Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Oh, patents! IBM AR (augmented reality) shopping

Copyright© Françoise Herrmann

AR applications (i.e.; augmented reality applications different from amplified reality applications according to Falk, Reström and Björk) encompass a plethora of applications, in a wide range of domains, from fashion, shopping, tourism and interior decorating, to (ocular) iris, face, photo or finger print recognition, which are usually referred to as biometrics applications when they are security-related.

In AR (augmented reality) users are able to bring together the virtual world and the real world, in real time interaction, which ultimately imposes new properties on physical objects (private and/or public) and thus deepens (augmenting and/or amplifying) the real world experience. So, for example, AR shopping may bring together shelf products and vast amounts of information stored in databases which can be queried in real time. The user simply scans the products from the shelf and begins interacting with the vast amount of stored or virtual information that superimposes the product. Assuming, for example, that the user scanned several boxes of breakfast cereal, the AR application may then allow the user to find out, in real time as a personal aid to the shopping experience, which box has the best price, the lowest sugar content, the fewest calories per portion, the best product reviews, etc. Conversely, the shopper can specify desired characteristics in a shopping list, and the app can scan a shelf of products, or connect to the store inventory, to find a match, route the customer, and superimpose information on the product, thus assisting shoppers in selecting what to buy.  

The IBM patent application US2014201026 titled Personalized customer shopping experience does just what was described above plus much more! Indeed, there are also means disclosed for the consumer products to “announce” via technology, directly to the shopper approaching the product in the aisle, that there is a match with the shopper’s preferences or shopping interests, habits or modeled propensity for replenishment. So, for example, if the shopper enters a store to buy a TV, the TV that matches the shopper’s interests, shopping profile, and/or search criteria, will ”announce” this “temporal understanding of the product preferences of a given customer within the store” to the shopper entering a threshold vicinity or  proximity. In other words, no more searching, reading all the labels or asking for assistance to the salesperson when faced with a wall full of TV screens! The desired TV (match) will “reach out” to the customer… with a buzz and/or message: “Hi Bill, I am Sony Bravia, 32 inch, Hi-Definition, Smart LED TV. My cost is $465, with 1 yr additional warrantee and free home delivery”. And even suggest “cross-selling or related products” based on “known or understood relevance to the consumer’s needs” – a function that translates almost proverbially as “you might also be interested in….”.

This AR shopping experience is achieved by aligning the available inventory of the store (as soon as the shopper walks into the store), with the means that determine what is known and modeled about the shopper’s current intent, habits, preferences, tastes, prior purchases or propensity for replenishment (i.e. the shopper’s shopping list!). The invention also includes means for switching on an audio and/or visual signal designed to greet the customer, announce matches, and suggest cross matches with the customer’s known preferences or current interests and shopping intent. The matching and announcement means further comprise a rank-ordering system designed to organize all the potential matches between the available inventory of products and the consumer’s shopping list (i.e. known or current state of the shopper’s preferences, tastes, intents or propensity for replenishment).

Finally, since this is ultimately a research-based, and multilayered computer program (or software) invention, whose authored instructions and code could technically only be copyrighted, this computer program is patented as media-supported instructions for running a “method”.  Thus, the patent covers a computer program product, able to perform the shopping assistance operations, that includes “a storage medium readable by a processing circuit and storing instructions run by the processing circuit for running a method.”

For further information, the abstract for this invention is included below for US2014201026 titled Personalized customer shopping experience.
A method that improves and enhances the customer's in-store shopping experience. The consumer product of purchase interest or intent to buy expresses (or self-announces via technology) it's match (or fit based on known or understood buying habits, customer taste, tendencies, etc) against the customer preferences during an in-store shopping experience.
To conclude with a completely different take on augmented and /or amplified reality… Adam Harvey, an Interactive Telecommunications NYU alumni, is making waves at the intersection of technology and counter-surveillance using decoys, spoofing and camouflage technologies, in art, to express the angst of amplification...  (e.g.; McNeil , 2012)

 Thus, I suspect that Adam Harvey would offer a completely different approach on such a personalized customer shopping experience and what might alternatively be perceived as hinging on invasion of privacy and encroachment on personal space, arising in the modeling of consumer habits and GPS tracking…. But that is indeed a whole different set of concerns and sensitivities voiced in a world of ubiquitous computing (Weiser,1996)!

Flak, J., Reström, J. and S. Bjork () Amplifying reality.
Herrmann, F. (2013) Oh, patents! Adam Harvey @ NYU. Post at Patents on the soles of your shoes on Oct 20, 2013)
McNeill, J. (2012) Artist profile: Adam Harvey. Rhizome, June 11, 2012.
Weiser, M. (1996)
Weiser, M. (1993) "Some Computer Science Problems in Ubiquitous Computing," Communications of the ACM, July 1993. (reprinted as "Ubiquitous Computing". Nikkei Electronics; December 6, 1993; pp. 137-143.) 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Oh, patents! Apple joystick

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Are you a computer game buff? Do you miss the joystick experience when playing computer games on your Iphone or Ipad? 

Rejoice! Apple just disclosed a pop-up joystick on January 15, 2015 in patent application US20150015475, titled Multifunction input device!

In a nutshell, this invention is designed to provide users with a pop-up home button! In one mode, the button is flush with the surface of the Iphone or Ipad, functioning as a regular push button. In the other mode the button “pops out” or projects from the surface to give the user a joystick experience for all sorts of computer games, including flight simulators!

The following two patent drawings show a cross-sectional view of the home button with shaft and spring illustrated in the two modes: flush and "proud".  The first mode of the home button is pressed (flush with the surface of the Iphone or Ipad), and the second mode of the home button is depressed (popped-out or "proud", in regards the surface of the Iphone or Ipad). The spring brings the shaft back to the illustrated center position, after the user has tilted it right or left:

For the button to pop out or back flush with the surface of the Iphone or Ipad, the user will have to press on it  beyond a threshold value (i.e. exert a force stronger than 1000 g). In the pop-out mode, the input device is designed for use in 3 directions corresponding to the 3D directions of the Y axis (horizontal), the X axis (vertical), and the Z axis (depth). In the popped back in (flush) mode, the button can only be pressed in the Z axis (depth) direction.  The input device is thus multifunctional as it may work in both conventional push button mode and three dimensional joystick mode.  The picture below shows a regular home button flush with the surface of an Iphone.
Beyond the mechanical aspects of the pop-up bottom which may include a shaft and spring as illustrated above, or a variety of additional implementations such as sensors and electromagnets to activate release of the button, or a telescoping mechanism, the invention also includes the instructions or software readable device for the computer program controlling the operations of both modes of the input device. Media support may include magnetic storage (e.g.; floppy disc), optical storage (e.g.; CD-ROM), read-only memory (ROM), random-access memory (RAM), erasable programmable memory (EPROM), flash memory or other. 

As mentioned elsewhere in this blog (for example for the patentability of the QR code), the only way to patent software or a computer program is via media support or a code-readable device.  This is because, computer instructions or the computer code itself that constitutes software or a computer program, appearing in writing, can otherwise only be protected via Copyright law, which is historically both controversial and inadequate  in this case. 

In any event, keep an eye out for a future generation of your Iphone or Ipad equipped with a pop-up joystick/home button, termed a multifunctional input device.  This invention is patent-pending, even if it is not yet marketed! 

The abstract for US20150015475titled Multifunctional input device is included below for reference purposes:
An electronic device includes a surface and a multi-function input device. The multi-function input device is operable in at least a first mode and a second mode. In the first mode, an input portion of the multi-function input device is flush with the surface or recessed in the surface and is operable to receive z axis press input data. In the second mode, the input portion is positioned proud of the surface (i.e., project from the surface) and is operable to receive x axis input data and/or y axis input data. The input portion may also be operable to receive z axis input data in the second mode. In one example, the multi-function input device may have a button mode and a joystick mode.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Oh, patents! Nike automated lacing system

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Hooray for Spring 2015!! And what better kick off than the prospect of never having to tie your shoelaces again!

 Indeed, shoe laces begone! Welcome automated lacing!

Nike has just patented an automated lacing system for their Back to the Future Air Mags! These shoes are a replica of the sneakers worn by Marty McFly, played by Michael J. Fox, in the movie Back to the Future II. Nike marketed Back to the future Air Mags in 2011 with all proceeds of the sale benefiting the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, but the 2011 Back to the future Air Mags did not have automated shoe lacing like the ones in the movie!

The automated lacing feature is now patented and Nike Back to the future Air Mags with automated lacing are slated for rollout in 2015! The sneakers contain a motor inserted inside a cavity of the heel portion of the sole.  The motor with a driveshaft and yoke is connected to straps on the upper portion of the sneakers in such a manner that when the motor is activated, the straps tighten to close, or loosen to open.  

The sneakers also include an automated ankle cinching system that adjusts to the user’s ankle. The mechanism for the ankle cinching strap is a coil spring that winds around a shaft located in a housing at the back of the ankle. Finally the sneakers also contain user-activated means of controlling the lacing and ankle cinching systems in the form of a button or switch. And the system may also include a user-activated (weight) sensor for activation of the laces  

Below you will find the abstract for Nike patent US 8769844, titled Automated Shoe Lacing System, awarded on July 8, 2014. You will also find a patent figure drawing, an image of the product for marketing (above), and a short clip of Marty McFly (aka Michael J. Fox) in Back to the Future II putting on Air Mags with automated (power) lacing! 

 Abstract - US 8769844  

An article of footwear with an automatic lacing system is disclosed. The automatic lacing system provides a set of straps that can be automatically opened and closed to switch between a loosened and tightened position of the upper. The article further includes an automatic ankle cinching system that is configured to automatically adjust an ankle portion of the upper.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Long Live Charlie Hebdo ! March against terror on 01-11-2015

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

G47 + 2 million people answered French President François Holland’s call to march in Paris on Jan 11, 2015 for a huge demonstration against racism and antisemiticsm, and to uphold the values of democracy, pluralism and freedom. 47 heads of states, and 87 international delegations were bused to the front of the procession, which slowly unfolded from Place de la République to Place de la Nation, in the center of Paris.  Among the heads of State, the leaders of Israel and Palestine, Prime Ministers Binyamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas and, the President of Mali Ibrahim Boubecar Keita and a total of 8 African heads of State; heads of State from Europe, including Prime Minister Angela Merkel from Germany, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi from Italy, Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt from Denmark, Prime Minister David Cameron from Great Britain; The King of Jordan, former French Prime ministers and former French President Nicholas Sarkozy,  and other European dignitaries.

According to French TV5 commentators, no comparable event mobilized so many people in France since the end of World War II -- not even victory of the World Cup in 1998 that brought an euphoric crowd of 1.5 million people to the Champs Élysées.  And no comparable event ever brought together so many contrasts: some of the most powerful political figures of the world, from all sides of an often tense political spectrum, walking arm in arm, in honor of the most irreverent and slain political cartoonists and columnists of France, side by side, in the middle of the street, with the families of all 17 people who fell during the massacre and concurrent hostage situations; representatives of all the major religions (Islamic, Jewish, Catholic, Protestant, Budhist…)  and of all the powerful Trade Unions; and in unprecedented numbers (2 million in Paris and another 2 million elsewhere in France), the people of France, cheering the police authorities they so often rebuke, in an unusual and deeply felt appreciation for the heroic work that was accomplished in trying to protect hostages during the past days of bloodshed.

In an extraordinary show of motivational displacement and act of caring (Noddings, 1984), the banners and posters of this march expressed solidarity with the victims of violence, and belonging to a collective humanity. The posters held during the walk overwhelmingly read: “I am Charlie”.  But in many instances they also read on the same poster:  “I am Charlie, I am a cop and I am Jewish” in reference the full palette of victims. Similarly, the posters read elsewhere: “I am Muslim”, “I am Ahmed” or “I am French, I am American, I am the Republic”. The City of Paris bulletin boards flashed:  “I am Jewish, I am Muslin, I am Atheist, I am Christian, I am French, I am a citizen of the World, I am Charlie”.

Beyond politics for whom this march was a powerful symbol of national and international unity; beyond religion for whom this march was a powerful symbol of joyful communion; and completion in the rallying values of the French Republic upholding fraternity, equality and freedom (freedom of expression in particular), this was probably the first march against Hate, where everyone (present) was symbolically expressing access to consciousness of a shared and universal humanity, in deep awareness of one's self and care for an other. “I am Charlie” held by man, woman and child, meaning: I care, I feel for you. I could be you.  All of this is also happening to me. “I am muslin, I am Jewish and I am Atheist” meaning: I have accessed a universal level of consciousness and feeling for  (or care) that transcends our social and cultural differences. We can live together as one caring (dual, I and thou) humanity and embrace all our differences.

In further feeling for (or care), and enlightened awareness of the collective forces at stake, the buzz word of the demonstration was also about avoiding “amalgamization”, or (con)fusing everyone, and toggling into an emotional flip side or degradation of consciousness, a core of hate, where an undifferentiated  object, whole groups (Jews, Blacks, Muslims, Women…etc) become the target of collective violence, including individuals in isolation when they are perceived  indiscriminately as part of the targeted group. 

On Jan. 11, 2015, the G47 heads of state claimed that Paris was the capital of the world! Cartoonists sketched the slain humorists standing on a cloud in heaven, watching the march from above, with the caption: “We got them! We converted them all!”

Now, what’s next? What about tomorrow? An amazing momentum was created on Jan. 11, 2015.  What's going to change?

First, an important message for terrorism was delivered on Jan 11, 2015. It was a very clear message, pronounced by 4 million people, defying terrorism, saying NO! This is probably not enough for diverting the hundreds of youths who are seduced and manipulated by the ideology of fundamentalism and extremism, and too late for convincing the hardcore Jihadhists otherwise. But at least, on Jan 11, 2015, there was no ambiguity in the message conveyed.  And that was a beginning – just in case anyone is still waffling.

The sad events of the week of Jan 7, 2015, and the extraordinary show of solidarity that was invoked in the aftermath, coincided with the publication of Soumission (from the same Arabic root as “Islam” and “muslim” meaning having surrended  to “God”), a book by Michel Houellebecq, one of France’s best-selling authors.  Soumission tells the political fiction of France under an Islamic party rule in the year 2022, after an election where both the right and the left political forces colluded in handing power to Islamic rule. The subliminal message in fictional terms is surely a warning, optionally a wake-up call…

In any event, in real life, submission and indifference lost their fictionally perceived grip on France. In light of the barbaric events that occurred recently in Paris, and the momentum they created in mobilizing 4 million people, including 47 heads of state and 87 international delegations, the veil was lifted (no pun intended), albeit for just one afternoon.  Clearly, an important cross-section of France rose to the occasion, in a spectacular demonstration of civil action and care.

So, indeed, perhaps that tomorrow will bring change, filled with the energy and power of the moments of Jan 11 2015; change coming from that part of the human consciousness that motivated such an unprecedented show of solidarity, and unity in the face of terrorism. According to the President of the European parliament, Martin Schulze, interviewed live on TV5 after the event, these are for example changes in education and efforts to integrate marginal populations, rather than changes in an already coherent penal system and a return of the death penalty…

 On the education front, the call on all sides of the classroom stage was for more dialogue, whether the call came from the philosopher and academic Raphaël Enthowen, the activist Daniel Cohn-Bendit or the French singer-rapper and film-maker Abl al Malik. For education, the call was for the initiation of  conversation, designed to really explain and impart meaning to the differences and nuances between items such as, for example: love and hate, madness and sanity (Lurhmann, 2014), terrorism and sabotage (Potter, 2011), war and terrorism, law and taking the law in your own hands, damage and collateral damage, action and violence, retaliation and vengeance, religion and fundamentalism, the Coran and interpretations of the Coran, plausibility and reality, democracy and pluralism, racism, sexism, sectarism, dogmatism etc… all of which waltzes around without embodied meaning, and clearly gets very confused, under conditions of hardship (Zimbardo, 2007), economic inequalities and frustrated efforts to build dreams.

“I am Charlie” -- and the publication on Jan 14, 2015 of this week’s issue No. 1178 of Charlie Hebdo  -- are courageous acts of defiance in the face of terror (courage has same root as the verb "to care") as they ultimately mean -- despite the bloodshed and bullets that killed 17 people, despite the hate, and what the terrorists sought to inflict and destroy  -- (I care)  Charlie is still alive. Indeed, Charlie is now 4 million or more people stronger.  Long live Charlie!

Cohn-Bendit, D & G. Verhifstadt (2013) Debout l'Europe: Manifeste pour une révolution post-nationale en EuropeParis, France: Editions Actes Sud
Enthowen, R. (2013) Matière première. Paris, France: Editions Gallimard
Houellebecq, M. (2015) Soumission. Paris, France: Editions Flammarion
Lurhmann, T. M. (2014) When god talks back: Understanding the American evangelical relationship with god.  New York, NY: Random House.
Malik, A. al (2014) Qu'Allah bénisse la France! Paris, France: Editions Albin Michel.
Noddings, N. (1984) Caring: A feminine approach to ethics and moral education. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
Potter, W. (2011) Green is the new Red: A insider’s account of a social movement under siege. San Francisco, CA: City Lights books
TV5 – Journal Télévisé de 20h du dimanche 11 janvier 2015 présenté par Laurent Delahousse.
Zimbardo, P. (2007) The Lucifer effect: Understanding how good people turn evil. New York, NY: Random House. 

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Long live Charlie Hebdo! Further reading….

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Here is a short list, among the hundreds of books published by the slain Charlie Hebdo humorists and columnists: Jean Cabut (pen name Cabu), Elsa Cayat, Stéphane Charbonnier (pen name Charb), Bernard Maris, Philippe Honoré, Bernard Verlhac (pen name Tignous) and Georges Wolinski.

The slain Charlie Hebdo folks were best-selling humorists, graphic artists and writers. One columnist Bernard Maris was both economist and academic, and the slain woman columnist, Elsa Cayat, was a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst.

Cabu et al.  (2014) Dégage Marine! Paris, France : Éditions Les Échappés
Cabu (2013)  Dessins cruels. Paris, France : Éditions Le Cherche Midi
Cabu (2013) Cabu à New York. Paris, France : Éditions Les Arènes
Cabu (2013) Cabu Swing. Paris, France : Editions Éditions Les Échappés
Cabu (2012) Peut-on rire de tout ? Paris, France : Editions Le Cherche Midi
Cayat, E. (2007) Un homme + une femme = Quoi ? Paris,  France : Petite Bibliothèque Payot.
Cayat E. & A. Fischetti (2007) Le désir et la putain : Les enjeux cachés de la sexualité masculine. Paris,  France : Éditions Albin Michel.
Charb (2014) Petit traité d’intolérance: Les fatwas de Charb. Tome II. Paris,  France : Éditions Les Échappés
Charb & Zineb  (2013) La vie de Mahomet. Paris,  France : Éditions Les Échappés
Charb (2012) Petit traité d’intolérance: Les fatwas de Charb. Tome I. Paris,  France : Éditions 84
Charb (2012) La salle des profs.  Paris,  France : Éditions 12 Bis
Charb (2009) Maurice et Patapon Tome 4 : Hausse du pouvoir d’un chat. Paris,  France : Éditions Hoëbeke
Charb (2007) Maurice et Patapon Tome 3 : La France qui se lèche tôt. Paris,  France : Éditions Hoëbeke
Charb (2006) Maurice et Patapon Tome 2 : Ça rafraîchit. Paris,  France : Éditions Hoëbeke
Charb (2005) Maurice et Patapon Tome 1 : Coupable, forcément coupable. Paris,  France : Éditions Hoëbeke
Honoré (2011)  Je hais les petites phrases.  Paris,  France : Éditions Les Échappés
Honoré (2006) Cent nouveaux rebus littéraires. Paris,  France : Éditions Arlea
Honoré (2003) Livret de vingt-cinq rebus littéraires. Paris,  France : Éditions Arlea
Honoré (2001) Cent rebus littéraires. Paris,  France : Éditions Arlea
Maris, B. (2014) Houellebecq économiste. Paris,  France : Éditions Flammarion
Oncle Bernard (2013) Journal d’un économiste en crise. Paris,  France : Éditions Les Les Échappés
Maris, B. (2012) Marx ô Marx, pourquoi m’as-tu abandonné? Paris,  France : Éditions Flammarion
Maris, B. (2007)  Keynes ou l’économiste citoyen.  Deuxième Édition. Paris,  France : Les Presses de Science Po.
Maris, B. et. Al (2008) Petits principes de langue de bois économique.  Paris,  France : Éditions Bréal
Maris, B (2006)  Antimanuel de l’économie. Tome 2 Les cigales. Paris,  France : Éditions Bréal
Maris, b. (20013) Lettre ouverte aux gourous de l’économie qui nous prennent pour des imbéciles. Paris,  France : Éditions Seuil, Collection Points
Tignous (2012) Pandas dans la brume : Dans la foret des bambous. Paris,  France : Éditions Drugstore
Tignous (2011) 5 ans sous Sarkozy. Paris,  France : Éditions 12 Bis
Tignous (2010) Le fric c’est Kapital. Paris,  France : Éditions 12 Bis
Tignous (2005) Tas de pauvres. Paris,  France : Éditions Denoël
Tignous (1999) Tas de riches. Paris,  France : Éditions Denoël
Wolinski, G. (2014) Le village des femmes. Paris, France : Éditions Seuil
Wolinski, G. (2013) Vive la France. Paris, France : Éditions Seuil.
Wolinski, G. (2012) Le pire a de l’avenir. Paris, France : Éditions Seuil 
Wolinski, G & E. Orsenna (2010) La sexualité des français : De de Gaulle à Sarkosy. Paris, France : Éditions Drugstore
Wolinski, G. (2009) Les femmes sont des hommes comme les autres. Paris, France : Éditions Drugstore
Wolinski, G. (2008) La France se tâte. Paris, France : Éditions Vent des Savannes

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Long live Charlie Hebdo! !@#$%^&* terrorism

The first 700,000 copies of this week's Charlie Hebdo are sold out ! 
Charlie Hebdo will be publishing 3 million copies  of its magazine this week, and on the cover of each copy (below) Luz's drawing of the Prophet Mahommed, will appear with the caption "Je suis Charlie" (I am Charlie) and the headline "Tout est pardonné" (All is forgiven). And everyone will wonder: Is it Mahommed forgiving Charlie or Charlie forgiving Mahommed.? 
Whatever interpretation you choose, it is unambiguously clear, that it's not over...  :-)

Jan 14 2015 issue
Translation: All is forgiven.  I am Charlie.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Long Live Charlie Hebdo! !@#$%^&* terrorism

All photos: Copyright© Le Nouvel Observateur

700,000 people throughout France have demonstrated in solidarity with “Charlie” in the aftermath of the massacre at Charlie Hebdo Offices on Jan 7, 2015. The gunmen killed 12 people, including 5 of the cartoonists, who for half a century poked fun at politicians, and leaders of all sorts, with brilliant talent:

Translation # I am Charlie
Nice, 23,000 demonstrators
 Lille 40,000 demonstrators
 Marseilles 45,000 demonstrators
 Nantes, 75,000 demonstrators
 Orleans 22,000 demonstrators
 Rueil-Malmaison (Paris subburb)
 Toulouse 120,000 demonstrators
 Pau 35,000 demonstrators 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015