Friday, March 16, 2018

Oh, patents! Stefanka interactive fitting room

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Elizabeth Stefanka’s 3D fitting booths are hot in Montreal, Canada. These hi-tech fitting rooms, which look a bit like photo booths, target the retail apparel industry. The equipped booths scan your torso in 360 degrees as you swivel around on the stool inside the booth, analyze the captured volumetric 3D data, and return suggestions for purchase, including size, location and information about the items.

For women, the first hi-tech Stefanka fitting partnership was for bras, with Montreal lingerie stores, called La vie en rose. For men, the fitting was for shirts. Presto, pronto! No more searching blindly online without trying on, and no more trekking from one store to another to try everything on. Stefanka technology is currently installed in bricks-and-mortar booths. However, this technology is also envisioned to potentially operate online, using the computer’s camera.

Recognition and analysis of acquired volumetric body data is an invention, patented in the Canadian patent CA2946006, titled Method for dimensioning a region of interest of a person's body.  The invention specifically addresses the issue of standardization in apparel sizing, and the generally confusing size-to-fit inconsistencies. The abstract of the invention is included below, together with a 3D scanned image of a torso above.  
 A method for dimensioning a region of interest on a person's body is provided. The method includes the steps of receiving a model representing at least a portion of a person's body comprising the region of interest, segmenting the model to isolate the region of interest, by detecting a curvature in a surface of the model that satisfies a curvature condition, the surface corresponding to a curved surface of the model, and determining a volume of the region of interest, by calculating a summation of volumes between a focal point of the region of interest and the curved surface. The method can notably be useful for determining the dimensions of a bust area. [Abstract CA2946006]
La vie en rose

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Oh, patents! Microsoft No Hands Music Program

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

The Microsoft Hands-Free Music Program is a participatory design project intended to extend access to music performance and composition, to musicians stricken with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also called Lou Gehrig’s or Charcot’s disease), spinal chord injuries or other sorts of paralysis conditions. Thus, the project has developed a suite of three eye-controlled applications called The Microsoft Hands Free (Red-Eye) Sound Studio. These applications require no mouse, no keyboard, or other touchscreen interaction, to operate.

The Microsoft Hands Free (Red Eye) Sound Studio Suite includes: Hands-free Sound Jam, Hands-free Sound Machine, and Hands-free Expressive Pixels.
  • Hands-Free Sound Jam is an electronic eye-controlled music environment for loop-based music performance and composition. The program offers a “clip launcher”, small musical fragments that can be edited or written, and then strung or looped together into a composition.  
  • Hands-Free Sound Machine is a 16-step sound sequencer that supports the output of musical compositions to musical instruments, and stage effects.
  • Hands-Free Expressive pixels enables authoring and rendering of static and animated LED matrix displays. Used together with Sound Machine, Expressive Pixels augments the musical composition output with visual effects. 

Hands-free selection of virtual objects, or the use of eye control to interact with the computer, is an AR (Augmented Reality) invention disclosed in US9201578, titled Gaze swipe selection.  The system comprises a connected head-mounted display device (HMD), such as a pair of glasses, equipped to track eye or gaze movements, for example using two or more infrared position sensitive detectors (IR PSD) to track glint position. The eye tracking information is then processed and translated into visual pointer information that has an impact on the virtual objects of the software. 

The abstract of this invention is included below, together with the patent drawing 3A, showing an embodiment of a portion of the HMD (Head Mounted Device) that detects user eye movements.
Methods for enabling hands-free selection of virtual objects are described. In some embodiments, a gaze swipe gesture may be used to select a virtual object. The gaze swipe gesture may involve an end user of a head-mounted display device (HMD) performing head movements that are tracked by the HMD to detect whether a virtual pointer controlled by the end user has swiped across two or more edges of the virtual object. In some cases, the gaze swipe gesture may comprise the end user using their head movements to move the virtual pointer through two edges of the virtual object while the end user gazes at the virtual object. In response to detecting the gaze swipe gesture, the HMD may determine a second virtual object to be displayed on the HMD based on a speed of the gaze swipe gesture and a size of the virtual object.[Abstract US9201578]

Microsoft Hands-Free Music
Microsoft Hands-Free Sound Machine
Microsoft Hands-Free Sound Jam
Microsoft Hands-Free Expressive Pixels

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Stephen W. Hawking - Jan 2, 1942 - March 14, 2018

Hawking, S. W. (1988) A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black HolesNY, NY: Bantam Books.
Hawking, S.W. (1994) Black Holes, Baby Universes and Other EssaysNY: NY: Bantam Books.
Hawking, S. W. (1996) The Illustrated A Brief History of TimeNY, NY: Bantam Books.
Hawking, S. W. (2001) The Universe in a NutshellNY, NY: Bantam Books.
Hawking, S.W. (2007) GOD created the Integers: The Mathematical Breakthroughs that Changed HistoryNY, NY: Bantam Books.
Hawking, S.W. & L. Hawking (2009) George's Secret Key to the Universe. NY, NY: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.
Hawking, S.W. & L. Hawking (2011) George's Cosmic Treasure HuntNY, NY: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. 
Hawking, S.W. & L. Hawking (2013) George's Big BangNY, NY: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.
Hawking, S. W. & L. Hawking (2017) George and the Unbreakable CodeNY, NY: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers 
Hawking, WS. W. & L. Hawking (2017) George and the Blue MoonNY, NY: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.
Hawking, S. W. & L. Mlodinow (2012) The Grand Design. NY, NY: Bantam Books.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

International Woman's Day 2018

Copyright Françoise Herrmann

In 2018, Mattel®’s Barbie®, America’s best-selling doll, since 1959, is really trying hard to befriend parents and to win feminist endorsement. Sixty years after Ruth Handler invented Barbie® dolls, realizing that little girls fantasized about being big girls not only mommies, and therefore might also play with fashionably dressed grown-up dolls, in addition to baby dolls, Mattel®’s 150 grown-up Barbie® dolls have also become more inclusive and diversified. On International Woman’s Day, Mattel®'s Barbie® has also become a global inspiration for little girls.

Gone the era of Caucasian Barbie®, Ken®, and Skipper®, in blonde or brunette, with a single physical appearance that made feminists raise their voices. Barbie® is inhuman, saintly, unachievable and disproportioned Barbie® now has different body types (tall, short, thin or full-bodied), with 7 skin types, 22 eye colors and 24 hairstyles. She is Asian, Black American, African, Latina, Indian, and Caucasian. Most importantly, aligned with Ruth Handler's original insights while factoring in the advancement of women, Barbie® now has a career, in addition to Ken®, a kid sister, and a fabulous wardrobe. Now, Barbie® (and Ken®), offer more depth of character, and a wider set of options, making it perhaps unambiguously easier for little girls to identify, to dream and to play.  

Mattel®’s latest campaign “You can be anything!” aims to please feminists, while inspiring little girls to also fulfill their potential in a career of their choice, to become filmmakers, vets, scientists, astronauts, professors, coaches, musicians, army officers, construction workers, athletic champions, plus more.

On International Woman’s Day, Mattel® has also released more global women sheroes in the new line of Barbie® sheroes, comprising modern-day role models and historical sheroes. A list of Barbie®sheroes is hyperlinked below.
Just a few of the Barbie® sheroes

Happy International Woman's Day to all!

Barbie® – Mattel®
Mattel® (March 6, 2018) Barbie® honors global role models on International Woman's Day 

Mattel - Barbie® role models

Atler, C. (Feb. 5, 2014) In defense of Barbie®: She might be the most feminist doll around – Time Magazine
Bouton, D. (Oct. 26, 2015) Barbie® is now doing feminism- but not every one of convinced. Barbie®’s battles with feminism aren’t over yet. The Independent

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Oh, patents! Radius Displays Coca-Cola® 3D billboard

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Has anyone seen the fascinating new Coca-Cola® 3D billboard in New York city's Times Square? Designed, fabricated and installed by Radius Displays, the Coca-Cola® 3D robotic display is the biggest 3D robotic display in the world A Radius Displays video of the formidable Coca Cola® billboard is included below.

The undulating wall effect of the display is a patented invention, recited in US2016133203 (A1), titled Display devices. The billboard comprises actuator assemblies with individually controllable LED screens. The assemblies, coupled with programmable modules for light and movement can move from a retracted state to a plurality of extended states (see the below patent drawing).

The abstract of the patent is included below, together with a patent drawing showing the retracting and extending assemblies of the display.
A display device includes an  base structure, a plurality of modules coupled to the base structure, where each of the modules include a plurality of actuator assemblies. Each of the actuator assemblies is individually controllable to move the actuator assemblies between a retracted state and a plurality of extended states. A controller is coupled to each of the modules and is programmed to control the actuator assemblies to move the actuator assemblies between the retracted state and the plurality of extended states.
Stay tuned! The Coca-Cola® 3D robotic billboard is a finalist for an Interactive Innovation Award at SXSW® ,2018 (South by South West ) Festival and Conferences, March 9 to 18, 2018.

Radius Display
SXSW® 2018

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Oh, patents! Dior Split-1 aviator sunglasses

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Oh, là là! 

How about a dazzling pair of Dior Split 1 summer aviator spectacles!  These sunglasses have metal insets on each side of the mirrored lenses which gives them a striped appearance.

This Christian Dior design is the recipient of US design patent USD798372. 
As a reminder: 
“a utility patent” protects the way an article is used and works (35 U.S.C. 101), while a “design patent” protects the way an article looks (35 U.S.C. 171) [MPEP Chapt. 1502.01; [R-07.2015]] 
A patent drawing is included below, together with an image of the marketed Dior Split 1 aviator sunglasses, in turquoise and silver.


Monday, February 26, 2018

Oh, Patents! Digimarc® barcodes (3)

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Digimarc® barcodes offer an AR (Augmented Reality) shopping experience. As a reminder, in AR the user brings together the real world and the virtual 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, when reading the Digimarc® barcode of supermarket products, the user is able to bring to the shelf products vast amounts of data stored in databases about the product, and how to use it. The Digimarc® barcode is a bit like QR Codes, which multiply the amount of coded information about a product, including the possibility of connecting you to the Internet, only the Digimarc® barcode is also invisible, or at least hardly perceptible to the naked eye.

The invisibility of this invention invokes the 700-year-old steganographic (occultist) idea of hiding text within texts, which Digimarc® inventors now call the payload of hidden data concealed in an image. Recited in almost 2000 patents, Digimarc® processes map the invisible with a host of mathematical transform theories, applied to computer science.

The two latest Digimarc® patent applications US20180047126 and US20180047127, both titled Signal encoding for difficult environments and published on Feb. 15, 2018, disclose the selection of inks for the design of a package, and how to encode them with payload information, so that this information may be remotely decoded using principles based on spectral reflectance.

The abstract for US 20180047127 is included below :

This disclosure relates to advanced image signal processing technology including encoded signals and digital watermarking. We disclose methods, systems and apparatus for selecting which ink(s) should be selected to carry an encoded signal for a given machine-vision wavelength for a retail package or other printed design. We also disclose retail product packages and other printed objects, and methods to generate such, including a sparse mark in a first ink and an overprinted ink flood in a second ink. The first ink and the second ink are related through tack and spectral reflectance difference. Of course, other methods, packages, objects, systems and apparatus are described in this disclosure.


Thursday, February 22, 2018

Oh, patents! Digimarc® steganography (2)

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Steganographia circa 1500
The term steganography [stegano + graphy] has a Greek root steganos, meaning covered or concealed, and the suffix graph, meaning writing or graphic. 

The oldest record of the term steganography, per the OED, dates back to a book of magic and occult writing, in three volumes, titled Steganographia, written by a German Benedictine Abbot, called Johannes Trithemius, circa the year 1500.

To date, the term steganography refers to the process of hiding secret messages within a text. Recall the very recent (2017) example of UC Berkeley Professor Daniel M. Kammen’s letter of resignation, as US State Department Science Envoy, following US withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement, and in the aftermath of the White Supremacist rallies in Charlottesville, VA. The letter, addressed to the POTUS 2018, concealed the secret message IMPEACH, when reading the first letter of each of the letter’s seven paragraphs, (Wang, A., The Washington Post, Aug. 23, 2017).

Considering the 15th-century origins of the term steganography, Digimarc® watermarking technology has deep roots. When Digimarc® technology imperceptibly alters an image, for example every 100th pixel, and provides means to detect and read the distortion introduced in the text or media material, it is also concealing a secret code or message within a text. Whether this is a print, audio or visual watermarking, digital stenographic processes might be invoked for copyright purposes, identification, authentication, security, or to prevent the leakage of sensitive information and the proliferation of counterfeits, especially banknotes and ID cards or passports.

Indeed, several of the Digimarc® patents actually use the term steganographic processes. The following then, is a very small hyperlinked subset of some of the early (even expired) Digimarc® steganographic patents, considering that 1,815 (one-thousand-eight-hundred-and-fifteen) patents are returned for Digimarc® technologies when searching patent registries, 600 of which currently cover digital watermarking. 
  • USRE40919E1 - Methods for surveying dissemination of proprietary empirical data (Re-issued patent)
  • US4879747A - Method and system for personal identification
  • US4995081A - Method and system for personal identification using proofs of legitimacy
  • US5636292A - Steganography methods employing embedded calibration data
  • US5710834A - Method and apparatus responsive to a code signal conveyed through a graphic image
  • US5832119A - Methods for controlling systems using control signals embedded in empirical data
  • US5841886A - Security system for photographic identification
  • US5850481A - Steganographic system
  • US5862260A - Methods for surveying dissemination of proprietary empirical data
  • US6111954A - Steganographic methods and media for photography
  • US6266430B1 - Audio or video steganography
  • US6301369B2- Image marking to permit later identification
  • US6324573B1 - Linking of computers using information steganographically embedded in data objects
  • US6408082B1 - Watermark detection using a Fourier Mellin transform
  • US6408331B1- Computer linking methods using encoded graphics
  • US6411725B1 - Watermark enabled video objects
  • US6421070B1 - Smart images and image bookmarking for an internet browser
  • US6535617B1 - Removal of fixed pattern noise and other fixed patterns from media signals
  • US6535618B1 - Image capture device with steganographic data embedding
  • US6546112B1 - Security document with steganographically-encoded authentication data
  • US6636615B1 - Methods and systems using multiple watermarks
  • US6650761B1 – Watermarked business cards and method
  • US6681028B2 - Paper-based control of computer systems
  • US6718047B2 - Watermark embedder and reader
  • US6763123B2 - Detection of out-of-phase low visibility watermarks
  • US6813366B1 - Steganographic decoding with transform to spatial domain
  • US6869023B2 - Linking documents through digital watermarking
  • US6879701B1 - Tile-based digital watermarking techniques
  • US6944298B1 - Steganographic encoding and decoding of auxiliary codes in media signals
  • US6970573B2 - Self-validating security documents utilizing watermarks
  • US6993152B2 - Hiding geo-location data through arrangement of objects
  • US7076084B2 - Methods and objects employing machine readable data
  • US7113596B2 - Embedding information related to a subject of an identification document in the identification document
  • US7130087B2 - Methods and apparatus to produce security documents
  • US7152786B2 - Identification document including embedded data
  • US7171020B2 - Method for utilizing fragile watermark for enhanced security
  • US7191156B1 - Digital watermarking systems
  • US7308110B2 - Methods for marking image
  • US7314162B2 - Method and system for reporting identity document usage
  • US7415129B2 - Providing reports associated with video and audio content
  • US7444000B2 - Content identification, and securing media content with steganographic encoding
  • US7461136B2-  Internet linking from audio and image content
  • US7548643B2 - Methods, objects and apparatus employing machine readable data
  • US7567686B2 - Hiding and detecting messages in media signals
  • US7724919B2 - Methods and systems for steganographic processing
  • US7770013B2 - Digital authentication with digital and analog documents
  • US7778437B2 - Media and methods employing steganographic marking
  • US8301893B2 - Detecting media areas likely of hosting watermarks
Milano, D. Content control: Digital watermarking and fingerprinting
Wang, A. (Aug. 23, 2017) Trump’s science envoy quits in scathing letter with an embedded code: IMPEACH

Wikipedia - Johannes Trithemius

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Oh, patents! Digimarc® barcodes (1)

Copyright©Françoise Herrmann

You probably take the self-checkout lane at the supermarket, and scan the barcodes on your products yourself. You probably also miss the barcode information a few times, swiping your product at different angles, until it pings, and actually displays on the cash register.  So you know what a barcode looks like, and where to find it. Right?

Now, imagine all your favorite products, without a visible barcode, that you can now scan at any angle, and from anywhere on the packaging. It will take you much less time to check out, since you will never miss a scan, and there will be more space on the packaging for artwork or un-interrupted design. Right?  

Yes, that is exactly what Digimarc® barcodes allow you to do. What you see is no longer what you get, because the product barcode is now copied, and imperceptibly encoded into the design of the package, actually everywhere on the packaging, using a digital watermarking  invention.

The image below shows you exactly what you see, and what any barcode scanner sees, when the products is digimarc-ed.

If you think that all this invisible information is something amazing, or a bit far out... in AR (Augmented Reality), then watch the video included below… because the Digimarc® , developed by the Oregon-based public company Digimarc Corporation, is The Barcode of Everything®.

Using Digimarc® patented watermark technology, everything can be watermarked with data that is invisible to the naked eye, and yet perfectly readable, even audible, and scannable with just a mobile device equipped with the free Digimarc® Discovery app. Everything with a surface, such as print, images and vidoes can be digimarked, not only with product information, but with connected information, like QR Codes, and even interactive information using NFC (Near Field Communication) to tell you about the product's current state.

Indeed, no end to how this digital watermarking technology can be used (for inventory, security, identification, authentication), or what gets watermarked. This is a whole new level of communication in AR (Augmented Reality) !


Sunday, February 18, 2018

Oh, patents! Sephora® Pantone® Color IQ

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Gals, do you find it hard to figure out exactly what color lipstick really, really suits you? Do you know what color foundation you might wear that is just perfect, not too dark and not to light? 

No more worries! Sephora®, the French chain of 2300 cosmetics retailers in 33 countries, can scan your skin, and provide you with a Pantone® Color IQ number and product recommendations that are precise matches for your skin tone. Just the four usual skin tone options: fair, light, medium and dark is way too few, as you have probably already experienced. Indeed, more than 200 detectable skin tone variations exist. All you need to do is to get tested at Sephora® to find out your specifics (for free).

The Sephora® scanning technology that analyzes your skin tone is patented in the US patent US9519927 (B1), titled System for cosmetics matching based on skin tone (color tone matching program). The Sephora® skin scanner is coupled to a software program that connects users to the inventory of products available. Once the customer is scanned and has received a Pantone® Color IQ number, the number is entered into the program which returns product suggestions. Thus, the Sephora® Pantone® Color IQ technology is not only designed to match skin tone to available product shades, it is also designed to facilitate the selection of products by reducing the possibilities, among the hundreds available.

The patented technology is incorporated within a “kiosk” comprising the skin scanner, the tablet for viewing the selection of recommended products, the counter, and electrical outlets, at a retail store. Preferably, using lights of different wavelengths, the optical scanner takes three skin images: one above the eyebrows, one between eyebrows and chin, and the third below the chin. The images are then processed (i.e.; mapped, mixed, blended and averaged) inside the scanner, into a single color identifier using the parameters of a Pantone® skin tone color set, based on sample population skin tones. The single color identifier is then wirelessly sent to a database of available products, which have been previously lab-tested and sorted according to the Pantone® skin tone color set, derived from population skin tone samples, so that the customer’s specific skin tone ID can be matched with suitable products.

The abstract of the invention is included below, together with patent and marketed images of the Pantone® skin tone set, derived from population sample skin tones, and used both for lab-testing all inventory products, and determining your own skin tone color ID.
A system allows people to more easily find products matching their skin tone. A kiosk at a retail store or other location can assist customers in determining what products are right for them and then purchase them from the retailer. The kiosk can include a scanning device is used to scan one or more spots of a person's skin. For example, three different spots can be scanned. The scan determines a skin-tone identifier for the person's skin. This skin-tone identifier is used by a software program (e.g., executing on a tablet computer) to determine and output a listing of products that are appropriate for the person's skin tone. [Abstract US9519927 (B1)]

Copyright © Sephora®

Sephora® Pantone® IQ