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

Wednesday, February 14, 2018


Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

"Twenty years ago, Eve Ensler’s play The Vagina Monologues gave birth to V-Day, a global activist movement to end violence against all women and girls (cisgender, transgender, and gender non-conforming). 
Since 1998, The Vagina Monologues and other works have been performed across the world by local V-Day activists, raising over $100 million dollars for grassroots anti-violence groups, rape crisis centers, domestic violence shelters, and safe houses in places like Kenya and Afghanistan. V-Day supports and launched the City of Joy, a revolutionary center for women survivors of gender violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which has graduated over 1000 women leaders. 
Activists look at the intersection of class, race, gender, environmental destruction, imperialism, militarism, patriarchy, poverty, and war, as women face abuse and exploitation across layers of systematic and societal oppression, with the most marginalized and excluded often facing increased levels of violence. 
In 2013, V-Day gave birth to One Billion Rising - the largest mass action to demand an end to violence against women in history. V-Day and One Billion Rising are a crucial part of the global fight to stop gender-based violence through attacking the silence — public and private — that allows violence against women to continue. 
With ingenuity and determination, V-Day activists around the world are tirelessly working to end harassment, rape, battery, incest, female genital mutilation and sex slavery." [Extracted from - RISE, RESIST, UNITE]
Eve Ensler
The Vagina Monologues
Unitl the Violence Stops
One Billion Rising
VDay - Rise Resist unite 

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Oh, patents! Chronocam

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann
The Chronocam, camera that only sees what moves, ushers in a huge inventive step in the domain of smart sensors used for machine vision. This technology, developed as a spinoff from France’s CNRS Vision Institute, is termed game-changing and evidence of a paradigm shift by the inventors. 

Related image
Copyright © Chronocam
Up to the Chronocam, all the pixels in a picture captured a tiny part of a scene, which image synthesizers organize into an image. Images taken in succession, for example 24 frames per second, as in motion picture, each contain all of the information in the scene. However, this sort of image acquisition also creates a huge amount of redundant information, from one frarme to the almost identical subsequent frame, which video compression encoding cannot completely delete. In addition to generating lots of redundancy this prior mode of image acquisition also loses a lot of information. The information lost is all that happens between the 24 frames per second, or all the information that has moved or changed much faster. 

In other words, what if you could actually capture what happens at the speed of 100,000 frames per second? What if you captured all the information lost to 24 frames per second, without generating a massive amount of data, and a gigantic storage problem?

In a nutshell, this is exactly what the Chronocam does. Instead of each pixel capturing a tiny part of a scene in each of 24 frames per second, the pixels in Chronocam image acquisition only capture what moves, and what moves as fast as 100,000 frames per second, or less. Since not everything moves, this eliminates the prior redundancy. And since the acquisition works much faster, at the speed of 100,000 frames per second, it is also far more sensitive to all the events happening in the scene, especially those phenomena that happen very fast.

Consider for example being able to capture the real-time microcirculation of blood, on a cellular level. What radically changes in this mode of image acquisition is that, since the pixels only capture what moves in a scene, the acquisition is actually no longer clock-dependent, it depends on what's moving in the scene.

The Chronocam has applications wherever machines require artificial vision, in particular for autonomous cars, since the motion dependent image acquisition technology is unaffected by light conditions, such as glare. Applications also exist in industrial settings, for inspection and monitoring of production and installations, for always-on visual input applications, and for scientific microscopy. Applications also exist for drones and Remotely Piloted aerial systems (RPAS), plus more. 

 The various aspects of Chronocam technology are patented in at least 17 different patent families. Members from each separate patent family are hyperlinked in the list appearing below.
  • US2018024343 (A1) ― 2018-01-25 - Imaging device and method
  • AU2016248758 (A1) ― 2017-10-26 - Pixel cell circuit and implant 
  • US2017111619 (A1) ― 2017-04-20 - Device for displaying an image sequence and system for displaying a scene 
  • US2017110045 (A1) ― 2017-04-20 - Display control method and device for implementing said method 
  • US2017053407 (A1) ― 2017-02-23 - Method of tracking shape in a scene observed by an asynchronous light sensor 
  • BR112013028742 (A2) ― 2017-01-24 - Method and device for controlling a device for aiding vision
  • WO2017060590 (A1) ― 2017-04-13 - Method of optimizing decomposition of an asynchronous signal 
  • WO2017009543 (A1) ― 2017-01-19 - Data-processing device with representation of values by time intervals between events 
  • WO2017013065 (A1) ― 2017-01-26 - Method for downsampling a signal outputted by an asynchronous sensor 
  • EP3271869 (A1) ― 2018-01-24 - Method for processing an asynchronous signal 
  • EP3272119 (A1) ― 2018-01-24 - Method for the 3d reconstruction of a scene  
  • US2016086344 (A1) ― 2016-03-24 - Visual tracking of an object 
  • KR20140130106 (A) ― 2014-11-07 - 발명의 명칭 비동기식 광센서의 베이스에 대한 광흐름 평가 방법
  • AU2011247114 (B2) ― 2014-11-27 - Implant having three-dimensional shape for electrically stimulating a nerve structure
  • WO2013083848 (A1) ― 2013-06-13 - Method of 3d reconstruction of a scene calling upon asynchronous sensors
  • FR2922074 (A1) ― 2009-04-10 - Procédé de synchronisation de flux vidéo 
  • US2007008405 (A1) ― 2007-01-11 - Method for calibrating at least two video cameras relatively to each other for stereoscopic filming and device therefor 
The video below shows Chronocam image acquisition tracking a person.

CNRS - Institut de la vision

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Oh, patents! NeOse PRO™

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Do you have a digital nose? If you cannot imagine digitizing something as body-mediated as an odor, then take a peek at Aryballe Technologies’ NeOse PRO™. This is exactly what this technology does.  From the user's perspective, odorant VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) bind to 40 specific biosensors on a gold-covered prism. The pattern resulting from the way the VOCs bind is photographed, digitized and stored in a database of odorant patterns, on a remote server. When an odor is identified (pattern-matched in the database of digitized odorants), the information is sent back to the user’s mobile phone app. The reading of odors takes about 30 seconds. The technology invokes a combination of nanotech, biotech, IT, cognitive sciences and proprietary algorithms enabling to differentiate odors that are similar.  

Applications currently exist in the cosmetics, food and environmental industries, where the NeOse PRO™ can respectively: assist with standardization of sensory evaluations; assist with the evaluation of product conformity, and measure air quality indoors, almost in real time.

The technology designated Surface Plasmon Resonance imagery (SPRi) adapted to sensory analysis was initially developed in a partnership between the CNRS (France’s National Center for Scientific Research) and the CEA (France’s Center for Atomic Energy). Aryballe Technologies applied SPRi to the analysis of odorants, and then developed the handheld odor-detection device, together with the onboard mobile technology. 

The NeOse Pro technology was originally recited for both electronic nose and tongue applications in the following patent family:
The abstract for WO2013124810 is included below.  An image of the odor detector, as it was presented at CES 2018 is also included. This device won a Smart Cities CES 2018 Innovation Award. 
The present invention relates to a sensor for an electronic tongue or nose for analysing a sample or detecting a target. The sensor comprises a support, on one surface of which a plurality of sensitive areas are located, each sensitive area comprising at least one receptor and being capable of transmitting a measurable signal generated by the interaction of at least one constituent of the sample or one target with at least one receptor. The sensor is characterised in that it comprises at least three sensitive areas that differ from one another in terms of their respective receptor compositions, at least one of the sensitive areas comprising a mixture of at least two different receptors, while the two other sensitive areas each comprise at least one of the two receptors. [Abstract WO2013124810]
Now, do you also have a digital tongue? If not... then you might keep an eye out on Aryballe Technologies for an electronic taste detector, capable of digitizing tastants! The scope of the invention covers both sensory experiences.

Aryballe Technologies – NeOse Pro
Aryballe Technologies
CNRS - Centre National de Rercherche Scientifique 
CEA - Centre d'Energie Atomique 

Friday, February 2, 2018

Oh, patents! Qista

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Got bugs?

Qista, produced and manufactured by the French company Techno BAM, has an innovative solution that is lethal for mosquitos, while remaining safe for both humans and the environment. The Qista mosquito stations simulate human breathing with carbon dioxide while releasing some irresistible scents, designed to lure insects into thinking they are going to sting humans. The mosquitos, and especially females, are thus drawn into the stations, where they are trapped inside a net.

The Qista invention was informed by research carried out on mosquito control at the Tour du Valat Research Insitute, focused on the Conservation of Mediterranean Wetlands.  It was motivated by a desire to find an alternative to chemical solutions, such as:
1. Use of the Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti) larvacide, for which evidence of collateral environmental impact exists (Poulin, et. al., 2006);
2. Insecticidal solutions, the side-effects of which are extensively documented (e.g.; Aktar, et al., 2009), including the risks of resistance; and 
3. Repellant solutions (e.g.; DEET - N,N-diethyl-3-methylbenzamide), which merely divert the mosquito populations, without suppressing them.  

The Qista mosquito stations have a range of 200 feet outdoors, which makes them far more effective than designs of the prior art. They are lethal for nematocerous dipterans (biting insects) and hematophagous dipterans (bloodsucking insects). They are also cost-effective, and recommended for both outdoor residential and commercial areas (e.g.; gardens and parks).  

This invention is recited in the following family of patents:
  • US20170231210A1 - Device and method for trapping flying insect pests.
  • WO2016020627 - Appareil et procédé pour prendre au piège des insectes volants nuisibles
  • MX2017001715 - Aparato y proceso para atrapar insectos voladores dañinos
  • EP3177138 - Device and method for trapping flying insect pests 
  • FR3024643 - Appareil et procédé pour prendre au piège des insectes volants nuisibles
  • CA2957356 - Device and method for trapping flying insect pests 
The abstract for US20170231210 is included below, together with one of the patent drawings, showing the device according to the invention.

An apparatus for trapping flying insect pests, including: a device for diffusing in the surrounding ambient air a gaseous lure the composition of which is suitable for attracting the insects; a device for sucking a flow of surrounding ambient air containing the insects attracted by the diffused gaseous lure, an insect trap arranged with the suction device so the insects sucked by said device are retained in said trap        .[Abstract US20170231210]

Aktar, W. MD, Sengpupta, D & A. Chowdhry (2009) Impact of pesticides use in agriculture: their benefits and hazards. In Interdiscip Toxicol. 2009 Mar; 2(1): 1–12. Published online 2009 Mar. doi:  10.2478/v10102-009-0001-7
Poulin, B., Lefebve, G & L. Paz (2006) Red flag for green spray: adverse trophic effects of Bti on breeding birds. In The Journal of Applied Ecology, DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2664.2010.01821.x
Tour du Valat
US Dept. Of Health – Mosquito Larvicide - Bti