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This article was published on August 2, 2016

This week in patents: Magnetically levitate your house during an earthquake

This week in patents: Magnetically levitate your house during an earthquake
Deepak Gupta
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Deepak Gupta

Deepak is the founder of patent services firm PatentYogi, a new kind of patent services firm that simplifies the patent process for the inve Deepak is the founder of patent services firm PatentYogi, a new kind of patent services firm that simplifies the patent process for the inventors across the globe. They provide free patentability search service for individual inventors and startups. He also runs a YouTube channel, PatentYogi, where he publishes videos on patents. For interesting daily updates on patents, check their Instagram and Facebook.

This week, the US patent office issued 3,898 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.

Facebook might replace typed emoticons with user photos

Patent number: US 20160219006

Emoticons are quite popular on Facebook. Earlier this year, Facebook introduced new emoticons to allow users to express themselves better. The new emoticons included “love” (heart symbol), “amuses me” (funny face), “astonish me” (face of astonishment), “I’m sad” (sad face) and “me angry” (very annoying face).

A recent patent application indicates that Facebook might allow users to replace typed emoticons with user photos. For example, a smiley emoticon may be replaced by a photo of the user smiling.

The user first needs to store a predefined mapping of emoticons to various images uploaded on Facebook. Thereafter, when the user types in an emoticon sign, Facebook will automatically replace it by corresponding user photo.

This will certainly make Facebook experience more interesting and personal.

This technology magnetically levitates buildings during earthquakes to make them hover the shaky ground

Patent number: US 9,399,878

Arx Pax is an innovative company popular for its Hendo hoverboard. Possibly inspired from “Back to the future”, the Hendo hoverboard is the first board that actually hovers over the ground. It uses magnetic levitation based technology.

The company plans to use similar magnetic levitation technology to levitate buildings for about 2 minutes, when an earthquake strikes. This way the buildings are disconnected from the shaky ground. The technology could possibly save a lot of resources and lives during earthquakes.

Their patented Magnetic Field Architecture (MFA™) technology enables lift, propulsion, control— and it is a much more cost effective, and simpler solution than traditional Maglev systems.

Robin Williams may have been saved by this patent

Patent number: US 20160210703

Suicides are shocking. Not only due to the loss but also because of its sheer unpredictability.

Suicidal signs, if at all present, are subtle and often known only through extensive questioning.

Given the prevailing rate, by the time you finish reading this article, someone in the world would die by suicide. Clearly, whatever methods exist to identify and help people with suicidal tendencies isn’t working well enough.

But that’s about to change for good.

A breakthrough technology coming from National Institutes of Health (NIH) promises to predict if a person is likely to commit suicide based on a blood sample.

The technique involves measuring levels of certain special compounds in the blood, called biomarkers. When the levels of these biomarkers falls below or rises above a certain limit, it indicates a risk of suicide. One such compound is spermidine/spermine N1-acetyltransferase 1, simply called SAT1. Levels of SAT1 greater than 2500 AU indicate a substantial risk for future suicide.

This technique is also useful for determining suicidal risk as a side-effect of antidepressants.

In addition, this technology can also predict other psychotic depressed mood states and monitor response to a treatment for suicidal risk.   

Patent granted for the popular selective map marker aggregation

Patent number: US 9,401,100

Traditional, mapping applications typically display pinpoints of information corresponding to various relevant data points on a map. This limits the usefulness of maps as using pinpoints is not very intuitive. The patented technology allows users to display content such as images, videos, emojis etc. on a map. The technology has been patented by Adtile technologies, a company based out of San Diego, CA.

The patent was filed in 2011. What makes this patent interesting is that, with the rise in location based services, all popular mapping applications started using this feature. For example, popular apps like Apple Photos, Facebook and Periscope use a similar location-based map marker technology. It will be interesting to see if Adtile Technologies sues the companies using a similar location-based map marker technology.   

Print your own diamond jewelry at home

Patent number: US 20160214272

If you thought designing your own jewelry was amazing enough, then brace yourself. You can soon not only design diamond jewelry but also have it em printed at the click of a button, all while being cozy at home.

Lockheed Martin has invented a 3D printer that can print virtually any shape made out of diamonds, albeit synthetic. Being an aerospace company, this printer is primarily intended to make drill heads with complex geometries. But the technology is so versatile that it’s also capable of making custom diamond jewelry.

While most 3D printers out there use a combination of plastic, ceramic and metal, this new 3D printer uses a pre-ceramic polymer such as poly(hydridocarbyne).

To form the 3D object, the printer deposits ceramic powder and pre-ceramic polymer and heats the deposits to temperatures above 100 degrees in an inert atmosphere. The high temperature causes pyrolysis of the pre-ceramic polymer resulting in formation of poly-crystalline diamond. Alternatively, the technology is also designed to use nanodiamond powder to form the diamond based object.

When this technology reaches the stores, you could very well be printing your own engagement ring!