Thursday, October 31, 2013

Oh, patents! 3D construction printing

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

 There is more to 3D printing than bio-printing your prion-free T-bone steak! In the future, houses will be printed too! The University of California Industrial Systems Engineering program, in collaboration with NASA, are designing new robotic construction systems to build dwellings using 3D printing processes called Contour Crafting (CC). []

Contour Crafting uses CAD/CAM (Computer-Aided Design/ Computer-Aided Manufacture) to streamline and automate the construction process. The automated dwelling programs are then produced using various types of scaled-up 3D printers. The giant (scaled-up) 3d printers, mounted on a robotic gantry, are designed to deliver concrete through a nozzle, layer by layer, to make the hollow (or ribbed) walls of the whole floor plan, complete with openings for windows, automated reinforcement, plumbing and electrical conduits, even automated tile work and ink-jet painting!. In a single run, it is estimated that it would take approximately 20 hours to extrude a 2500 sq. ft dwelling. Additionally, no single dwelling would have to be identical, nor would it have to be “box-shaped”, with 90-degree angles. The computer programs create the multiplicity of designs, and there are 3-D printers that can also handle curves!

Below is an animation of the Contour Crafting of a whole house.

This well patented technology, awarded to Dr. Behrokh Khoshnevis at USC, invokes multiple components and processes: Metering and plumbing devices [EP2623782]; Apparatus for automated construction comprising an extrusion nozzle and a robotic arm
[EP2610417]; Extrusion of cementatious material with different leveling characteristics [US2013059025]; Automated plumbing, wiring and reinforcement [US2012038074]; Dry material transport and extrusion [US2010136340], Robotic Gantry System [HK1136810]; Multi-chamber vibrating valve for cementitious material [US2010112119]; Technologies for sensing material flow rate in automated extrusion [WO2009070580]; Contour crafting extrusion nozzles [WO2009055580]; Extruded wall with rib-like interior [ZA200804559]; Material delivery system using decoupling accumulator [US2007148006]; Compliant, low profile, independently releasing, non-protruding and genderless docking system for robotic modules [US2007286674]; Deployable contour crafting [US2007181519]; Process of making a three-dimensional object [WO0138061]; Hand-heal electronic stereoscopic imaging system with improved three-dimensional imaging capabilities [US2003020807]

Advantageous applications are numerous. First, this technology is both energy and labor-efficient.  Construction of a typical single family home generates 5 to 7 tons of waste while contributing significantly to harmful emissions. Contour Crafting is zero-emission and zero-waste technology, due to high precision of the robotic extrusion process.  The 45- to 55% in reduced labor costs will raise controversy… But so did personal computers, when no one could have imagined the www, or the new economy that was subsumed, including thousands of new professions. And in support of labor efficiency, reduced danger and work-related hazards will surely tip the scales. There are 10,000 construction-related deaths yearly, and more than 400,000 construction-related injuries, yearly, in the US alone. 

Secondly, this is technology that could potentially resolve shelter crises in impoverished areas and urbanized centers, where lo-income neighborhoods could be computer-generated and swiftly erected. There are an estimated 1 billion people living in sub-standard conditions worldwide, according to the UN. 

Similarly, this technology also appears to have applications in natural or man-made disaster areas, that is, in locations wiped out by hurricanes, tsunamis and earthquakes, or warfare and strife in refugee situations, involving the massive and permanent displacement of populations. There are 37 million uprooted people world-wide. 

Thirdly, NASA is also participating in the development of Contour Crafting technology to build lunar colonies (i.e.; landing pads, roads, hangars, radiation protections walls). Contour Crafting is assumed capable of utilizing in situ resources, lunar regolith to make the cementitious materials that will be used to build colonies with integrated radiation shielding, plumbing, electrical and sensor networks (!) 

And finally, one could be permitted to envision that such an infinitely variable construction process might become fashionable and interesting enough for architects to explore, so that in turn, it might become a more mainstream, real and affordable option, for  anyone who wants a new abode.

Below is a T
ED talk by Dr. Behrokh Khoshnevis, Director of the Graduate Manufacturing Engineering program at USC and the inventor of Contour Crafting Technology.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Oh, patents! Bio-ink & 3D Bioprinting

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann
Bio-ink and 3D bio-printing are no longer science fiction fantasies! Organovo, Inc., the San Diego company at the helm of bio-ink bio-engineered tissues is a public company, listed on the NYSE!

Bio-ink consists of cells which are injected using an ink-jet printer, in a hydrogel matrix, according to algorithms that model real human tissue. So for example, the cells of such organs as arteries, or muscle, or skin, are injected into a hydrogel scaffold, precisely in the configuration in which they occur in real tissue, using ink-jet technology, and once injected “the magic begins” as the cells fuse together to form tissues (muscle, skin, arteries), according to their own genetic programs. Heart muscle tissue, for example, starts to “beat” a few days after printing, once the cells have fused into place, and they start to function as heart muscle. This sounds like science fiction…. only it is really happening in San Diego, at Organovo! (

In 2013, Organovo, Inc, filed at least three patent applications, two for the platform and devices for tissue engineering, and one for the tissue production process. These are respectively: US2013164330 – Platform for engineered implantable tissues and organs and methods of making same; EP2629975 – Devices, systems and methods for fabrication of tissues; and US 2013190201-Engineered tissues for in vitro research uses, arrays thereof, and methods of making the same.

There are many advantages to this promising technology. The first is the very real possibility of 3D printing organs on demand, using the recipient’s own cells, and thereby solving two pervasive problems: the shortage of organs for transplants, and transplant rejection. There are also advantages for drug testing, as human (bio-ink) bio-engineered tissue can be used far earlier in the process of drug development, thus reducing both the failure rate of potential drug targets and the costs of drug trials. Bioprinted bioengineered tissues are also far better tissues than those traditionally “grown” in a petri dish, as they are 3D printed according to real organelle specifications, with the vascularization cells that sustain them, which makes then implantable.

The future further suggests the possibility of 3D bio-printing complete organs, such as a heart, a liver or a kidney, with replicated functions and structure, perfect compatibility and sufficient speed for lifesaving and commercially viable practices, even though the end result may not look exactly like the original. To date, a complete bladder has been bio-printed as well as a very tiny miniature liver. There are also ongoing uses of human bio-engineered breast tissue, skin tissue and coronary tissue grafts.

Finally, in a world where hunger affects 800 million people, this technology is seen as a potentially life-saving solution, which, by the same unspoken token, could mean true salvation for both omnivores and vegetarians. Indeed, there appears no reason why you could not, in a completely different context, 3D print your filet mignon, tender chicken breasts and juicy lamb chops.

Imagine, steaks without the slightest possibility of a stray prion! Thanskgiving without the turkey holocaust! YES!.....

Below a  link to a TEDMED 2011 presentation by Organovo, Inc, founder Gabor Forgacs.

TEDMED - GAbor Forbacs at TEDMED

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Oh, patents! The colonoscopy pill

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Question:  How do you combine a patent translation blog with a medical translation one?
Answer: The colonoscopy pill!

 A colonoscopy is an endoscopic, medical imaging procedure, where a long flexible tube, called an  endoscope, measuring 48 to 72 inches and equipped with a light and a video camera is inserted through the rectum to examine the lining of the large intestine called the colon, and sometimes the lower part of the small intestine called the ileum. The colonoscopy is designed as a screening test, where bleeding may be detected; small growths, called polyps may be removed; and biopsies of any abnormal tissues may be performed. The whole procedure takes about 20 minutes to an hour, and is performed under new anesthetics called conscious sedation.
The colonoscopy has become almost a “rite of passage” in the US for the 50 something crowd as the CDCs (Centers for Disease Control) recommend colonoscopies every 10 years beginning at age 50 to 75 as part of routine colorectal cancer screening procedures.
The risks of traditional colonoscopy include perforation of the intestinal lining and incomplete viewing or blind spots. And the disadvantages include the costs of a procedure that includes sedation, the discomfort of bowel preparations, and imperfect detection.
Imagine now… a colonoscopy pill! One such colon imaging device or endoscopy capsule, called an “Ingestible device platform for the colon”, is the invention recited in US Patent Application 2005/0266074 A1, filed by Spectrum Dynamcs, Inc. The colonoscopy pill or capsule endoscopy is less invasive, even if it still requires bowel preparation.
Below, the abstract of the patent and the patent drawing of the expanding and contracting pill, are included.
 Abstract 2005/0266074 A1 Ingestible device platform for the colon
An ingestible pill platform for colon imaging is provided, designed to recognize its entry to the colon and expand in the colon, for improved imaging of the colon walls. On approaching the external anal sphincter muscle, the ingestible pill may contract or deform, for elimination. Colon recognition may be based on a structural image, based on the differences in diameters between the small intestine and the colon, and particularly, based on the semilunar fold structure, which is unique to the colon. Additionally or alternatively, colon recognition may be based on a functional image, based on the generally inflammatory state of the vermiform appendix. Additionally or alternatively, pH, flora, enzymes and (or) chemical analyses may be used to recognize the colon.; The imaging of the colon walls may be functional, by nuclear-radiation imaging of radionuclide-labeled antibodies, or by optical-fluorescence-spectroscopy imaging of fluorescence-labeled antibodies. Additionally or alternatively, it may be structural, for example, by visual, ultrasound or MRI means. Due to the proximity to the colon walls, the imaging in accordance with the present invention is advantageous to colonoscopy or virtual colonoscopy, as it is designed to distinguish malignant from benign tumors and detect tumors even at their incipient stage, and overcome blood-pool background radioactivity
In practice, however, research is inconclusive on the advantages of capsule endoscopy, as the capsule does not seem to pick up on adenomas as well as more conventional methods of endoscopy, and most importantly the time involved to interpret and analyze the images taken by the pill platform is far greater (Ussui,, 2012). Pill colonoscopy also does not enable concomitant therapeutic intervention, or local cleansing for better visualization.
CDC - Colorectal Cancer Screening guidelines
Ussui, V. M (2012) Advances in colonoscopy. Discov Med13(71):313-321, April 2012.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Oh, patents! Apple Touch ID

© Françoise Herrmann
 Apple’s new Iphone 5S comes equipped with new Touch ID technology. This technology, is designed to give you access to your Iphone without “sliding to unlock”, using a finger print sensor under the home button. 
The patent application for Touch ID technology, US20130271422 (A1),was published just a few days ago, on October 17, 2013!
Touch ID technology is called “Capacitive sensing array modulation”, and the scope of the invention extends to other devices, which means that you may find similar capacitive sensors with your next Macbook or Ipad enabling you to login with your finger print instead of typing in your password. And that’s a huge deal… on many counts… chiefly because typing in passwords is very time consuming, and you probably have too many passwords to remember…
Capacitive or “touchscreen” technology, is the touch-driven technology that revolutionized interfacing with computers, tablets and smartphones, once Apple started to build it into the screens of its first Iphone.
How does a capacitive fingerprint sensor work, and what is the technical problem addressed with Apple’s Touch ID tech?
Capacitive sensors produce a fingerprint image by measuring the capacitance, or amount of electric charge, between each sensing element of the sensor, and the fingerprint’s fleshy ridges and valleys, with capacitance inversely proportional to the separation distance. Thus, the capacitance of fingerprint fleshy ridges is higher than the capacitance of the fleshy valleys.
The trick in obtaining a clear finger print image lies partly in the right amount of voltage, or flesh excitability. When the voltage of the sensing elements is too high, the sensing creates an uncomfortable physical sensation for the user (i.e., an electric shock), and when it is too low, the capacitance readings yield a blurry image.
Apple’s invention consists in resolving this issue, with a capacitive array sensing technology that provides high voltage resolution without shocking the user’s finger (!)
So, the Iphone 5S probably started a whole new way of accessing your computers, tablets and smartphones. Bye bye “slide and unlock”, bye-bye passwords…(finally)!
Below is the Touch ID patent application abstract and an Apple Iphone Touch ID set up screen:

 Abstract -US20130271422 (A1)
 Capacitive sensing array modulation
A capacitive fingerprint sensor that may be formed of an array of sensing elements. Each capacitive sensing element of the array may register a voltage that varies with the capacitance of a capacitive coupling. A finger may capacitively couple to the individual capacitive sensing elements of the sensor, such that the sensor may sense a capacitance between each capacitive sensing element and the flesh of the fingerprint. The capacitance signal may be detected by sensing the change in voltage on the capacitive sensing element as the relative voltage between the finger and the sensing chip is changed. Alternately, the capacitance signal may be detected by sensing the change in charge received by the capacitive sensing elements as the relative voltage between the finger and the sensing chip is changed.
Inventors :Jean-Marie Bussat, Steven Hotelling, and Benjamin Lyon
Source: Only at the USPTO…! Select icon that will display with blog

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Oh, patents! Siri

© Françoise Herrmann 
Siri, the voiced, personal assistant and knowledge navigator, inside your Iphone 4S and higher, is notoriously smart, funny, helpful and sweet. True! I fell in love with her US inboxation, instantly.
Here is what Siri said to me, the very first time I queried her. I was looking for a parking space.

SiRi asked: What can I help you with?
I said: Yelp!
And SiRi opened up Yelp!, a small app for finding just about anything anywhere.
Then SiRi asked again: "What can I help you with?"
I said "Parking"
And SiRi replied:
There are 5 bike shops near you....!!!! 

 I thought this was immensely clever… and loved it that Siri was so mindful of global warming… and so began the love affair with my Iphone….

 Siri’s voice technology, purchased by Apple, was masterminded by Nuance Communications, Inc.. Nuance is the same company that masterminds Dragon™, now a cloud-based voice recognition and transcription program, widely used in medical settings --and by many translators who have ditched typing, preferring to dictate their translations!

 Siri’s voice technology, transformed into a natural language-driven personal assistant and knowledge navigator, is recited in US PatentUS2021016678 titled Intelligent Automated System, filed by Apple, Inc., and awarded in 2012 to  GRUBER THOMAS ROBERT [US]; CHEYER ADAM JOHN [US]; KITTLAUS DAG [US]; GUZZONI DIDIER RENE [CH]; BRIGHAM CHRISTOPHER DEAN [US]; GIULI RICHARD DONALD [US]; BASTEA-FORTE MARCELLO [US]; SADDLER HARRY JOSEPH [US]

 Below, you will find the abstract of Apple’s patent US2021016678, and a link to Siri live on YouTube! 

 Abstract US20121016678 - Intelligent Automated System - aka SIRI
An intelligent automated assistant system engages with the user in an integrated, conversational manner using natural language dialog, and invokes external services when appropriate to obtain information or perform various actions. The system can be implemented using any of a number of different platforms, such as the web, email, smartphone, and the like, or any combination thereof. In one embodiment, the system is based on sets of interrelated domains and tasks, and employs additional functionally powered by external services with which the system can interact. 

Oh, patents - Adam Harvey @ NYU

© Françoise Herrmann
There is an inventor among us!... An NYU student, just like you! His name is Adam Harvey and his patent is US2012056546, an anti-papparazzi  device. It is marketed as the CamoFlash™ and is part of a whole line of fashion wear designed for living in a total surveillance!  That is, Stealth Wear designed to protect you from surveillance cameras taking pictures, or decoy paint and hairstyles called CV Dazzle,  designed to function as a camouflage for all face recognition software!  What is more, CV Dazzle™ (meaning Computer Vision Dazzle) was actually masterminded as an NYU Master’s thesis in the Interactive Telecommunications Program!
 In Privacy we trust is Adam Harvey’s motto, and in his own words:

Stealth Wearcontinues to explore the aesthetics of privacy and the potential for fashion to challenge authoritarian surveillance….Stealth Wear is a vision for fashion that addresses the rise of surveillance, the power of those who surveil, and the growing need to exert control over what we are slowly losing, our privacy.”  

 This is radical fashion, even if it takes a “burqa to be stealthy! In the olden days Adam Harvey’s “burqa” may have been called a “poncho”, but that was in the wild west, when Zappata, was still riding the Sierras. Harvey’s Stealth Wear anti-drone burqa is made of metallized fabric, specially designed to protect against thermal imaging surveillance, a technology used in drones or UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles).
 The Adam Harvey (aka AH) projects website offers plenty of dialog, and plenty of solutions for living in an increasingly scrutinized world.  Visit join the conversation.
 As for Adam Harvey’s anti-paparazzi patent. the idea is brilliant as it involves detection of paparazzi flashes and in response, the emission of even brighter lights, in a portable fashion accessory that looks like a clutch bag!
Below, you will find the patent abstract of the anti-paparazzi/identity protection system and a patent drawing of one embodiment of the anti-paparazzi fashion accessory; a real life picture of how the Camoflash ™ works when it flashes to obscure your ID; and a picture of the anti-drone scarf,  a variation of the Stealth Wear  burqa!

 Abstract [US2012056546]
Anti-paparazzi/identity protection system 
A method and apparatus described herein uses sensors to detect illumination indicative of an active auto-focus system in the IR, near IR, and visible light spectrums. This signal is used to trigger a light in the visible spectrum that disrupts a contrast differencing, passive auto-focus system.
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Go Adam Harvey! Go NYU!!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

October 1 - World Vegetarian Day

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Lots to ponder, and no telling anyone what to put on their plates, in their mouths and into their bodies – at least not without great caution or very careful investigative research - as Michael Pollan may have discovered on tour for his opus and many sequels (Pollan, 2007, 2008, 2009).  But perhaps that, today, we can all honor those little creatures that carry the burden of health and that give us so much in terms of information for our well-being at the cost of their small lives and a lot of suffering. Perhaps, that this Oct. 1 day can be a day of thanks to the millions upon millions of animals who die for us, not only the ones that feed us, keep our bodies warm, and our feet protected, but also the ones that give us hope and insight, at the cost of their own, otherwise completely insignificant, lives.

Pollan, M. (2007) The omnivore’s dilemma: A natural history of four meals.  New York, NY: The Penguin Group.
Pollan, M. (2008) In defense of food: An eater’s manifesto. New York, NY: The Penguin Group.
Pollan, M. (2009) Food rules: An eaters’ manual. New York, NY: The Penguin Group.