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This article was published on June 13, 2016

This week in patents: Charge your phone with your hand, Amazon patents conversations, and more

This week in patents: Charge your phone with your hand, Amazon patents conversations, and more
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 6,883 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.

Ford patents a cool foldable electric bike

Patent number – US 9,359,03

Ford has been developing several types of electric bikes that can go along with their cars. These include foldable bikes with various configurations, an inflatable bike and also a unicycle built into one of the wheels of the car.

The latest patented bike includes folding pedals and handlebar mounts, a folding chain stay component, two or more pivots of the frame coupled together at a single locking lever, and the wheel couplings and wheel axles. When folded the bike can fit inside a typical passenger car’s luggage space, minimizing the loss of luggage space capacity.

It also includes a power, a motor and control system for measuring, e.g., physiological factors of the user and controlling the motor according to the user characteristics.  User characteristics include, for example, physiological and biometric factors such as pedaling power, pedaling force, pedaling cadence, weight, comfort level, riding skill, aerodynamic form, clothing and fitness level. Once the user characteristics are determined, the bike can smartly assist the user while driving the bike.  For example, the bike can be configured to provide power assistance during acceleration at intersections, to help prevent the user from slowing traffic. Further, the bike may be configured to provide faster acceleration in “sporty mode”.

Moreover, when folded the motor can be activated to assist in the towing of the folded bicycle. This can help users to tow the folded bike towards to the boot of the car.

Ford also fixes issues with self-driving taxis

Patent number – US 20160161266

Autonomous or self-driving cars are almost ready to be deployed on the roads across the world. One use of these cars is that they can be used to build an autonomous taxi service (an automated Uber). In fact, Uber has been working along with Ford and Google to develop such a service.

This week Ford filed a patent that solves one of the key issues for an autonomous taxi service.

A passenger using a smartphone requests a pickup at her current location by sending GPS coordinates to an autonomous vehicle. The vehicle then navigates to the GPS coordinates. However, upon arrival at specified GPS coordinates, it may be difficult to identify a location of the target passenger with sufficient precision to actually pick the passenger up due to inaccuracies and imprecision provided GPS coordinates. This is one of the key issues for an autonomous taxi service.

According the patent, along with the GPS coordinates, the smartphone of the passenger also sends information about a pre-generated, pre-stored personal model of the passenger.

The personal model is generated according to a data gathering process in which a person sits and/or stands at multiple specified locations with respect to various sensors like lidar, camera and ultrasound.

So now, when a vehicle reaches near a passenger using the GPC coordinates, it uses various sensors like lidar, camera and ultrasound to scan the surroundings and compare the detected people with the personal model of the respective passenger.  If the comparison indicates a match within a predetermined degree of confidence, e.g., 90 percent confidence or higher, then, the vehicle navigates to a location very near, e.g., within one meter, three meters, etc., e.g., as close as possible permitted by safety considerations, road and/or sidewalk configurations, etc.

This technology paves the way for the launch of an autonomous taxi service and change the world.

Charge your phone with your hand

Patent number – US 9,362,783

A Korean research institute has patented a technology that allows mobile devices to be charged through human skin.

Users may now charge mobile phones while naturally holding and using them.

The technology uses ultrasound to carry power from a power source to the mobile device to be charged. An ultrasonic generator is used to convert energy into powerful sonic waves which are then conducted through the human skin and delivered to an ultrasonic receiver embedded in a mobile device.

In order to ensure quick charging, the technology controls the driving frequency of the ultrasound generator and matches impedance of transmitter, intermediate medium and receiver.

As a result, the wireless transmission of energy is done efficiently.

Forget solar power: Boeing wants to produce electricity from airport noise

Patent number – US 9,359,997

Airports generate a great deal of noise during aircraft take-offs and landings. As of now, this acoustic energy is left to dissipate and represents a lost energy resource.  It also causes noise pollution in the area.

Boeing has developed a system for generating electricity from the acoustic energy from an aircraft on a runway.

Acoustic wave collectors are mounted along the runway to collect the acoustic energy and direct the collected acoustic energy to an associated acoustic converter assembly. A vibrating element within the acoustic converter assembly moves in response to the acoustic energy. This movement draws air into the housing below the vibrating element and then forces the air downward to form an output air flow. The output air flow is directed to an associated turbine assembly to cause a shaft to rotate at a rate proportional to the magnitude of the received output air flow. An associated generator that is coupled to the shaft generates electricity proportionally to the rate of rotation of the shaft.

The generated electricity may be used to light up the runways.

Amazon patents human conversation

Patent number – US 9,363,104


Amazon has patented a system that monitors user behavior, using a smartphone, to determine patterns of communication behavior in various situations. For example, patterns of communication include user behavior when replying to coworkers or user behavior when replying to spouse.

After detecting multiple occurrences of a type of communication in a particular situation, the system defines a pattern of behavior in that type of situation. Thereafter, when the smartphone is subsequently in that type of situation again, the smartphone prompts a user to perform an action corresponding to the pattern of behavior. For example, if a user makes a call each weekday when within a given distance of a geographical location, such as within a mile from a workplace, the device can prompt the user whether the device should initiate that call or text the next time the computing device is in that location.

While detecting patterns, the system also generates a set of speech models each type of recipient. Each speech model can include language that is consistent with patterns of speech typically used between a user and a type of recipient. For example, a user might use different words and phrasing when communicating with spouse than when communicating with a co-worker.

This ability to automatically generate communications according to various patterns of speech, for various recipients provides various advantages over conventional communication approaches. For example, when generating an email to a contact labeled as a business contact, the speech engine uses a business contact speech profile built partly by mining data from past business communications. The language contained in the business speech profile would likely be more conservative and professional as compared to the language contained in the friend speech profile.

In a short while, the smartphone will learn all communication patterns of a user. Using text to speech technology, the system can also “verbally” reply to many phone calls.  Effectively, the system automates a large part of human conversation.