Imagine the following – Futuristic hospital birth room, full with advanced extraordinary equipment. On a wide table in the center of the room lies the woman who is about to give birth, her legs spread. The doctor presses a button, the table lifts up and start rotating around its own axis: starting out slow, and then faster and faster. The woman pushes and the crying baby shoots out of…. Well, you get the general idea of the story.
Sounds weird? far fetched? not to two american inventors: they registered a patent on a device to help women give birth using centrifugal force, in 1965. This specific invention did not manifest into a real device, I think we would hear about it if it did. but this invention is not the only one – In the following story a few interesting patents that never made it will be revealed.
Fractal Antenna Systems registered a patent in 2012 on a special kind of fabric that can ‘bend’ electro-magnetic waves and make them move around the body of the one who uses it, instead of bouncing off or be absorbed in it. According to a statement given to the press – the fabric is made of fractal shapes, which means same-shape patterns that repeats itself in different sizes and can make big objects seem ‘invisible’ for radiation in certain frequencies. As of now – the fractal fabric will only work with microwave radiation, but the company says this technology could be upgraded to work with visible light waves that will result in an invisible object for the human eyes.
So what prevents the company from actually making that fabric? Money, of course. In order to expand the fabric’s technology to the visible light-waves, a great deal of money needs to be invested, and Fractal Antenna Systems do not have any investors that are willing to invest that money. The patent was only registered to keep the idea from being copied or stolen – but also to gain the attention of potentioal investors. The president of the company said: “Give us a reason to develop this idea and take it forward.” – Maybe we should check with J.K Rowling.
One of the most desirable technologies (out of all the lasers and spaceships) seen on the sci-fi series ‘Star Trek’, is the ultra-realistic virtual reality environment – the Holodeck. In the holodeck you can not only see the objects around you but even touch them. Although the technological advancement of the last years, its improbable that we would get to work and play in such a sophisticated Environment in the next few years to come.
Microsoft does not fear to look straight into the future. in a patent that was approved on September 2012, Microsoft describes a display projection system that will allow to project visual graphics on all 4 walls of a room, even behind the television screen. This is not considered to be a simple setup projection like we know today – but a projector that will know how to blend the pictures into different colors and wall patterns in order to make them ‘disappear’ and by that – magnify the feeling of virtual reality. The special projector will be sophisticated enough to not project the image stright into the user eyes and by that – making him blind for a few seconds, One of the options in the patent even talks about using 3D glasses.
Even without the option to actually ‘touch’ projections like on the Holodeck, this is without any doubt a very ambitious patent, and Microsoft knows it. Microsoft wants to brand itself as a leading company in the console gaming market. The Xbox is always in competition against other consoles by Nintendo and Sony. Microsoft will, without any doubt, signal her clients that its gaming console will continue to be relevant and leading even in the future.
Apple was a pioneer in smartphones interface, but it has her own high ambitions as well. according to a patent received in march 2010, apple is planning to bring her revolutionary interface into less portable devices, like kitchen appliances.
The patent describes optical sensors that could recognize gestures on different surfaces like marble and glass. The special thing about the patent is that the touch will be recognized not only by a point on a plane but also by the pressure amount of that press: the sensors will measure the distortion made on the surface – If you press hard, you might set the temperature to be higher, etc. Apple says that the patent does not apply only to special surfaces but to regular surfaces as well.
The interesting part of this one is that the patent was first registered by a Canadian inventor named Timothy Pryor,mid 90’s, He passed apple this patent (probably for money) which completed the registering process. This brings up two interesting points – one, why our kitchen is not so sophisticated, even though its been over 15 years since Pryor applied for the patent. Its easy to register a patent, and anyone can do it – but to develop such technology – special skills and resources are required, something one man does not have access to.
Patents, are no longer a thing that protects inventors from copiers, Patents – as we seen – can be used as ‘weapons’ in business arguments, a tool to brand a company and be used as a good publicity stunt in order to attract new customers. This is why to the question – ‘will we see it soon?’ does not have much meaning, but lets just hope the bed in the birth-room is secured properly to the floor.