This article was published on March 20, 2016

This week in patents: Facebook for IoT, NASA gets athletes ready to compete and more

This week in patents: Facebook for IoT, NASA gets athletes ready to compete and more
Deepak Gupta
Story by

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 6,769 patents. Each patent adds a little something new to the human knowledge base. As we cannot list all five thousand, the PatentYogi team has selected the six most interesting patents.

Boeing achieves low energy transfers in space travel

Patent Number – US 9,284,068

The hybrid propulsion spacecraft may have a high thrust (HT) engine, such as a chemically powered engine and a low thrust (LT) engine such as a solar electric propulsion engine.

It works by determining an optimal trajectory with low fuel/propellant use and fast flight times.

The optimal trajectory includes an optimal LT trajectory portion selected from a stable manifold trajectory and an optimal HT trajectory selected from a manifold of bridge orbit arcs.

It exploits the fact that the spacecraft will almost need no fuel to go into orbit about L2, as the spacecraft will be ballistically captured in a weak stability boundary region about L2O.

Using this technique can reduce the number of maneuvers to be performed while getting from LEO to L2O by as much as 20 percent with a flight time of as less as six to seven days.

NASA helps athletes “get in the zone” quickly

Patent Number – US 9,283,468

It is well known in the field of performance psychology that the peak performance of a task, such as, for example, putting in golf, requires an optimal physiological state, which is colloquially referred to as “being in the zone.”

NASA’s patented technology includes a portable device (such as a head-mounted display) that provides performance-enhancing biofeedback training to the trainee. The novelty of the solution is that it tightly embeds the biofeedback training in the actual task whose performance is to be improved. Further, the training is operational in real-time, precisely at the moment when a task or exercise, such as an athletic or military maneuver, is required to be performed. Therefore, the players can use the technology during practice before the match to get in the zone.

The patented technology can help players accomplish various tasks including putting in golf, foul shooting in basketball, serving in tennis, marksmanship in archery or on a gunnery range, shooting pool or even throwing darts.

Smart Ring

Patent Number – US 20160077587

Microsoft has invented a Smart Ring. According to Microsoft, the smart ring can act as a universal input device that will work with TVs, desktop computers, laptops, smart phones, tablets and even other wearable devices like glasses, wrist bands, and watches.

The smart ring includes a flexion sensor to detect a pose of the finger.  This enables the smart ring to interpret movement of the finger and the fingertip.  The smart ring wirelessly transmits information related to the pose and movement of the finger to control any companion device. 

Thereby, the smart ring allows a user to use her finger to control the companion device.

It will be a big relief for users if a single device can be used to control all devices

Disney patents animated books

Patent Number – US 9,285,660


Disney’s patented books include a number of physical pages. Further, one or more projectors are embedded in the rear cover of the book. The projectors project light based on the page opened by the user.

Users can also interact with the content using voice or touch based inputs. For example, the elf is projected by the projector on a page of the book. When user touches the page, the projector shifts the projection of elf accordingly.

Facebook wants to be IoT command center

Patent Number – US 20160080389

Facebook wants to be the central platform that users use to control client devices, such as a thermostat, an automobile, a drone, a toaster, a thermostat, a computer, a refrigerator, an air conditioner, a robot, a vacuum, an actuator and a heater.

The patented technology will enable users to send control signals to multiple client devices using Facebook’s platform.  This will help users avoid installing multiple apps for various devices. Further, users will be able to conveniently share control of a device with other users in their network on Facebook.

IOT devices are expected to become ubiquitous wherein each user will have control of various devices at home, car, office etc. If Facebook is successful at becoming a central point of access to client devices, Facebook will be able to integrate more closely with our lives. It would become a platform to control daily life and not just personal relationships.

IBM patents social media karaoke

Patent Number – US 9,286,943

Karaoke is a social entertainment activity where amateur singers sing along to selected music. In offline scenarios, singers receive immediate feedback from spectators who evaluate the singer’s live performance. IBM wants to bring a similar experience to online social karaoke applications.

The patented system provides immediate audience sentiment feedback to singers. For example, the system analyzes facial expressions of listeners to generate feedback that is conveyed to a singer in real-time.  The singer can then try to improve content creation in response.

The patented system would be a boon for all bathroom singers!