Monthly Archives: May 2015

Apple could lead the Virtual Reality competition with its recent acquisition

Apple could lead the Virtual Reality competition with its recent acquisition of an AR Company Metaio

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Techcrunch reported that Apple had acquired Metaio, an Augmented Reality (AR) company.  According to the report, Metaio currently has a large community of developers, customers and users.  I conducted a preliminary patent search with AN/metaio and discovered something interesting.  The following screen capture is via our Chrome add-on extension Petapator:

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Metaio has 21 US patents.  Among all the inventors, Peter Meier, CTO and one of the founders of Metaio, has the highest number of patents under AN/metaio.

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It is clear that Mr. Meier is a thought-leader in the field of AR and VR; however, it is yet to see if Mr. Meier would join Apple after the acquisition.

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By browsing through the abstracts of these patents, I spotted 8,382,285 and 8,113,657 that describe “device and method for determining the orientation of an eye”.  These could potentially be extended from augment reality applications to virtual reality platforms.

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Apple was awarded US patent # 8,957,835 in February this year for a device that, similar to the concept of Samsung’s Gear VR, can be a Virtual Reality Headset.  In the patent description section, it outlines how the device could have an iPhone inserted into it worn on the user’s head.  Comparing to other VR headset concepts, Apple includes a remote control that allows the user to interact the content on the iPhone screen.

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With the acquisition of Metaio, Apple could leverage the augmented reality innovations to accelerate its in-house virtual reality researches and developments.  Virtual Reality will be the next battle field among the tech giants like Google, Facebook, Samsung and Apple.  In the next 24 months, it surely will be an exciting time to follow this trend.

If you are interested to try out the patent search tool that I used, please visit www.petapator.com.

Oculus Rift is cool, but what Nielsen works on could be more amazing!

Oculus Rift is cool, but what Nielsen works on could be more amazing!

The Facebook’s $2 billion acquisition of Oculus last year is an example of how hot the Virtual Reality field is. I decided to do a quick patent search related to Virtual Reality Headset on the USPTO site with Petapator.

There are 35 patents under TTL/”Virtual Reality” and Headset. With no surprise, Oculus VR Inc. is one of the Assignees (US D701,206).

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While I was browsing through the list of patents, I spotted the patents from The Nielsen Company. I wondered what a market research company like Nielsen had to do with Virtual Reality Headset, so I browsed further using number of the built-in Petapator tools right on my browser.

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In Oct 2013, Nielsen filed a patent (8,548,852) on the “Effective Virtual Reality Environments for Presentation of Marketing Materials”. In the Abstract, it described the environment could input “in-store virtual reality environments such as supermarket aisles, store shelves, cooler displays, etc.”.

Given Nielsen is a company trying to understand “What People Watch, Listen To and Buy”, I can start to understand why Nielsen wants to invest in Virtual Reality. Today in order to understand the consumers’ preferences in the real shopping environment, Nielsen probably would have to set up expensive in-field tests. With Virtual Reality, Nielsen could set up a Virtual Shop to test the consumers’ feedback in this mock shopping experience.

I further browsed the patent list. As you can see in the next picture, the Word Cloud tool showed some interesting insights on the patent 8,392,250 – “related time-frequency analysis”, “collecting neuro-response”, “memory retention”. If Nielsen is able to create a Virtual Shop to show a market research test subject the suggested shop front display and simultaneously measure the neuro feedback from the test subject, this could be a game-changing innovation.

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Then I did another quick search on USPTO with Petapator: AN/”nielsen company” AND “virtual reality”. Nielsen actually had started filing Virtual Reality related patents back in 2008!

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The Facebook’s Oculus Rift certainly has generated lots of buzz and many media coverage. However, we should not underestimate the applicability of Virtual Reality in other fields as shown in this example.

If you are interested to try out Petapator, please visit www.petapator.com

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Google’s “Creepy Toy” could be more powerful than you think.

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Google has looked into making Internet-Connected toys to control home appliance.  It recently published a patent that describes devices (or toys) that would turn their heads towards users and listen to what they were saying, before sending commands to remote servers.  I looked into this patent and used Petapator to search more related information.

By searching the USPTO database using Petapator, I quickly discovered that one of the inventors, Aminzade, had 3 previous patent filings with Google Inc. as Assignee.

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Among these 3 previous patents by Aminzade, I found the recent patent “Mobile computing device and wearable computing device having automatic access mode control” to be the most interesting.

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US8976965 – As the wearable computing device being within a defined distance threshold with the mobile computing device, the mobile computing device would grant the user with security access for certain function.

I also performed a boarder search on “AN/google AND toy”.  Among the 69 patents published, the top inventors were Desai, Munjal, Steelberg and Ryan.   And interestingly the highest number of the patents related the “Google” AND “toy” were filed back in 2012.

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As I quickly browsed through the figures of these 69 patents, I can certainly appreciate the researchers at Google are trying to develop a more human-friendly device interfaces:

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With so many related technologies in-house, Google’s “creepy toy” could become more functional and powerful in the near future.  If you are interested to learn more about these patents, I suggest you to search on the Inventors that I mentioned earlier in this blog post.  To try out the Petapator tool that I use for patent search, please visit Chrome Web Store for Petapator.