Monday, October 10, 2016

Oh, patents! Tiggly utlity patent

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Back to Tiggly, the children’s AR (Augmented Reality) game that hinges between the virtual world narrative of an app and the real physical world of manipulatives, such as shapes or vowels objects.

So, how does Tiggly work? How are the physical manipulatives of the real world (the shapes and letters) detected by the computer, without the direct human contact required in capacitance-based screens?

The answers to these questions are essentially what the Tiggly  invention is all about. And, Tiggly  is an  invention disclosed in the Patent Application US20130302777 titled Systems and methods of object recognition within a simulation.

The Tiggly invention is disclosed as an interactive simulation tool with instructional purposes. Simulation is seen as a risk-free environment that lets the user perform tasks without the consequences occurring in real life. Thus, the patent discloses a simulation component capable of interacting with a user; means of detecting at least two points of contact between the real world object and the simulation device surface, and means to match the two points of contact with a predefined marking of the object to be identified. A processor coupled to a memory and a touch screen configured to execute the simulations are also part of the system.

The simulations are designed with means to detect an object on the screen surface and to determine compliance with the simulation rules and then to communicate the information. In turn, the information may prompt a similar object to appear on screen with cues coaching the user to comply more easily with the internal rules of the simulation. The simulation may also be equipped with a threshold for determining the degree of compliance, for lowering or increasing the difficulty of the compliance threshold.

The system also includes various strategically placed contact points on a capacitance-based screen for contact with the physical objects on screen, but not necessarily in contact with the user. Thus, the system includes various external physical objects which all have built-in means of being detected such as capacitative sensors, or materials that can alter the screen capacitance, even when there is no contact with the user. The processor connected to a memory and to the touch screen can also detect the manipulations of the objects on screen, as a function of the degree of compliance between the contact points of the object and the mapped points on screen.
Beyond the wonderful children’s game world experience that this invention affords, this patent is interesting in that the second paragraph indicates that a portion of the patent in copyrighted. This raises the issue of application software inventions, hinging on two different sorts of intellectual property law: copyright law and patent law. Indeed, programming code alone is not patentable as it is a set of written instructions that cannot satisfy all the conditions of patentability. Thus, programming code appears better protected by copyright law. However, written  code, is also executable writing, and therefore cannot be adequately protected by copyright law. either, since there is more than one way to execute a particular function. Thus the invention is patented as a simulation system that includes algorithms and all the supporting media enabling the execution of the program (i.e.; the processor, the memory, the touch screen and the tablet platform) in addition to the physical objects of the game, comprising capacitance sensors and /or screen capacitance-altering materials.

The abstract of US20130302777 is included below with Figure 24 of the patent showing the position of the capacitative sensors on the underside of the circle shape object. .

According to another embodiment, a system configured to execute at least one simulation is provided. The system includes a memory, a touch screen, at least one processor coupled to the memory and the touch screen, and a simulation component executed by the at least one processor. The simulation component is configured to detect a manipulation of at least one object disposed on the touch screen, determine a degree of compliance of the manipulation to rules of the at least one simulation, and communicate a characterization of the degree of compliance to an external entity.

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