Monday, January 23, 2023

Oh, patents! The Dotwatch

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann 

The South Korean company Dot Incorporation has invented a beautifully designed smartwatch, specifically intended for the blind and sight-impaired. Using the company’s magnetically controlled touch sensor technology, corresponding to four 3x2 braille cells, the smartwatch displays time in refreshable braille, as well as other smartwatch functions such as date, temperature, social networking, news and callerID on incoming calls. The watch is Bluetooth connected to a smartphone. It has a battery charge that lasts 7 days. It is made of super lightweight aluminum and is both dustproof and waterproof.  

Certain aspects of the Dotwatch invention, the casing in particular, are recited the US utility patent application, US2021072816A1, titled Information output device. The application was published on March 11, 2021. The inventors on record are Ju Yoon Kim, Ju Ho Kim and Hycon Cheol Park.

Below the patent cover sheet drawing, together with an image of the stylish  Dotwatch, embodying the invention on the market. The cover sheet drawing shows a plan view of an embodiment of the information output device (1), according to the invention.

Specifically, the information output device (1) is intended to be portable and wearable, for example as a wrist watch. Although undepicted, the portable and wearable output device is designed to communicate wirelessly with a nearby computing device, such as a smartphone, portable computer or tablet via near field communication, WIFI or Bluetooth. The portable and wearable output device comprises a casing 10, protrusions 12, and an expression surface 13

Inside the casing, a sealed internal space comprises driving modules, which may include electrically-driven actuators. The protrusions 12 are driven to protrude through expression holes for tactile sensing, and to pull-back within the casing 10. The casing 10 also comprises a film surface module 13 to protect the expression surface 11 with protrusions 12 and expression holes, from external moisture, humidity, and/or contaminants, thereby enhancing the durability of the wearable and portable output device.

The Roman numerals II-II depict the crossection line for the patent Figure 2. The Roman numerals III-III depict the crosssection line for the patent Figures 3, 4 and 5.

The absrtract of the DotWatch  patent is also included below. 

This application relates to an information output apparatus. In one aspect, the apparatus includes a casing including an expression surface and an expression hole formed in the expression surface. The apparatus also includes a protrusion provided to reciprocate such that at least a part thereof protrudes out of the expression hole and information is expressed on the expression surface. The apparatus also includes a driving module located inside the casing and connected to the protrusion to move the protrusion.                [Abstract US2021072816A1]


Dot Incorporation 


Monday, January 16, 2023

Oh, patents! Dot Translate mobile device

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

The Dot Translate mobile device, in real-time, enables translation of text input to braille, the tactile language that the blind and sight-impaired use to read and write. The ultraportable Dot Translate mobile device not only bypasses embossed braille card-stock sheets, together with the prior art of manual or automated braillers, used for embossing braille on braille sheets, the Dot Translate mobile device also opens access to refreshable braille. Braille that constantly changes on screen, thereby vastly expanding the types, sources and volume of texts available in braille, in real-time, for the blind and sight-impaired. Using pin-actuated hardware with perforated glass to create tactile relief, together with Artificial Intelligence (AI) neural network translation algorithms, the Dot Translate mobile device is designed to convert any text input from the web to braille, including web pages, pdfs, and text messages.

In addition to the many US utility patents awarded for all the various aspects of this breakthrough technology, designed for the blind and sight-impaired, the slick and ultraportable Dot Translate mobile device is the recipient of a US design patent.  As a reminder, a US design patent covers the ornamental aspects of an invention, or the way an invention looks, in contrast to US utility patents, which cover the functional aspects of an invention, or how the invention worksThe US design patent USD815631, titled Mobile computing device for the vision impaired, was awarded on April 2018, to Ju Yoon Kim, the inventor and CEO of Dot Incorporation. A South Korean company dedicated to creating a barrier-free world for the blind.

Below, the patent coversheet figure drawing, depicting a front isometric view, and a left elevation view of the mobile computing device, for the vision impaired. An image of the marketed, slick and ultraportable, Dot Translate mobile device for the blind and vision impaired, is also included.


An online demonstration of the Dot Translatetext to Braille, AI neural network translation engine, is also included here. You might try the engine live here. Just type your text in English, and Dot Translate will convert it to Braille(1). Braille that becomes readable, in real time, for the blind or sight-impaired, using refreshable braille, tactile relief hardware, such as that which is embodied in the Dot Translate mobile device.

(1) In case the Dot Translate, text to Braille, live engine is glitchy, please experiment with the link , which also includes a back translation field.

Dot Incorporation
Dot Translate

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

CES 2023 – The Dot Pad

 Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

The Dot Pad is the winner of a Best of Innovation award in the Accessibility category, at the 2023 Computer Electronics Show (CES)(1), in Las Vegas, California, on Jan. 5-8. The Dot Pad is the world’s first tactile graphics tablet, enabling access to visually-generated graphics, such as maps, charts and illustrations, for the visually impaired and the blind. Using patented dot actuator technology, together with patented braille translation software, on a patented split screen output device, that is seamlessly integrated via Bluetooth connection to VoiceOver-enabled iOS mobile devices, the Dot Pad finally offers real-time interaction with graphics content from the web, for the blind and visually impaired. Real time interaction provided via 300-cell (2400-pin) interactive tactile access to graphics, charts, illustrations, and maps, as well as 20-cell (160-pin) refreshable text-to-Braille display. The Dot Pad is a tablet designed with accessibility to graphics in mind for a community of 285 million blind people.

Masterminded by the Korean company Dot Incorporation, the Dot Pad is the latest product of a whole line of smart electronic devices, designed to create a barrier-free world for the blind. A world where only 3% of printed materials are translated to Braille, creating a huge literacy gap. A world where it is impossible to use an ATM, or a glucose monitor, that is not Braille-enabled. Likewise, a world inaccessible for buying public transportation tickets, finding your way using public transportation maps,  texting or using email, surfing the web, googling, and many more tasks that are completely taken for granted by sighted people. Tasks that are impossible to perform without some form of assistive VoiceOver technology, designed to provide audio instead of visual input, or to enable tactile access with Braille.

Braille is a tactile language that enables the visually impaired and blind to read and write. It was developed in 1824, by Louis Braille, a fifteen-year-old French youth, who lost his eyesight in a childhood accident. The Braille system consists of a tactile code for letters and punctuation, as well as for word contractions. A tactile code that is traditionally embossed on thick paper stock. The code consists of Braille cells, comprising varying combinations of 3x2 raised dots. 

For Braille text and graphics to become refreshable on a computer screen, the technology involves generating tactile relief. In a nutshell, the Dot Pad comprises a perforated glass grid screen, allowing 2400 pins to come through as raised or lowered tactile relief. Tactile relief corresponding to an output both in Braille text and raised-dot graphics. The constantly pin-actuated (or refreshed) glass surface is driven by AI algorithms, using any input (print, graphics, images or audio), for translation to Braille and dot  graphics. Input-processing mediated via Bluetooth connection to the web, running on another VoiceOver-enabled, iOS mobile device. The dot graphics are further manipulable, for example with pan, zoom, rotate and invert functions.

Thus, the Dot Pad brings together many different patented inventions, not the least of which is the small, lightweight and compact format of the pin-actuated device. The following is a list of some of the corresponding US utility patents, awarded for various output aspects of the Dot Pad.
  • US11508259 - Information output apparatus.
  • US11322003 - Information output device.
  • US11263935 - Electronic display device and information display method of same.
  • US10996916 - Data output apparatus and method, and computer-readable recording medium.
  • US10971041 - Electronic display device and information display method of same.
  • US10679532 - Electronic display device and information display method of same.
  • US10649714 - Data output apparatus and method, and computer-readable recording medium.
  • US10217389 - Electronic display device and information display method of same.
Below,  an image of the marketed device, and a Youtube video, showcasing the Dot Pad dot-actuated graphics.

(1) The Las Vegas Computer Electronic Show (CES) is one of the largest tradeshows in the world. Traditionally, since 1967, CES has unveiled some of the most game-changing technologies, such as VCRs, CDs, DVDs and digital radio. 2023 is "back-to-normal" attendance, after two consecutive years of hosting a virtual event.

CES 2023 
Dot Incorporation

Friday, December 30, 2022

Oh, kids! Gitanjali Rao, young inventor

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

What were you doing, when you were 10 years old? According to the USPTO inventor-profiling series, Journeys of innovation, 10-year old Gitanjali Rao was compelled to figure out what she could do to help remove lead from contaminated water in Flint, MI. A story she had heard on TV News, which led her to think that kids, just like her, were drinking contaminated water in their community, and getting sick. She thought that there must be a way to remove such dangerous substances. No wonder that in 2020, at fifteen years of age, Gitanjali was featured as Time Magazine Kid of the Year. No wonder, but how extraordinary!

Her first invention, titled System and method for detecting contaminants in water was awarded the US utility patent US11085907, on August 10, 2021. The invention, called the Tethys, after the Greek Titan Goddess of fresh water, recites the use of carbon nanotubes to detect unsafe drinking water, containing lead. Specifically, the invention comprises a carbon nanotube sensor, configured to detect one or more contaminants in the water. When the sensor is dipped in water, lead binds to the chloride ions of the sensor, creating lead chloride molecules, which increase resistance to the current, inside the nanotube. In general, the amount of lead detected is proportional to the increase in resistance to the current. 

Then, the microcontroller, connected to the carbon nanotube sensor, determines the level of contamination of the water, based on the difference between the resistance encountered inside the nanotube, and a set of pre-existing resistances. Finally, depending on whether the difference is found above, or below, two different threshold levels, the water is then determined safe, moderate risk, or unsafe for drinking. The results are sent via wireless Bluetooth® connection to a mobile device, where they are gauge-displayed.

Below, an image of the Tethys system prototype inside its housing, together with the patent Figure 3D, depicting the water decontamination device 300, and insulating cartridge 303, comprising the carbon nanotube sensor. Both the image of the prototype, and the patent Figure 3D, depict the system inside a housing, designed to protect all the components of the Tethys system.  

The image of a Marvel comic book cover, depicting Genius Gitanjali, the young Tethys inventor, is also included below, together with the abstract of her first invention. 
Devices, systems, and methods for detecting contaminants in water are provided. A device may include: a sensor configured to detect one or more contaminants in a liquid when the sensor is dipped into the liquid; a computing device connected to the sensor, the computing device being configured to determine a resistance of the device when the sensor is dipped into the liquid; and a wireless electronic device connected to the computing device via one or more wireless links and configured to receive the resistance of the device when the sensor is dipped into the liquid from the computing device, and the wireless electronic device determines a level of contamination in the liquid based on a difference between the resistance of the device when the sensor is dipped into the liquid and a set or predetermined resistance. [Abstract US11085907]


Gitanjali Rao - Time Kid of the Year 2020.

Prisco, J. (Feb. 15, 2018). Gitanjali Rao wants to make polluted water safer with lead-detection system.

USPTO – Journeys of innovation: One girl’s commitment.

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Oh, patents! Glucose-monitoring contact lens

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Yes, that’s right, smart contact lenses, comprising Lab-on-a-Chip (LOC) nanotechnology, that continuously measures and analyzes glucose levels in tear film, sending information to your mobile device for the management of diabetes. In a nutshell, this is what the Medella Health smart contact lenses are all about: paving the way for on-eye tear diagnostics. Pioneers in smart contact lenses, because beyond nano-glucose monitoring, tear film contains many important biomarkers of health, all of which are potential sources of personal health information. 

The YouTube video below explains how the smart lens works:

Winner of an International Runner-up James Dyson Award, the many aspects of the Medella Health smart contact lens, comprising LOC or Micro Total Analysis System (µTAS), are recited in a family of patents:
  • CA2948010A1Functional contact lens and related systems and methods.
  • CN106793943BFunctional contact lens and related systems and methods.
  • EP3131454A4 - Functional contact lens and related systems and methods.
  • US20170042480A1 - Functional contact lens and related systems and methods.
  • WO2015157855A1 - Functional contact lens and related systems and methods.
The US20170042480A1 abstract, of the Medella Health smart contact lens invention, is included below.
Various embodiments are described herein for a Functional Contact Lens (FCL) for detecting at least one target analyte. The FCL may comprise a substrate for supporting electronic components and providing structural support for the functional contact lens; at least one sensing element disposed on the substrate for sensing the at least one target analyte and undergoing a physical change representing a sensed signal; and an antenna disposed on the substrate for transmitting the sensed signal to an external device, the antenna being coupled to the at least one sensing element. [Abstract US20170042480A1]
Medella Health