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This article was published on September 5, 2016

Kickass new patents: Google’s self-driving cars can detect police vehicles

Kickass new patents: Google’s self-driving cars can detect police vehicles
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 6,793 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.

Google’s self-driving cars will detect police vehicles

Patent number – US 20160252905

Google’s self-driving cars might be super smart, yet they need to follow the traffic rules while on road. According to traffic rules in most countries, a car driver should immediately stop their car on the side of the road when a police vehicle approaches the car.

Further, police vehicles are sometimes engaged in a pursuit operation. During these close chasing operations, the police vehicle has the authority to jump traffic signals and run without any speed limitations.  However, an obstruction of any form could disrupt the emergency response operation.

Therefore, Google has developed a police vehicle detection system for their self-driving cars. The detection system automatically detects police vehicles based on the pattern of flashing lights on the police cars. For example, in the US, the police vehicles often have a flashing light system with four different light sources in a generally horizontal configuration. The four light sources emit a red light and a blue light alternatively.

Once a police vehicle is detected, the self-driving car manoeuvres itself to yield to the police vehicle; for example, by pulling over to a side of a road.

The system can also be used to detect other types of emergency vehicles such as ambulances based on ambulance light patterns.    

Your favorite Disney princesses may soon come to life

Patent number – US 9,427,868

While its enjoyable for children to see their favorite Disney characters come alive, it isn’t the same for the humans who wear those burdensome suits. Besides, it’s often tiring for parents to guard the child’s fantasy bubble, hiding the fact that it’s just a human under the suit.

All that is about to change with this technology that brings animated characters alive in the form of robots.

While it’s trivial to replicate the appearance of a cartoon character, it’s anything but that to faithfully mimic the character’s motion. First off, cartoon characters don’t necessarily follow the laws of physics. And we aren’t talking about the gravity defying stunts. Even a simple walking style that is peculiar to a character may be inherently unstable when replicated in the real world. So obviously existing robots which are constrained to move like humans cannot be clothed appropriately and reprogrammed to mimic the movements of cartoon characters.

Therefore, the inventors at Disney have followed a ground-up approach of building robots from the scratch based on kinematics of the cartoon character. Animation files describing the motion characteristics of a character are automatically analyzed to determine a skeleton that can mimic the movements in reality without being unstable. Based on this skeleton, legs and/or arms of the robots are constructed using 3D printing and suitable actuators are attached at movable joints. Further, the processors that control the actuators are programmed to cause motions at the joints that is a close approximation of the animated character’s motion, while preserving physical stability. As a result, not only would such a robot look like the cartoon character but it would also possess its motion style, without tripping over itself.  

Ford plans to include a mirage roof in their cars

Patent number – US 20160250969

Moonroofs are quite popular among car owners, as they increase the amount of natural light that enters the passenger compartment. Further, in good weather, the moonroof can open to improve airflow in the passenger compartment.

However, accommodating the moonroof often includes redesigning the roof structure. It involves removing cross-members in the roof, resulting in a reduced structural support. Therefore, the roof is reinforced in other areas to compensate for the reduction in structural support.

Ford has developed a mirage roof, as an alternate to moonroofs. Mirage roof simulates an opening in the roof. It includes a camera to capture a live video feed of a view above a car. Further, a display panel is attached an interior roof surface. The display panel displays the live video feed of the view above the car in real time inside the car.

When the ambient light is not desired, the display panel may be turned off to simulate the effect of closing a moonroof shade. Moreover, the display panel may have different sections that can be independently illuminated to, e.g., illuminate different areas of the passenger compartment.

Xerox uses your eyeball to measure blood sugar 

Patent number – US 20160249802

Diabetes patients need to monitor their blood sugar levels daily. This generally involves pricking their fingers for a blood sample.

Some non-invasive techniques are being developed to monitor blood sugar, but their effectiveness is not yet proven. Google is working on smart contact lens that would be capable of measuring blood sugar. This will avoid the need for pricking fingers; however, these contact lens will touch human eye, so they are also a bit intrusive.

Now, Xerox has invented an eyeball optical measurement device for measuring characteristics of the aqueous humor in the anterior chamber in an eyeball of a person.

The device emits light toward an anterior chamber of an eyeball of a person and then detects the light that has passed through aqueous humor in a state that the eyeball is turned outward. The detected light is then analyzed to determine characteristics of the aqueous humor.

This device exploits the fact that the aqueous humor in the anterior chamber has approximately the same components as blood serum, which contains proteins, glucose, ascorbic acid, etc. It is also well known that there is a correlation between the glucose concentration in blood and that in aqueous humor. Moreover, aqueous humor contains no cellular substances as found in blood and produces only small influences due to light scattering there. The proteins, glucose, ascorbic acid, etc. contained in aqueous humor are optically active substances and have optical rotatory power. Therefore, by measuring a polarization plane rotation angle (optical rotatory power) of optically active substances in the aqueous humor a concentration of glucose can be determined.      

Nike wants your shoes and socks to match

Patent number – US 20160249686

Nike is one the most innovative company in the footwear space. They come up with new designs of footwear almost every week.

A recent patent has revealed that Nike is working on shoes and socks with aligning designs.  The designs will include markings which may be a logo, a symbol, an abstract design, or a holographic mark. Each of a shoe and a sock will only have a partial marking. When a user wears both the shoe and the sock, the full marking will appear, when the partial markings on the shoe and sock align.

This will help Nike in cross-selling, as consumers will prefer to buy both products (shoes and socks) from Nike.  

Further, these shoes and socks will enable better video capture of the markings engraved on various external surfaces of these shoes and socks to provide references for the positioning of the foot of the wearer during athletic movements.  This is particularly useful for analysis of athletic performance.

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