Sunday, March 29, 2015

Oh, patents! Puff-N-Fluff®

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann
It was impossible to resist this pet dryer patent invented by Marissa Streng, a young 10-year-old inventor, found at the USPTO Kids!!

This invention was designed to fully dry your pooch after a bath, without fear of the process, or confinement before and after drying. The invention is even purported to have a “calming effect” on your pet due the pleasure of warm circulating air and, as a result, it will also give your pet a fluffier coat!

If you have ever used, or seen, a vintage (1960s) portable hairdryer with cap and flex hose attached, this invention is somewhat reminiscent!

The patent US8371246 titled Device for drying pets, was awarded in 2013 to Marissa Streng. Her project started as a third-grade science project and it won the USF Young Innovator Competition, which saw the project to market as the Puff-N-Fluff® pet dryer.

The idea of this pet dryer arises out of observation of the prior art of pooch drying, which appears very loud and frightening, and often confining for the animals being groomed. The invention thus seeks to resolve this situation by providing a device that consistently meets no resistance on the part of pets and strikes no fear, while fully drying and even fluffing the pooch’s coat. The term “consistently" is highlighted because the patent recites the problem of pets never wanting to experience drying a second time after a loud and confining first time. 

The invention consists of a garment with an attached flex hose which, once velcroed and secured with drawstrings and connected to a blow dryer via the flex hose, inflates with warm circulating air to dry the pet.

Below appear the abstract for US8371246 titled Device for drying pets, and a patent drawing of the invention inflated with a blow dryer, and worn by a pet. Above, also appears an image of the marketed Puff-N-Fluff®.
A pet-drying device including a flexible sheet material having four openings formed therein for receiving the legs of a four-legged animal. Each opening seals around the perimeter of a pet's leg. The sheet material includes first and second longitudinally disposed edges and first and second transversely disposed edges. A first hem in the first longitudinally disposed edge receives a first drawstring for loosely tightening the sheet material around the neck and a second hem in the second longitudinally disposed edge receives a second drawstring that tightens around the tail. The first and second transversely disposed edges are secured to one another with a releasable fastener when the device is wrapped into a tubular configuration around the trunk of a pet. Warm air from a hair dryer is delivered to the inside of the sheet material through an elongate hose that engages a large diameter opening formed in the sheet material. Abstract US8371246
For your pooch-loving friends, your own beloved pooch, or the young inventors at your residence!

USF Magazine – Summer 2011 – Entrepeneurs – Inventive kids

Friday, March 27, 2015

SXSW™ 2015 Awards – Solepower

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Solepower, one step at a time! These smart soles celebrate the power of walking both technically and holistically!

Finalists in the Wearable Tech
nologies category of the SXSW™ 2015 Accelerator Awards, the prototype of this invention was initially developed within the context of a mechanical engineering class at Carnegie Mellon. The professor assigned the task: “Make a product that will benefit students on campus” and the group designed the energy harvesting shoe, with LED lights, for safe walking at night! 

The rest is history… two members of the group, Hahna Alexander and Marc Stanton, refined the prototype, and a company called SolePower was born, extending the concept of a power harvesting shoe to mobile power generation and storage. The SolePower Ensole with PowerPac is the company's first manufactured product, designed to produce power “on the go” for charging mobile devices, as a benefit to people worldwide!

In a nutshell, this invention: harvests energy generated while walking using a smart sole inserted in a shoe, which also stores the collected energy in a USB-enabled powerpac attached to the shoe. The energy thus harvested can then be used to charge USB-enabled mobile devices – on the go. The invention sole is packed with embedded technology and it is manufactured in two parts, using podiatry guidelines for shock absorbency, comfort and fit on the top layer.

The recently published (March 12, 2015) patent application corresponding to the sole parts for comfort and housing of the mechanical and electronic hardware is WO2015034770, titled Segmented insoles for support of embedded systems. This patent recites a two part insole: a customizable, removable and cut-to-fit top part, designed according to podiatry guidelines, and a lower part for housing mechanical and electrical components, including treads for inducing friction with the base of the shoe.

The short abstract for WO2015034770, titled Segmented insoles for support of embedded systems appears below, with an image of the sole above.
A two part insole having one part for housing smart systems embedded within an insole, and a second part for maintaining comfort of a cut-to-fit insole to increase the functionality of the overall product for the user [WO2015034770]
If you plan on globetrotting, and think you might need power on the go, you can pre-order this product for $199.00. It includes 2 Ensoles and two PowerPacs (one for each foot!).


Thursday, March 26, 2015

SXSW™ 2015 Awards – Non-invasive skin cancer detection device

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

The University of Texas Cockrell School of Engineering (Sharma, 2014) won the 2015 SXSW Interactive Innovations Award, in the “Sci-fi No Longer” category, with a non-invasive skin cancer detection device. This is a pen looking optical probe that uses light spectroscopy in three different modes to interrogate skin tissue. It is non-invasive as it requires no biopsy for testing and diagnosis of skin lesions.

The three spectroscopic technologies of this device, termed MMS -multimodal spectroscopy, are  Raman spectroscopy (RS), diffuse reflectance spectroscopy (DRS) and laser-induced fluorescence spectroscopy (LIFS). Together these technologies, and their different modes of emitting light, are designed to provide complementary sorts of micro-environmental and biochemical information about skin tissue, for a far improved and faster diagnosis, compared to traditional macro-visual biopsy-based detection.  For example, an interrogation of skin tissue using the multimodal spectroscopy (MMS) probe takes about 4.5 seconds (compared to several days for biopsy results).

US2012057145 (A1) titled Systems and methods for diagnosis of epithelial lesions is the patent application corresponding to this device and its algorithms.

In general, this invention addresses problems of skin cancer diagnosis and the current and most common methods of diagnosis involving tissue biopsy. Beyond the discomfort, cosmetics, expenses and turnaround time for biopsy results, this most common method of diagnosis invokes inherently qualitative methods of macro-visual clinical examination, that is, physician experience in visually identifying which lesions are biopsied.  In turn, critical reliance on physician experience enters the equation, because there are documented differences in the accuracy with which lesions are detected among general practitioners and dermatologists [US2012057145], compounded by issues of access to specialized dermatology care, whether due to costs, geographic location or scarcity, and the burden of unnecessary biopsy. Finally, the accuracy of this inventive diagnostic method is also intended to resolve issues of safety margins for the perimeter of excisions when surgery is required.

Skin lesion micro-environments and bio-chemical properties are interrogated via spectroscopy, that is: 1. emitting a light source into a skin tissue using an optic fiber, 2. collecting the light re-emitted from the skin tissue with a second optic fiber, and 3. generating spectra for the light re-emitted from the skin tissue in terms of diagnostically relevant parameters such as intrinsic fluorescence and absorption, reduced scattering coefficients and Raman scattering, using a spectrophotometer. Then, the spectral information is matched with known properties using a specifically generated look-up table algorithm. It is known for example that the fluorescence of certain endogenous fluorophores such as collagen changes in the presence disease, and that the scattering and absorption properties of light will be affected by morphological changes of the tissue. The analysis of the light emitted back from the skin tissue thus yields micro-information about the properties of the skin tissue, such as collagen structure, nuclear morphology, blood fraction, oxygen saturation and a tissue scattering coefficient. all which swiftly informs diagnosis.

The development of this invention device and its method - that is, of the hardware and software, as well as the associated research were funded by the Centers for Disease Control.

The abstract of this multimodal spectroscopy invention, recited in US2012057145 (A1) titled Systems and methods for diagnosis of epithelial lesions, is included below, as well as a an image of the front view of the probe surface in contact with skin, showing Raman spectroscopy delivery (red) and collection (blue) fibers, and the diffuse reflectance spectroscopy delivery (yellow)  and collection (green)  fibers (Sharma, 2014).  

"Systems comprising an optical fiber switch connected to a light source and an optical fiber probe, the optical fiber probe comprising a first optical fiber connected to the optical fiber switch and a second optical fiber connected to a spectrophotometer. Methods for determining one or more tissue parameters comprising: emitting light from a first optical fiber into a tissue; collecting the light reemitted from the tissue with a second optical fiber; generating a spectra of the light reemitted from the tissue with a spectrophotometer; and utilizing a look-up table based algorithm to determine one or more tissue parameters, wherein the lookup-table based algorithm comprises the steps of: generating a look-up table by measuring the functional form of a reflectance measured by the spectrophotometer using one or more calibration standards with known optical properties; and implementing an iterative fitting routine based on the lookup-table." Abstract US2012057145 (A1)

Work appears underway to attempt to correct the effects of skin pigmentation on spectroscopic methods of skin cancer detection (e.g.; Soyemi et. al., 2005; Bersha 2010), including the issue of the depth of skin tissue interrogation (Tseng et. al. (2008). If skin cancer is more prevalent in fair skin individuals, it is nonetheless more fatal in darker skin individuals due to late diagnosis and misinformation about epidemiological data (The Skin Cancer Foudnation, 2009). 

In any event, this award-winning, non-invasive diagnostic technology is indeed... no longer sci-fi... 

Bersha, K. S. (2010) Spectral imaging and analysis of human skin. file://psf/Home/Downloads/Spectral%20imaging%20and%20analysing%20human%20skin,%20Kusse%20Sukuta%20BERSHA%20(1).pdf
Meyers, C. (2014) 3 in 1 Optical skin Cancer Probe.
Sharma, S., Marple, E., Reichenberg, J. and James W. Tunnell (2014) Design and characterization of a novel multimodal fiber-optic probe and spectroscopy system for skin cancer applications.
Soyemi, O., Landry, MR., Yang, Y., Idwasi, P., and B. Soller (2005) Skin color correction for tissue spectroscopy: demonstration of a novel approach with tissue mimicking phantoms. Feb. Applied Spectroscopy, 59(2), pp. 237-44
SXSW™ 2015 Interactive Media Awards
Tseng, H.S., Grant, A. and A.J. Durkin (2008) In vivo determination of skin near0infrared optical properties using diffuse optical spectroscopy. Journal of Biomedical Optics, 13(1).
UT – University of Texas (2014) New device improves Skin Cancer Detection

Sunday, March 22, 2015

World Water Day 2015

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Q: What is water?
A: Probably a taken for granted convenience or commodity in many places of the developed world.

In fact, the UN reminds everyone otherwise, and today especially on the occasion of World Water Day 2015. Indeed, water is much, much more. 

According to the UN, water is health, nature, urbanization, industry, energy, food and equality (Yes, women are estimated to spend 200 million hours each day fetching water for their families, in developing nations, which could be spent studying in school, in income-generating activity, or caring for family).[UN - Water]

Taking just one of the UN meanings of water: Water is health, here are a few key figures, culling information from the UN, the World Bank and WHO (World Health Organization):  
  • You cannot survive without water for more than a few days.
  •  It is estimated that every person needs about 20 Liters (4 gallons of water per day). [World Bank & UN] 
  •  An estimated 748 million people do not have access to safe drinking water world-wide, and 2.5 billion have no access to sanitation facilities [UN].
  • Safe water is water free from bacteria, safe for drinking and bathing, including treated surface water and uncontaminated water from springs, sanitary wells and protected bore holes [World Bank
  •  Sanitation is basic sewage and drainage systems that collect waste water and then clean and re-distribute it.  [World Bank]].
  • 88% of the global burden of disease is attributable to unsafe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene, concentrated on children in the developing world. [WHO 1WHO 2WHO 3]
 That should be plenty, but still there is more to water…

 Now, combine and reprocess all the UN meanings of water (health, nature, urbanization, industry, energy, food and equality) with Climate Change, and visit the EPA (US Environmental Protection Agency). This agency will provide you with information and news on the sorts of plans and measures being implemented to respond to the effects of Climate Change on water Resources.

In a nutshell, global planetary warming due to increased emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) is predicted to have effects on the “timing, forms and intensity of the precipitations, the flow of water in watersheds and the quality of aquatic and marine environments.” This means, for example,” longer and more severe droughts [..], less annual waterfalls and also increased rain and precipitation events [..], rises in sea level encroaching on freshwater areas and rises in stream and lake temperature”.  [EPA]

 Finally, back full circle to the UN -- water and climate change have prompted the CLICO  project (Climate Change, Hydro-conflicts and Human security). This project sought to uncover potential exacerbation of conflicts in the MMES region (Mediterranean, Middle East and Sahel) arising from climate change and its impact on water resources. And, interestingly enough, the project also explored the possibility, and opportunity, of increased cooperation and peace in these regions, precisely arising out of concerted efforts to counter the effects of global warming on water resources and their potential threat to human security. [UN - CLICO (1) UN-CLICO (2)]

 Indeed, there is much cause for celebration and action today! Happy World Water Day!

EPA – US Environmental Protection Agency – Climate change and water
UN Water – World Water Day 2015
UN – CLICO - Climate Change, Hydro-conflicts and Human security (1) (2)
WHO 1 – World Health organization - Water, Sanitation and Health (WSH)
WHO 2– Water related diseases
WHO 3 – WSH – Burden of disease and cost – effectiveness estimates
World Bank – DEP – Development Education Program - Glossary

Thursday, March 19, 2015

SXSW™ (South by SouthWest™) 2015

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

SXSW™ (a film, music and tech event) is now in Austin, TX.

 In 2015, there are 145 films scheduled for screening at SXSW film, March 13 to 21! 

And if SXSW™ music 2015 tops SXSW™ music 2014, there will be upwards of 28,000 music professionals attending the event, with more than 2300 performances in more than 100 venues, scattered around the Austin bars, clubs, parks, churches and elsewhere, hailing from more than 57 countries for 6 days of festival fun, March 17 to 22! 

Add to SXSW ™film and SXSW™ music, SXSW™ Interactive March 13-17, and you also had 5 days of cutting edge creativity, innovation, and inspiration, across new interactive media technologies.   

The SXSW™ Interactive Conference includes a five-day program of keynotes, panels and presentations, awards and showcasing of some of the most far out talent and inventions.   Among the awards, modeled  Wimbledon-style with rounds, finalists and alternatives: the SXSW™ Interactive Awards, the SXSW™ Dewey Winburne Community Service Awards (for do-gooders with tech), the SXSW™ Venture Accelerator Awards (to help uncover amazing new start-ups), the SXSW™ Gaming Awards and the Released at SXSW™  Awards.

Twenty-eight years after its inception in 1987, SXSW™ has become the single most economically profitable event in Austin, fetching 218 million USD in 2013.  And SWSX™ has also spread to other cities, inspiring other “four letter” venues at the intersection of technology and art (e.g. XOXO in Portland, OR; South by Due East in Houston, TX.; YXYY (yes and yes, yes) in Palm Springs, CA,  plus others.  [Wikipedia]

 This year, on March 13, among an audience of innovators at SXSW™, a special swearing-in ceremony was even held for Michelle K. Lee, the new Director of the USPTO and Under-Secretary of Commerce and Intellectual Property, since Jan 2013!
 More about some of the 2015 line-up at SXSW™ coming!

SXSW™ South by Southwest™ 2015
SXSW™ About SXSW™ Music
SXSW™  About SXSW ™Film
SXSW™ Interactive - Our story
SXSW™ About SXSW™ Interactive sessions
Wikipedia South by Southwest™

Sunday, March 8, 2015

International Women's Day 2015

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann 

This year... International Women’s Day calls for Action! The theme is “Make it happen!”

Below, the Make it Happen platform, extracted from the IWD hub:

-       For greater awareness of women’s equality
-    For more women in senior leadership roles
-    For equal recognition of women in the arts
-    For growth of women-owned businesses
-    For increased financial independence of women
-    For more women in science, technology and engineering
-    For fairer recognition of women in sport


At the UN, the International Women's Day 2015 theme is: Empowering women, empowering humanity: Picture it! 

Commemorating the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action adopted at the conclusion of the Fourth World Conference on Women, in 1995 , the UN is taking stock on 20 years passed since the agenda for women's rights was set in Beijing by 189 countries.

 In 2015, the UN call is to "Step it up!". Much has changed in 20 years, particularly in the areas of access to primary education, the reduction of some of the world's maternal mortality, access to more sanitation, and government endorsement of women's rights. But for Planet 50/50 to become a reality, before 2030, much more needs to be achieved.

Below, UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, calling for "Planet 50/50 by 2030"!

Happy International Women's Day to you all, and to all the women in your lives!

International Women's day  
UN International Women's Day 
UN - Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action - Beijing +5

Saturday, March 7, 2015

March 7, 2015 – Long live Charlie Hebdo!

Copyright © françoise Herrmann 

Copyright © Charlie Hebdo – Illustrator: Coco
“Charlie Hebdo’s new location under construction with ocean view”  
 [Translation mine]

Just as a reminder, on Jan 7, 2015, the Charlie Hebdo headquarters in Paris were targeted by two terrorists, who slaughtered a dozen people at gunpoint, including 7 of France’s best-selling and most beloved cartoonists and editorialists, gathered for a weekly Wednesday morning staff meeting, .

In France, two weeks later, 4 million people rose to condemn the attack, in the biggest march ever recorded, defiantly upholding: “I am Charlie” banners, which went viral world-wide.

On March 7, 2015, two months after the attack, Charlie Hebdo is alive and healing, courageously producing humor as ever, education, satire and insightful political opinions. Not a single issue was ever missed. Long Live Charlie Hebdo!

Patents on the soles of your shoes:

Jan 15, 2015 Long live Charlie Hebdo! !@#$%^&* terrorism

Jan 10, 2015 Long live Charlie Hebdo! !@#$%^&* terrorism

Jan 18, 2015 Long Live Charlie Hebdo ! March against terror on 01-11-2015

Friday, March 6, 2015

Oh, GoogleDoodle! Wavy noodles

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Yesterday's GoogleDoodle celebrated Momofuku Ando’s 105th birthday! Momofuku Ando invented instant ramen noodles in 1958!

The instant ramen invention and its method of production were disclosed in US3997676, titled Instant-cooking cupped noodles and a method of producing the same. This is the invention, marketed as Cup Noodles packaged in a polystyrene cup, where it takes a small bundle or nest of pre-cooked, flash-dried, noodles, just a couple of minutes to rehydrate with sprinkled seasonings, and flavors, into an instant meal! According to the World Instant Noodle Association, 100 billion units were sold in 2012! (Huffington Post) 

If you have ever tasted these noodles, you might have wondered why the instant ramen noodles are “wavy”. In this case, you might refer to US3932089, titled Apparatus for manufacturing waved noodles, also awarded to Momofuku Ando.  This patent discloses an invention designed to speed flash drying time of the noodles. Indeed, the waves comprising bulges and recesses apparently increase the ratio of surface to volume of the noodle, thus enabling moisture  to evaporate faster during drying.

The Abstract for US3932089, titled Apparatus for manufacturing waved noodles is included below with a figure drawing of the apparatus designed to produce the wavy noodles.

An apparatus for manufacturing waved noodles comprises a pair of oppositely rotating rollers, each roller having a surface formed with a plurality of spaced grooves, the transversely spaced grooves extending circumferentially around the roller, and the peripheral portions of the rollers between at least two adjacent of the grooves constituting lips. At least one of the lips on at least one roller has a face set back from the other roller and defining a linking space between the adjacent grooves. The grooves are radially wider (i.e. of greater cross section) than the linking space, and there is a means for passing a sheet of dough between the rollers whereby the dough is pressed into the grooves and linkage space, thereby forming a waved noodle having at least two generally parallel bulky portions connected by at least one transversely extending linking portion.  Abstract US3932089
In Japan, the Nissin Food Company that Momofuku Ando founded operates two museums, dedicated to its founder and his instant ramen inventions: the Cup Noodles Museum in Yokohama, and the Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum in Osaka!

CupNoodles Museum (Yokohama, Japan)
GoogleDoodle – March 5, 2015 – Momofuku Ando created by Sophie Diao
Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum (Osaka, Japan)
Huffington Post – Instant Noodle sales 2012

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Oh, patents! Vibram® FiveFingers®

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Here is an interesting shoe packaged in more than one contradiction of terms!Trademarked FiveFingers®, this shoe has a sole designed to provide the full range and feel of barefoot motion! 

Manufactured and marketed by Vibram®, the company that claims “We got sole since 1937”, FiveFingers® are purported to fit your feet like gloves! Many models are available for sports, including running, and casual footwear, both for kids and adults.

The patent US780586082 titled Footwear having independently articulable toe portions recites this toed shoe. The invention seeks to restore independent toe movement and the role this movement plays relative to whole body movement, balance, and haptic response to a ground surface -- assuming that toe function is restricted when it is encapsulated in the toe cap of conventional shoe designs. 

Indeed, in the prior art of conventional shoe designs, toes move as a single undifferentiated unit in the toe cap, and in a single pivoting movement relative to the ball of the foot.

The invention further seeks to provide both comfort and significant protection to independent toe movement in an effort to resolve some of the issues arising in the prior art of separate toe housing.  And finally, the invention seeks to increase haptic response to the surface of the ground by providing a thin sole that follows the natural curvature and shape of the foot, and that strikes the right balance between the thinness required of haptic response and foot protection. 

In terms of the foot protection, the invention recites two convexities (i.e.; pads) on the sole of the shoe: one in the forefoot area, and the other in the heel area. And the sole also includes toe pads for each individual toe.  The invention further specifies that the individual toe pads and convexities may be produced integrated with the sole, as thickened parts thereof, or as separate parts that are affixed to it 

Below, you will find the Abstract for US780586082 titled Footwear having independently articulable toe portions including two patent drawings; and above, images of one of the marketed toed soles  for the Vibram® FiveFingers KomodoSports® LS
A footwear is provided including a sole and an upper where the sole and the upper delimit individual toe portions configured to receive, retain, and allow independent articulation of corresponding individual toes of a foot inserted in the footwear and where the sole includes an extension portion which extends upwardly around at least a portion the foot. Abstract US780586082