This Week in Patents: Google is revolutionizing gesture control

This Week in Patents: Google is revolutionizing gesture control

This week, the US patent office issued 6300 patents.

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

Microsoft improves its Cortana Digital assistant as digital assistant battle heats up
Patent Number: US 20160321263


Voice-activated AI driven digital assistants have been launched by all major tech companies.  Apple has Siri, Amazon has Alexa, Microsoft has Cortana and Google has Google Now and Google Assistant. Google is betting big on its assistant. They even added multi-lingual capability to its assistant.

The digital assistants started with performing some simple tasks for users, such as setting an alarm or sending a text. Now, companies have started giving personality to these assistants. Microsoft’s assistant can determine the user’s mental or emotional state and act accordingly. The talking computers in Star Trek seem to be guiding these companies.

A recent patent application for Microsoft discloses a digital assistant that can provide personalized greetings to users. Microsoft aims to develop a digital assistant that mimics a human experience with the users.

For example, an out of the ordinary event, an especially busy day for the user, the user’s birthday, a win by the user’s favorite sporting team, unusual weather, the user’s geo-location being different than normal, etc., may be used in the generation of personalized greetings.

The patented personalize greetings service is able to perform some computations, such as comparing the user’s birth date to the current date, to determine if today is the user’s birthday. In this case, if the user’s birth date and the current date match, one type of personalized greeting generated may be a “Happy Birthday” message along with a birthday cake animation. Another type of personalized greeting generated may be “Good morning Samuel. Today looks like it will be a busy day for you,” or “Busy day ahead. Take a deep breath and remember to take breaks between meetings,” both of which could have been based on the user having multiple meetings on his calendar on that particular day.

In addition, multiple greetings are generated and ranked. Multiple greetings can then be combined and presented to the user. For example, a combined greeting such as “Welcome home! Brace yourself and stay hydrated today–the mercury is going to rise above 90 degrees today!” may be selected if the user has just returned home from a business trip or a vacation, and there are presently unusually high temperatures at the user’s location.

LinkedIn plans to help users set and achieve professional goals
Patent Number: US 20160321592


Google invents one-click offline buying
Patent Number: US 20160321648


Amazon filed a patent application for its one-click buying system for online transactions in 1997.  Since, then the patent has potentially generated billions in revenue.  Apple is one of the licenses of the patent as it uses one-click buying in iTunes.

However, an offline version of one-click buying still eludes us.  That is till now.  A recent patent application from Google discloses a one-click system for offline buying.

The contactless payment technology has been developed. It incorporates proximity communications between two devices to authenticate and enable payment for goods and services over the air (OTA) or without physical connection. Near Field Communication (NFC) and RFID are examples of proximity communication options that can enable contactless payment technologies.

However, the existing contactless payment technology is not integrated with NFC mobile device communication elements.  As a result, a user must maneuver through multiple activating steps to initiate a payment transaction. For example, the mobile device must not only be turned “on” but must also be “active.” A user must unlock their mobile device and launch a contactless payment application, such as an electronic wallet application. Within the application, the user must signal an intent to initiate a payment and enter security information such as a personal identification number. The user must also select a payment option, such as a particular credit card, to use in the payment transaction. The majority of these steps must be repeated for each payment transaction.

Google has invented a system that integrates contactless payment technology with the mobile device’s contactless communication systems and streamlines the process by which a user can securely initiate payment transactions.

The system allows for initiating a contactless payment transaction using a single input activation of a mobile device’s secure element comprises detecting the activation status of the mobile device’s screen.  The contactless communication system of the device is inactive while the device’s screen is inactive. The contactless communication system may include an NFC controller and NFC antenna. Upon detection of screen activation, the contactless communication system and the secure element are activated.  Thereafter, a single-click from a user completes the payment.  The single-click input automatically identifies the default payment information, and prepares the default payment information for communication to a merchant reader terminal via the mobile device contactless communication system.

Google is revolutionizing gesture control
Patent Number: US 9,463,884


Gesture-controlled future has been a constant theme of science-fiction movies. This is one science-fiction technology that is nearing market implementation.

A recent patent application from Google indicates that Google is set to revolutionize the gesture control.

Small-screen computing devices continue to proliferate, such as smartphones and computing bracelets, rings, and watches. However, many people find it difficult to interact with these devices through virtual keyboards, as they often result in slow and inaccurate inputs.

Therefore, many companies are developing screen-based gesture recognition techniques. For example, optical finger- and hand-tracking techniques have been developed, which enable gesture tracking not made on the screen. These optical techniques have been large, costly, or inaccurate thereby limiting their usefulness in addressing usability issues with small-screen computing devices. Another recently developed technology uses radar to track gestures. Current radar techniques, however, often require a large antenna array and suffer from numerous practical difficulties.

Therefore, Google has developed a wide-field radar-based gesture recognition. The system can accurately recognize gestures that are made in three dimensions, such as non-screen or “in-the-air” gestures. These in-the-air gestures can be made from varying distances, such as from a person sitting on a couch to control a television, a person standing in a kitchen to control an oven or refrigerator, or centimeters from a computing watch’s small-screen display.

The gestures are mapped to various applications and devices, thereby enabling control of many devices and applications. Many complex and unique gestures can also be recognized by the patented wide-field radar-based gesture-recognition, thereby permitting precise and single-gesture control, even for multiple applications.

This technology seems to be straight out of an Ironman movie!

The wide-field radar-based gesture-recognition system includes a radar-emitting element and an antenna element. The radar-emitting element is configured to provide wide-field radar in contrast to narrow-beam-scanning radar fields. A large contiguous field is used, rather than a beam-scanning field. The reflections in that field are received by one or multiple antennas. This reflection signal includes many signals and signal elements. The large radar field and large-field reflections are received at a receiver but the signal received is processed by digitally breaking up the received reflections. The broken-up signals are then analyzed separately to determine the gesture performed by a user.

NASA invents a smart fastener
Patent Number – US 9,483,674


Fasteners such as bolts, nuts, studs, washers and rivets, are used in innumerable structures and machines. Fastener failure has led to many costly documented failures in a wide range of application and for many different causes.

NASA has also experienced a number of fastener problems as were compile during a technical exchange meeting in the mid-90 (Gamwell 1995). Out of 240 lots of fasteners period, 42 lots were rejected.

Fastener failure analysis has shown that the causes include improper tightening, fatigue, tensile fracture, galling, insufficient preload, thread stripping, creep, stress relaxation, and self-loosening.

NASA has invented a smart fastener to ensure that fastener failure can be detected in time to avoid huge losses.  The technology offers the ability to remotely, quickly, and inexpensively verify that any number of fasteners are torqued properly upon initial installation. Further, it allows low cost monitoring over the life of the fastener.

The smart fasteners include an RFID-based torque sensor that can be used to quickly monitor off the shelf fasteners including fasteners that are used in expensive satellites or other uses where fastener failure can be very costly.

The sensor includes an antenna, an RFID ring and a spring. The sensor can be interrogated with an interrogation signal produced by an interrogator device. When sufficient torque is applied to the fastener, an RFID circuit is connected, and produces a radio frequency (RF) signal that can be read by the interrogator. If the RFID circuit does not transmit when the spring member is not compressed, it indicates insufficient tensioning of the fastener.

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.

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