Thursday, September 20, 2018

Oh, patents! 3D Systems ChefJet Pro

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Back to the future of food robotics!

The ChefJet Pro is manufactured by 3D Systems, the company founded by Chuck Hull, the inventor of stereolithography and rapid prototyping manufacturing, aka 3D printing. In contrast to 3D food printers that extrude viscous pastes, one layer at a time, which are then sometimes cooked, or alternatively scaffolded in place, the 3D Systems Chefjet Pro printer uses a fused deposition process of 3D printing, previously used only for 3D printing inedible and/or toxic materials, at very high furnace temperatures. 

3D printing using fused deposition invokes a process where powder is sequentially deposited in layers, each layer fused to the next, using a binder solution that is applied with an inkjet process. In contrast to 3D extrusion of pastes that tend to blend together, fused deposition thus enables the printing of delicate and intricate 3D objects, which can have complex geometries and interiors, printed images or text, both within the object and/or on the outside. The Chefjet Pro invention thus comprises both the mechanical and digital means for a 3D food production system that uses a fused deposition process to 3D print edible food objects, including the independent variation of color, flavor, and texture.

In practice, this means designing a 3D food object with invention CAD (Computer-Aided- Design) software. The design is then sent to the invention 3D printer, which converts the software instructions. The software instructions are converted into machine controls and tool commands for printing the fused powdered object, layer by layer. Sequential layering includes the mixing and addition, in real time, of RGB food coloring and/or flavors and scents, for every pixel. Thus,  intricate colored graphic designs can be incorporated into, and onto, the edible 3D printed object – for example, for spectacular wedding cake decorations!

The ChefJet Pro invention is recited in the recently filed patent application US2018160720, titled Apparatus and method for producing a three-dimensional food product. The abstract of this invention is included below, together with a 3D Systems YouTube video, showcasing the 3D printed sweet and savory treats.
A freeform fabrication system for the production of an edible three-dimensional food product from digital input data is disclosed. Food products are produced in a layer-bylayer manner without object-specific tooling or human intervention. Color, flavor, texture and/or other characteristics may be independently modulated throughout the food product.

3D systems runs a Culinary Laboratory in Los Angeles, in collaboration with The Culinary Institute of America, professional chefs, restaurateurs, local bakeries, and famous architects, such as Mei Lin -- each partner willing to experiment with the technology.

Watch out for the most dazzling edible 3D printed sculptures and constructions, if you have not already seen and tasted some!  

3D Systems
3D systems Culinary 3D printing
3D systems Culinary Gallery 
3D Systems Collaborations
The Culinary Institute of America

Friday, September 14, 2018

Oh, patents! BlaBlaCar™

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Do you blah, blah blah or blah blah blah? In other words, “How talkative are you when you commute with other folks? This intriguing user profile question gave the now famous ridesharing company, formerly called Comuto S.A, its trademarked name.  

BlaBlaCar™ is a long distance ridesharing company, founded in 2004, after one of its founders could not get home for xmas, considering that he could not get train tickets and did not own a car.  BlaBlaCar™ now operates in 22 European countries, connecting 18 million travelers every quarter, who are “going the same way” for an average 150 miles. The long-distance travel network, not only has 60 million subscribers, it has deliberately developed digital trust tools, using ratings, reviews, and verified user-profiles, to bring people together, who otherwise would never have met. 

The BaBlaCar™ mobile platform, supporting long-distance ridesharing, also seeks to offer more cost-efficient and enjoyable road travel, with less traffic and thus a decreased carbon footprint. The included small data chart shows the BlaBlaCar™ carbon footprint and its contribution to decreasing Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions.

The BlaBlaCar™ mobile ride-sharing platform and system are recited in two recent US patent applications:
  • US2018023967 (A1) - 2018-01-25 - Method and system for identifying meeting points
  • US2018172459 (A1) - 2018-06-21 - Method and system for determining detoured trips. 
The first patent application, US2018023967, recites the system and method for generating acceptable pick-up points on a given route. For example, a pick-up point at the local train station, or at a particular neighborhood school, computed to minimize the detours on any given route with several stops, that are acceptable to the driver and workable for potential passengers. The abstract is included below: 
A method of and a system for processing a ridesharing request. The method comprising receiving instructions to create a trip in the ridesharing platform; generating an original route by causing to compute an original polyline defining the original route; accessing a set of meeting points; determining from the set of meeting points, candidate meeting points which are within a distance from the original polyline; generating for each one of the candidate meeting points, a detour route by causing to compute a detour polyline defining the detour route; identifying selected candidate meeting points from the candidate meeting points; and storing the selected candidate meeting points, the selected can didate meeting points being associated with the trip.
[Abstract US2018023967] 
The second patent application, US2018172459, recites the system and method for increasing matches between the trips that drivers publish and offer, and the trips that passengers are seeking. The invention consists in the method and system of computing detours that are acceptable to the drivers, in some instances based on the rideshare requests. The abstract of the patent is included below.
A system for and a method of determining that a detoured trip is to be presented to a potential passenger. The method comprises receiving a rideshare request; generating a rideshare request parameter; and accessing, from a database, trip filtering parameters associated with trips. The method further comprises determining that at least one of the trips is a candidate for which a detour route is to be computed based on an analysis of the rideshare request parameter and a corresponding trip filtering parameter associated with the at least one of the trips; causing to compute, for the at least one of the trips determined as being the candidate for which the detour route is to be computed, a detoured trip; and determining that the detoured trip is to be presented to the potential passenger by analyzing the deviation value of the detoured trip and the deviation threshold. [Abstract US2018172459]

Shaheen, S. (March 23, 2017) BlaBlaCar and the rise of carpooling in France. Move Forward. Moovel Group.
Shaheen, S., Stocker A and M. Mundler  (July 2016) Online and app-based carpooling in France: Analyzing users and practices – A study of BlaBlaCar.  BlaBlaCar White paper

Thursday, September 13, 2018

In print! Patents on the Soles of Your Shoes (Volume 1, 2013)

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Available at

List price : $28.00
6" x 9" (15.24 x 22.86 cm)
136 pages, Full color
ISBN-13: 978-1542406741
ISBN-10: 1542406749 
BISAC: Reference / General

The first volume of Patents on the Soles of Your Shoes is a book intended for readers who are seriously interested in inventions and the documents that drive them. From Nike Inc., sole systems with on-board biometric sensors and peek-a-boo windows, to Sanuk® “hoodies” for your feet, via Geox Amphibiox "holey" shoes and Asics® gel soles, this reference book is all about patents on the soles of your shoes -- and elsewhere. Patents elsewhere, driving the science of your mascara and the electronic engineering of your razors. Patents opening up unimaginable possibilities, such as spray-on fabric, bioprinted tissues and organs, or 3D printed dwellings, using a robotic arm to pour cement from a gantry. Patents also steeped in controversies, such as man-made animal models and transgenic technology.   
Approximately 75 patents are cited in this volume, together with abstracts, and  square QR Codes connecting print to the source texts. These links provide readers with an AR (Augmented Reality) experience, offering access to the book’s source of connected information, such as complete patent versions and the various members of patent families, videos and articles.   
In 2018, the blog that informed this book, is still humming, capturing inventions this year, and each year since 2013, as well as some of the long history that has preceded, or the current events that surround them.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Oh, patents! Oh, Foodini!

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Ready to tap into a databank of food prints? Ready to print your own chocolate letters, and dinosaur spinach quiche? If you are, then you are ready for Foodini, the 3D food printer, manufactured by Natural Machines

For savory or sweet prints, Foodini offers a way of 3D printing freshly prepared ingredients, into mouth-watering, artistic, and impressive-looking designer food prints. The video included below shows designer Foodini printed dinosaur spinach quiche. 

The Natural Machines Inc., 3D food printer invention is recited in the following 13-member patent family:
  • WO2014190168A1 - Manufacturing food using 3D printing technology
  • AU2014268446 (A1) - Manufacturing food using 3D printing technology
  • BR112015028981 (A2) - Manufacturing food using 3D printing technology 
  • CA2913013 (A1) - Apparatus, method and system for manufacturing food using additive manufacturing 3D printing technology 
  • CN105407746 (A) - Manufacturing food using 3D printing technology
  • EP3074206 (A1) - Manufacturing food using 3D printing technology
  • HK1221876 (A1) - Manufacturing food using 3D printing technology 3D
  • JP2016525885 (A) - Manufacturing food using 3D printing technology
  • KR20160009067 (A) - Manufacturing food using 3D printing technology
  • MX2015015889 (A) - Manufacturing food using 3D printing technology 
  • RU2015151458 (A) - Manufacturing food using 3D printing technology
  • SG11201509519X (A) - Manufacturing food using 3D printing technology
  • US2016135493 (A1) - Apparatus, method and system for manufacturing food using additive manufacturing 3D printing technology

Since the prior art of melting modules for plastic, in 3D printed manufacturing, is ill-suited for the extensive palette of edible ingredients, the Natural Machines Inc., invention comprises automated means of heating food capsules according to an inventive algorithm that takes into account various parameters such as the specific contents of the capsule, the temperature of the ingredients and the speed of heating required. The invention also comprises automated means of selecting several food capsules from their stations, and changing the capsules, using an inventive fetch (and return) tool that is connected to a telescopic extrusion arm. Finally, the invention also includes processing, information storage, and controlling means, so that the machines might be used without human intervention.

The US patent abstract for this invention is included below, together with the patent  Figure 7A. Figure 7A shows a blueprint drawing of the fetch tool, returning a food capsule to an empty food capsule station, after extrusion in the additive manufacturing (AM) process. The tool will then be ready to fetch another capsule, that will, in turn, be used for extruding another additive layer of ingredients in the 3D food printing process.
A 3D printer system that uses the AM method to print a product using a plurality of materials, each of which is contained in a respective capsule. The capsules are removably inserted into respective capsule holders, each of which includes a heating device for adjusting the temperature of the material, and is releasably held in one of a plurality of stations. A tool fetches individual capsules from and deposits them to their stations, and holds individual capsules for printing the product using a telescopic extrusion apparatus. A memory stores capsule-identifying data, a processor provides position coordinates for positioning of the tool, and a controller moves the tool to the position coordinates. The capsule holders include heating systems for controlling the rheological behavior of the materials based on algoritlmls executed by the processor.  [Abstract US2016135493] 
Natural Machines

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Food Ink™ - World's first 3D printing restaurant

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

The restaurant Food Ink, in London (UK,) lies at the intersection of 3D printing, art, and haute cuisine.  You will never recognize your guacamole, once Food Ink has printed it!  Take a peek at the stunning, mouth-watering design, and imagine what your breakfast waffles might look like!

Food Ink in London (UK) 3D prints everything -- the restaurant’s furniture, utensils, and the food.  Whether Food Ink is operating at home in London (UK), or popping up for a print-out at an international venue outside of the UK, Food Ink offers a futuristic, exploratory and multisensory 3D experience. Specifically, a Food Ink experience includes 3D printed food, right before your eyes; 3D Virtual Reality (VR) headsets for use in a projected VR environment; guests seated on 3D printed furniture, consuming their 3D printed meal with 3D printed utensils. The whole experience is brought to you by an international team of collaborating entrepreneurs, chefs, architects, and designers.

Aligned with SciFi author and engineer Sir Arthur C. Clarke, Food Ink believes that: "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

The following YouTube video showcases magic at the Food Ink opening night, in London (UK).

Food Ink prints food at the table with Focus AM (Additive Manufacturing) 3D food printers, designed by the Dutch company byFlow. Additive manufacturing refers to the layering process used in 3D printing, vs. subtractive manufacturing where products are cut out of a larger block of material. Thus, one of the side benefits of 3D printed food, beyond the beautifully designed recipes, is that it also prevents waste, especially when top quality and otherwise visually unappealing food can be extruded.

Food Ink Restaurant
Food Ink London
Arthur C. Clarke

Friday, August 31, 2018

Oh, patents! 3D printed pizza

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

How do you feed astronauts for five years, the approximate time it takes to travel to planet Mars, and back to earth?

This is the kind of problem that NASA strives to address with 3D printed food. 3D printed food is regularly prepared food that is dehydrated, and subsequently rehydrated into a paste. The paste is then used as ink for 3D printing food. 

Nothing tastier than 3D printed gummy bears and pizza in outer space! 

Tasty down on earth also…. This is the case for the NASA-funded research at Beehex, Inc., where CEO Anjan Contractor has recycled his space 3D printing technology into a 3D food printer that extrudes pizza dough, tomato sauce, and cheese, to print pizza --on earth, for commercial purposes.

Nozzles of different sizes extrude different amounts of molten food ink under pressurized air. The food prepared with 3D printers is prepared very fast – 3 minutes to extrude, 6 minutes to cook. The process is “cleaner, quicker, more efficient and consistent…”  than non-printed food. Finally, the food is customizable in ways previously unparalleled. It can be printed in any shape, using any number of customizable ingredient pastes.  

The various components of the Beehex Inc., food printer invention are recited in three recently filed US patent applications:
This patent discloses the essential components of a 3D printer that can extrude various viscous materials, including edible materials like melted chocolate -- without dripping from the nozzles. The 3D printer comprises a printer cartridge, an extruder, multiple rods and screws designed to guide the extrusion of materials, and a control system designed to control both the extruder and the pneumatic (air compressor) system.
  • US20180020683A1 - 3D-print system with integrated cnc robot and automatic self-cleaning mechanism
This patent addresses the issue of customizing pizza printing according to dietary health and safety constraints (e.g.; printing gluten-free crusts), and more specifically the issue of cleaning without leaving traces of micro-organisms, such as allergens or bacteria, which could contaminate food preparation. In the prior art of food systems, parts coming in contact with food are all disposable, but this is very expensive. The invention thus consists in providing a permanent and automated means of cleaning the 3D food printer, in view of preventing the formation of biofilms, and removing food residues in the tubing and on the nozzles, in a cost-effective manner.
  • US20180042245A1 - System, apparatus and method for customizing and generating a 3D printed food
This patent specifically discloses the customization of pizza printing shapes and ingredients, including means for mobile communication with the 3D pizza printer. The mobile communication means enable users to send the specifics of their orders to the 3D pizza printer.
Figure 1B of the Beehex 3D food printer, extracted from the patent US20170259482A1, is included below, together with an image of the marketed Beehex 3D food printer.

Beehex Inc. 

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Oh, patents! Spyce’s robotic kitchen

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann 

Healthy, gourmet-quality, fast food?

Yes,  a selection of vegetarian/pescatarian, gluten-free, vegan and regular bowls, prepared fresh à la carte in three minutes or less, at Spyce’s robotic kitchen, a Boston restaurant founded by four MIT graduates. Four water-polo playing “robotics-obsessed mechanical engineers” who built the prototype of the Spyce kitchen in the basement of their fraternity house, fueled by the dream of tempting meals, served fresh daily by a robot!

At Spyce, “at the intersection of technology and hospitality”, customers select a bowl and its customization from a touchscreen menu, coaching appropriate pairings. Ingredients are then dispensed from a hopper, into a wok, where they are sauté(tumbled and seared), and then tipped into a bowl. The bowl is then pleasantly garnished by a human employee, for an affordable sum of $7.50. After delivering a bowl, the wok is automatically sanitized clean, ready to receive the ingredients of the next order.

Spyce bowls not only contain fresh-sourced ingredients, elevated by robotics, the whole process is supervised by the finest chefs. Indeed, Chef Daniel Boulud is Spyce’s Culinary Director and Investor.  Likewise, Chef Sam Benson, Spyce’s  Executive Chef,  trained at the flagship Café Boulud, the award-winning, Michelin-starred, fine-dining restaurant, with locations in Boston, NY,  Washington DC, Palm Beach, Miami, Toronto, Montréal, London, and Singapore!
Spyce's robotic kitchen
Spyce’s robotic kitchen is disclosed in the US patent application US20170172350A1, titled Automated meal production system and apparatus. The patent recites an apparatus and automated system designed to prepare up to 300 meals per day, without human intervention. The system requires human servicing and refilling of the apparatus only once every 24 hours. The automated system comprises ingredient-holding and dispensing assemblies, including precise measuring means, and separate modules for liquids such as oil, sauces, and creams; preparation assemblies including rotating and gimbaling means, for receiving, mixing and pouring the ingredients; and convection elements for each of the preparation assemblies, designed to heat the ingredients.  Automated transfer assemblies ensure that the right ingredients from the holding and dispensing assemblies find their way to the right preparation assemblies. The preparation assemblies are also each preferably lined with Teflon, and comprise an interior fin to facilitate mixing when the assembly rotates. The apparatus is controlled by a computer program, receiving input from the touchscreen terminals, mobile apps, or a more central system. The system also comprises weight and heat sensors to ensure consistent and safe cooking.

The abstract of the patent is included below, together with Figure 12, showing the robotic kitchen with the ingredient-holding and dispensing assemblies (204), and different positions of the gimbaled preparation assemblies (100), below the holding and dispensing assemblies (204). A picture of the actual Spyce restaurant robotic kitchen is included above, also showing the hoppers and the open face woks beneath, so that customers can see how the meals are cooked and prepared, without human intervention.

An automated kitchen system having multiple cooking and/ or mixing pots and having containers and dispensers for multiple ingredients. A customer or other person or system selects or creates a meal or other food product and the ingredients for the meal or other product are transferred from dispensers to the cooking and/or mixing pots which simultaneously cook and/or mix the ingredients. After cooking, the meal or other product is served and the cooking pot is cleaned and sanitized and oriented to receive the ingredients for the next meal or other product [Abstract US20170172350A1]
Spyce - Culinary excellence elevated by technology 
Spyce bowl menu
Chef Daniel Boulud
Michelin Guide 

Friday, August 24, 2018

Oh, patents! Chowbotics salad robot

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

 Her name is Sally. Sally is the Chowbotics salad-making robot!

Using a 3 x 3 footprint, Sally the Salad robot allows users to select their salad ingredients, or pre-designed salads on a touchscreen menu, prepares the user’s salad using the freshest seasonal ingredients -- previously selected and loaded into the robot’s canisters by Chef Charlie Ayers-- and dispenses the user’s salad in a bowl, at work or anywhere else where the robotic vending machine has been installed and the program implemented.

The dispensing technology is recited in the US patent application  US2017172351,  titled  Automated food making apparatus, an invention that seeks to minimize human intervention in the preparation of food, while retaining the known health benefits of a balanced and nutritious diet. 

The patent recites a carousel with a plurality of canisters, equipped with an ingredient-dispensing paddle, and the robotic mechanism designed to rotate the ingredient-dispensing paddle. The canisters are designed to dispense liquid or solid ingredients. They are also equipped with inventive sealing means, temperature control means, and inventive clips for securing and releasing them, to and from the carousel.

The abstract for Sally the Salad robot invention is included below, together with the patent figure drawing, Fig 27, showing the salad dispensing canisters with their paddle, and the mechanisms actuating the paddles. The close-up image of the marketed product shows the green dispensing paddle within two canisters filled with salad ingredients.

An automated food making apparatus is described. An automated food making apparatus can include: a carousel; a dispensing apparatus shared among a plurality of canisters on the carousel, wherein at least one canister includes a paddle; and wherein the dispensing apparatus is configured to rotate the canister's paddle to dispense ingredients stored in the canister. A dispensing mechanism for an automated food making apparatus can include: an actuator arm; a motor that is adapted to rotate the actuator arm; one or more magnets embedded in the actuator arm; and one or more sensors configured to detect position of the actuator arm; wherein the actuator arm dispenses ingredients by rotating a pin located on a canister. [Abstract US2017172351]

Chef Charlie Ayers
Chowbotics - Robots for food service

Sunday, August 19, 2018

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)*

Copyrights © Françoise Herrmann

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), is the single most widely translated document. It has been translated into 500 languages. -- including such languages as Nahuatl, Tzotzil,  Maori and Hausa.

Adopted by the United Nations Assembly on Dec. 10, 1948, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) outlines  30 basic human rights. For example, Article 26 reads as follows:

In English
1. Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit. 2. Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace. 3. Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.
En français
1. Toute personne a droit à l'éducation. L'éducation doit être gratuite, au moins en ce qui concerne l'enseignement élémentaire et fondamental. L'enseignement élémentaire est obligatoire. L'enseignement technique et professionnel doit être généralisé; l'accès aux études supérieures doit être ouvert en pleine égalité à tous en fonction de leur mérite. 2. L'éducation doit viser au plein épanouissement de la personnalité humaine et au renforcement du respect des droits de l'homme et des libertés fondamentales. Elle doit favoriser la compréhension, la tolérance et l'amitié entre toutes les nations et tous les groupes raciaux ou religieux, ainsi que le développement des activités des Nations Unies pour le maintien de la paix. 3. Les parents ont, par priorité, le droit de choisir le genre d'éducation à donner à leurs enfants.
En español 
1. Toda persona tiene derecho a la educación. La educación debe ser gratuita, al menos en lo concerniente a la instrucción elemental y fundamental. La instrucción elemental será obligatoria. La instrucción técnica y profesional habrá de ser generalizada; el acceso a los estudios superiores será igual para todos, en función de los méritos respectivos. 2. La educación tendrá por objeto el pleno desarrollo de la personalidad humana y el fortalecimiento del respeto a los derechos humanos y a las libertades fundamentales; favorecerá la comprensión, la tolerancia y la amistad entre todas las naciones y todos los grupos étnicos o religiosos; y promoverá el desarrollo de las actividades de las Naciones Unidas para el mantenimiento de la paz. 3. Los padres tendrán derecho preferente a escoger el tipo de educación que habrá de darse a sus hijos.
Check out the 500 languages here. Choose an article and record yourself reading for the Database of voices reading the UDHR. To date (Aug 19, 2018)  1391 videos have been uploaded, in 76 languages, from 144 countries. 

Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)
Translated into 500languagess
Add your voice, in your language and share the video
Universal Declaration of Human Rights (French)
Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Spanish)
Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Nahuatl)
Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Maori)
Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Tzotzil)
Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Hausa)

*In commemoration of World Humanitarian Day (Aug, 19, 2018 )