This Week in Patents: Disney patents an interactive book that communicates with your smart devices

This Week in Patents: Disney patents an interactive book that communicates with your smart devices

This week, the US patent office issued 6915 patents.

Each patent adds a little something new to the human knowledge base. As we cannot list all seven thousand, the PatentYogi team has selected the three most interesting patents.

Disney patents an interactive book that communicates with your smart devices
Patent Number: US 20160343264

1

Douglas Adams, the author of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy”, predicted eBooks way back in 1993.

Since, the launch of Kindle in 2007, it has been predicted in many reports that physical books will lose favor with the readers.  However, it seems that the death of the physical paper books is mistimed at the least.  On the contrary, a recent study by the Publishers Association study has revealed that sales of print books are rising, while digital sales are down for the first time since the invention of the e-reader.  The physical book sales were up to £2.76 billion in 2015 from £2.748 billion in 2014.  Meanwhile, digital sales dropped from £563m to £554m.

Therefore, the paper print is still a prolific and useful medium, and will continue to be found on coffee tables, waiting rooms, offices, schools, among other places, for years to come.  However, paper books do have limitations.  As an example, paper books lack interactivity.  Further, the paper books are not updateable and graphics in paper books are still.

Disney has been working on multimedia paper books and animated physical books.

A recent patent publication from Disney discloses Disney’s attempt to develop interactive book that communicate with users’ smart devices.

As shown above, the smart device displays an image corresponding to the current page of interactive book.  Further, the smart device may play audio corresponding to the current page of interactive book.  For example, a scene may include two fairies talking to each other, with the audio of the dialog playing over the speakers of media device.  Further, the media device may play background music.  As the user’s hand approaches the current page, the volume of the fairies’ dialog reduces, as though the user is hushing the conversation.

MIT invents active self-transformable textiles that make it super easy to create complex 3D structures
Patent Number: US 20160340826

MIT’s Self-Assembly Lab has developed new materials and methods, which make it possible to easily provide complex 3D shaped materials.

The invented technique is capable of producing predictable and unique geometric structures from traditionally passive, flat materials to thereby open up new opportunities for a variety of products and industrial manufacturing processes.

Many industries require precisely shaped materials to meet aesthetic and functional needs. For example, 1) in sports and physical fitness, complex 3D structures for sportswear and equipment are required from a performance and aesthetic perspective. 2) In the related world of fashion design, intricate patterns using pleating and complex stitching details are often utilized. When designing clothing, footwear and other accessories, the materials must be formed into shapes having a complex curvature to provide a variety of wearers with a proper fit. 3) Interior design involves furniture and other products that typically require manual assembly, molding, pleating, tufting, knotting, complex stitching, and other intricate detailing processes. Further, textile-based complex and 3-dimensional interior partitions and other wall treatments are commonly used. 4) In the medical and health fields, compression garments with various degrees of compression and tension across the body are needed to help circulate blood flow in custom pathways and to provide support.

According to a recent patent from MIT, the MIT has developed new materials and methods which make it possible to easily provide complex 3D shaped materials.  In addition, customization of the manufactured 3D shapes, without increasing or the complexity, skill, and time for producing custom products would be possible. “We can have active textiles that self-transform, but also make it efficient so that it could be feasible to produce these because it’s a minimal amount of time and material to get the textile highly active,” adds designer and computer scientist at MIT, Skylar Tibbits.

Specifically, MIT has invented a method of forming an active self-transformable material comprising providing a flexible base material. An active material is 3D printed on surfaces of the flexible base material in a specific pattern to form a combined structure having a natural shape. The active material is a material that is reactive to exposure to an external stimulus trigger. The flexible base material is non-reactive to the external stimulus trigger, minimally reactive to the external stimulus trigger, or reactive to the external stimulus trigger differently than the active material. The exposure of a portion of the specific pattern of the active material to the external stimulus trigger changes the shape of the combined structure from the natural shape into a predetermined 3-dimensional transformed shape. The video below shows how an entire shoe is created by printing the upper part of a shoe and a sole on a 2D surface of fabric.

The active material is reactive to the external stimulus trigger by swelling or shrinking. The active material has a thermal expansion modulus that causes the active material to shrink or swell upon exposure to a temperature change. The change in the shape of the combined structure from the natural shape into a predetermined 3-dimensional transformed shape is a reversible change. The change in the shape of the combined structure from the natural shape into a predetermined 3-dimensional transformed shape is an irreversible change.

The invented technique is capable of producing predictable and unique geometric structures from traditionally passive, flat materials to thereby open up new opportunities for a variety of products and industrial manufacturing processes. By reducing the manual labor, time and skill required to form materials into complex shapes, the present techniques provide significant efficiencies and manufacturing opportunities. Similarly, by introducing a new method for creating highly active self-transforming materials, entirely new products can be imagined that would not have been previously possible.

Moreover, the invented active self-transforming materials can also be designed to create dynamic performance increase -including aerodynamics, moisture control, temperature control or other properties which provide highly dynamic complex shapes/textures/patterns that may create a competitive advantage. For example, by controlling the shape and resultant flexibility/stiffness and actuation of the transforming material, a dynamic combined structure surface can transform on an athlete to increase or decrease aerodynamic resistance or breathability for higher performance. Similarly, the transformable materials can dynamically apply pressure in various points of the body to increase and control blood-flow, and form active compression garments for athletic and medical benefits. Such transformable materials can also be used to form dynamic support for enhanced strength, walking or other physical maneuvers (i.e., a tunable textile exoskeleton). Likewise, the transformable materials can provide dynamic apparel or footwear for different environments, dynamic body conditions or varied user performance (e.g., running vs. walking etc.). Using the present transformable materials, environmentally adaptive clothing and footwear can be provided wherein, for example, footwear can be designed to automatically pull together and become more water resistant when exposed to moisture, or to expand and allow more airflow if the foot becomes too hot. The transformable materials could also be used in providing structures like shoe soles, tires, and other structures provided with a grip-like surface to change their grip in response to moisture (e.g., a shoe sole or tire that can change its tread/grip as it gets wet).

MIT combines computer science and fluid dynamics to develop “Bubble Logic” computer
Patent Number: US 20160341637

3

MIT has invented a new logic family which implements universal Boolean logic, bistability and numerous other traits associated with a scalable logic family using immiscible fluids in microfluidic geometries. A bubble in a channel represents a bit. But unlike electronics, a bit of information can also carry a chemical payload, allowing them to manipulate materials and information at the same time. This paradigm ties together chemistry and computation.

Fluidics was a competing technology to solid-state electronics in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Several large-scale all-fluidic control systems were demonstrated during that time. Such fluidic gates were used to build a trajectory controller, an all-fluidic display, non-destructive memory and a simple computer. Because viscous and surface tension forces dominate fluid dynamics at small scales, these devices could not be miniaturized further, resulting in limitations in large-scale integration. With miniaturization, which was necessary for higher operating speeds and integration, it was impossible to maintain high Reynolds number flow in microscopic geometries. Fluidic approaches to control and logic applications were therefore eventually abandoned due to the inherent disadvantage that they could not be scaled down below millimeter scale because of their dependence on inertial effects. Furthermore, fluidic technology in the 1960’s primarily used analog representations. This did not provide the state restoration benefits obtained with digital logic.

A recent patent application from MIT discloses that MIT has been successful in constructing fluid-based no-moving part logic devices from complex sequences of micro- and nanofluidic channels, on-demand bubble modulators and generators for programming the devices, and micro- and nanofluidic droplet memory elements for storage and retrieval of biological or chemical elements.

The input sequence of bubbles encodes information, with the output being another sequence of bubbles or on-chip chemical synthesis. For performing a set of tasks, the modulators can be used to program the device by producing a precisely timed sequence of bubbles, resulting in a cascade of logic operations within the micro- or nanofluidic channel sequence, utilizing the generated droplets/bubbles as a control. The devices are based on the principle of minimum energy interfaces formed between the two fluid phases enclosed inside precise channel geometries. Various devices, including logic gates, non-volatile bistable memory, ring oscillators, bubble synchronizers, analysis chips, sample collectors, and printers have been designed.

Universal Logic – Nonlinear bubble interactions by hydro-dynamic force fields are exploited to build universal logic gates operating at low Re number in newtonian fluids.

Microfluidic memory – Bistable one-bit bubble memory for storage of both information and chemicals at the same time.

Bubble circuits – Bubble logic devices can be cascaded to form numerous digital circuit elements like ring oscillators, counters.

Bubble synchronization – Non-linear fluidic ladder networks are used to synchronize two streams of bubbles, thus correcting any timing error.

Bubble modulator – Bubbles can be generated on demand to encode information in a train of bubbles.

This post is part of our contributor series. It is written and published independently of TNW.

This post is part of our contributor series. The views expressed are the author's own and not necessarily shared by TNW.

Read next: 11 Quick Ways To Grow Your Email List