art celebrating the computer, and especially computer-generated art, including the computer-driven 3D stereolithographic printing process.

The YouTube video included below shows some of the manufacturing process invoked in the production of the 2018 trophies.

Incidentally, the 3D-stereolithographic printing process, used to manufacture the trophies, was invented by Charles W. Hull, who was the recipient of a European Inventor’s Award in the non-EPO country category, in 2014, in Berlin, Germany.

European Inventors’Award – The 2017 Trophy
European Inventors’Award – The 2016 Trophy
Charles W. Hull - 3D Systems – Our Story
Miram Irle

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Oh, patents! Bombshell:The Hedy Lamarr Story

Much has been written about Hedy Lamarr, the glamorous Holywood star, and brilliant (patented) scientist. The most recent tribute has been put together by Alexandra Dean, in the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival award-winning documentary, titled Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story. 

Bombshell is based on four unreleased telephone interview audio-tapes of the famous actress and scientist, where she talks with Forbes journalist Fleming Meeks, about her unbelievable life. Thus, in many ways, Bombshell, is a documentary presenting:  “Hedy Lamarr in her own words” which are heard throughout the 1.5-hour documentary.

Who was Hedy Lamarr? Hedwig Eva Maria Keisler was born on Nov. 9, 1914, and died on Jan. 19, 2000. She was an Austrian Jewish immigrant, a "tyrolean beauty" by her own admission, with a dual career as Hollywood actress, and scientist-inventor.  

Bombshell has the great merit of making sense of the duality of her story, suggesting that her career as a Holywood beauty icon was incompatible with her brilliance as a scientist. A dissonance that, in turn, completely obscured the scope, and importance, of her invention, until the very end of her life. As one of the documentary voiceovers states: “You don’t get to be both Hedy Lamarr and smart”. 

Indeed, Hedy Lamarr’s face was selected as the model for the Disney character “Snow White” –as well as for Cat Woman. But it was only with the advent of WiFi, Bluetooth® and GPS technologies that she was credited for the brilliance of her contribution to secure radio communication signals, with a frequency hopping invention during, World War II. As the graphics animator, Jennifer Hom, who Google Doodled Hedy Lamarr, states in Bombshell, Hedy was also “the perfect underdog, a crime-fighter by night” whose accomplishments were unknown.

What did Hedy Lamarr invent? Hedy Lamarr invented radio frequency hopping to prevent the Axis forces during WWII from jamming the Allied British and American radio communications, particularly between ships and torpedos, though unlimited to horizontal communication. In other words, she invented a system for securing radio communication signals, using up to 88 different frequencies. Unless the enemy knew the hopping sequence, which changed, communication could no longer be jammed. 

To bring her invention to life, Hedy Lamarr collaborated with a well-known music composer called George Antheil, an expert in player piano synchronization (i.e.; using piano rolls to activate keys). The invention was recognized by the National Inventor’s Council in 1941.  Lamarr and Antheil then collaborated with an expert physicist, Pr. Sam Mackeown, at Cal Tech for the electronic implementation of the invention.  

The frequency hopping invention was thus patented and awarded to Hedy Keisler Markey and George Antheil. It is recited in the US patent, US2292387, titled Secret Communication System. Once awarded, the patent was donated to the US Navy, who rejected it, sending the glamorous and famous Hedy Lamarr, instead, to entertain the troops, and raise money, selling 25 million dollars worth of war bonds for the war effort. The patent was also subsequently seized, in 1942, by the US Government as enemy alien property. Hedy Lamarr was not yet an American citizen.

After the war, and her fundraising activity on behalf of the US Armed Forces, Lamarr went back to a successful acting career, also producing her own motion pictures and raising a family. She had been married a few times, including a first marriage to an Austrian arms manufacturing tycoon, which probably explains her interest in WWII weaponry.

By the 1960s, the frequency hopping communications invention was in use on all US Navy ships, in particular during the Cuban Missile Crisis, in 1962. But, none of the proceeds of the invention were ever distributed to Lamarr and Antheil, on the grounds that the patent had expired.  A fact that Lamarr and her biographers disputed,  using written evidence from an Army-commissioned contractor, who was given her patent to use as a blueprint in 1955, and who acknowledged her invention.

It was only in 1990, in an article titled Hedy Lamarr was also a brilliant inventorwritten by Fleming Meeks (the Forbes journalist who supplied the four interview tapes for Bombshell ), that Hedy Lamarr, at age 76, received the first recognition for her work as an inventor, and her aspirations to change the course of World War II.

Hedy Lamarr then received accolades from the communications industry that recognized the use of frequency hopping in WiFi, Bluetooth® and GPS technologies, as well as from the military for use in satellite communications. The overdue accolades culminated in an award granted by Lockheed Martin, Milstar satellites and the US Navy, which was accepted by her son. However, the glamorous tide had turned for Lamarr, who was now living a very private and finally fully reconciled life.

Included below, the first sheet of drawings extracted from the Lamarr/Antheil patent, showing Figures 1-3. Figure I schematically illustrates the transmitting apparatus. Figure 2 schematically illustrates the receiving apparatus. Figure 3 schematically illustrates a starting circuit for simultaneously starting the transmitting and receiving motors.

Alexandra Dean on Hedy Lamarr (Interview)
Google Doodle  (Nov. 9,2015)  Hedy Lamarr’s 101sr birthday 
Meeks, F. (May 1990) Hedy Lamarr was also a brilliant inventor. Forbes Magazine
Shmavonian, K.  (Aug. 14, 2013) Thoughts On Innovation And Hedy Lamarr. Forbes Magazine

Friday, June 8, 2018

Oh, patents! Benoît Systèmes Kitcool (2)

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

The Benoît Systèmes Kitcool was designed as a wheelchair accessory for the purposes of providing a stable reclined wheelchair position, conducive to relaxation for the wheelchair-enabled. For this purpose, the Kitcool was also specifically designed with the following specifications:
  • installation  on any wheelchair
  • swift, user-operated, mounting and unmounting of the accessory (otherwise, no  attendant technical skills required)
  • absolute security of the tilting mechanism
  • foldable for easy transportation or storage, in compliance with wheelchair manufacturer guidelines
  • adjustable according to body types and relaxation positions
  • usable on any type of ground surface
  • normal and usual wheelchair function when not reclined
  • easy toggle between reclined and upright positions

The Kitcool invention is recited in a family of patents:  FR2739019
WO/1997/010791,  AU7133996AUS6099021A and EP0959860A1, titled (in English) Accessory for supporting a wheelchair in a stable reclined position. 

The set of 8 patent figure drawings is included below.

Figures 1 to 6 (left) show the various positions of the wheelchair, from upright to reclining, and back to upright.

Figure 7 (right) shows the adjustable backrest and supporting pole, attached to the wheelchair handles, and to be connected to the inverted stabilizing “T” bar.

Figure 8 (right) shows a detail view of the mounting assembly, designed to attach the Kitcool to the wheelchair handles.

Benoit Systèmes (website)
Benoît Systèmes - Kitcool

Thursday, June 7, 2018

European Patent Awards – The 2018 winners!

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

The European Organization 2018 Award winners were announced on the occasion of the 2018 EPO Awards ceremony, held this day, in Saint Germain-en-Laye, France.

In the Industry category:  Agnès Poulbot and Jacques Barraud [FR], inventors of the self-regenerating tire tread.

In the Research category:  Jens Frahm {DE], inventor of real-time MRI
  • EP0191431 (A2) ― 1986-08-20 - Method and device for rapid acquisition of spin resonance data for a space-resolved examination of an object.  
  • EP0184840 (A1) ― 1986-06-18 - Arrangement for the spatially resolved inspection of a sample by means of magnetic resonance of spin moments.
  • EP2699926 (A1) ― 2014-02-26 - Spatially encoded phase-contrast MRI

In the Small & Medium Business Enterprise category: Jane ní Dhulchaointigh [IE], inventor of the Sugru multi-purpose moldable glue
  • EP2089465 (A1) ― 2009-08-19 - Room temperature curable silicone elastomer composition 

In the non-European Patent Organization country category: Esther Sans Takeuch [US], inventor of batteries to resent the heart
  • EP1215175 (A1) ― 2002-06-19 - Preparation of epsilon-phase silver vanadium oxide (SVO) from gamma-phase SVO starting material  
  • EP1816692 (A1) ― 2007-08-08 - Lithium/fluorinated carbon cell for high-rate pulsatile applications

In the Life-time achievement categoryUrsula Keller [CH], inventor of ultra-fast pulsed lasers
  • EP2089465 (A1) ― 2009-08-19 - Room temperature curable silicone elastomer composition 

The popular vote:  Erik Loopstra [Netherlands] and Vadim Banine [RU[, inventors of Extreme Ultra Violet (EUV) lithography for smaller, more powerful microchips.
  • EP2465012 (A1) ― 2012-06-20 - Lithographic apparatus and method
  • EP2480936 (A1) ― 2012-08-01 -Source collector apparatus, lithographic apparatus and device manufacturing method  
  • EP2170021 (A2) ― 2010-03-31- Source module, radiation source and lithographic apparatus

Congratulations to everyone!

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Oh, patents! Benoît Systèmes

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

France's Concours Lépine Police Commissioner Prize was awarded to Benoît Systèmes for the MOBILITY Kit, a Power Pack that transforms any chair into a motorized indoor wheelchair. Regardless of whether the chair happens to be an antique Louis XVI “bergère” armchair or a modern Eames molded-plastic chair, the chair will fit securely on top of the MOBILITY kit power platform, allowing the user to drive around the house, using a joystick, comfortably seated on his or her favorite chair.

The MOBILITY Kit is the latest Power Pack addition to the Benoît Systèmes product line, where each product is expertly designed to further facilitate the mobility and comfort of adults and children, who are wheelchair-enabled. The Benoit Systèmes line of products includes:
The Light Drive Power Pack, and Mini Light Drive for children, transform any wheelchair into a motorized wheelchair. 
The Light Active Power Pack is designed as a motorized performance booster for wheelchairs, particularly for users with good upper body strength and capacity, who otherwise struggle to negotiate slopes and hills. The Active Power Pack is a wheelchair add-on that is easily installed and removed. 
The Light Assist  Power Pack installs in 20 seconds on almost any wheelchair as a pair of long motorized handles at the back of the wheelchair, facilitating the pushing and navigation tasks, performed by those who attend to adults or children, who are wheelchair-enabled.
The Kitcool is a cushion with an assembly that attaches to the back of any wheelchair with handles. The Kitcool assists with reclining the wheelchair, and is thus ergonomically designed to provide increased comfort to wheelchair-enabled adults.

The functionality and ergonomy of the Benoît Systèmes company products come as no surprise when you find out that the Founder, CEO and CTO of the company, and Inventor of the products, Robert Benoît, is an engineer who became paraplegic at the age of 21, following a car accident.

Benoit Systèmes products are partially subsidized by France’s national Social Security healthcare plans, and grants are widely available to refund the balance not covered by the State healthcare plans.

The Benoit Systèmes products are patented. The following is a list of some of these patents and patent families:
  • FR3050638 (A1) - 2017-11-03 - Tray table system for a wheelchair, and wheelchair equipped with such a system 
  • WO2017187094 (A1) - 2017-11-02 - Tray table system for a wheelchair, and wheelchair equipped with such a system  
  • FR2739019A1 - 1997-03-23Accessoire pour fauteuil roulant destiné à le maintenir en une position stable de relaxation 
  • WO9710791A1 - 1997-03-27 - Accessoire pour fauteuil roulant destiné à le maintenir en une position stable de relaxation 
  • AU7133996A ― 1997-04-09 - Accessory for supporting a wheelchair in a stable reclined position
  • US6099021A  - 2000-08-08 - Accessory for supporting a wheelchair in a stable reclined position 
  • EP0959860A1 - 1999-12-01 - Accessory for supporting a wheelchair in a stable reclined position 
  • FR2670381 (A1) - 1992-06-19 - Groupe propulseur d'assistance à l'avancement d'un fauteuil manuel pour handicapé
  • WO9210157A1 - 1992-06-25 - Groupe propulseur d'assistance à l'avancement d'un fauteuil manuel pour handicapé
  • EP0561986A1 - 1993-09-29 - Auxiliary drive unit for a manual wheelchair
  • AU9144891A - 1992-07-08 - Auxiliary drive unit for a manual wheelchair
  • DE69104064T2 - 1995-05-11 - Auxiliary drive unit for a manual wheelchair
  • ES2065164T3 - 1993-03-29 - Grupo propulsor de ayuda al avance de una silla de ruedas manual para minusvalidos
  • US5244222A - 1993-09-14 - Collapsible wheelchair 
  • EP0561774 - 1993-09-29 - Fauteuil roulant pliable
  • US3921744 (A) - 1975-11-25  - Wheelchair with detachable drive means
The YouTube video below shows the 20-second installation and removal of a Power Pack kit for the transformation of a manual wheelchair into a motorized wheelchair, and back again to the manual mode.

Benoit Systèmes (website)
Benoît Systèmes - Kitcool
Benoît Systèmes - Light Drive
Benoît Systèmes - Light Active
Benoît Systèmes - Light Assist 
Concours Lépine

*Access to still unstable and backlogged.  (06-04-2018)