Patents for Travelers...Some Strange Inventions

Posted by Robb Evans on Wednesday, December 28, 2011 at 9:50 AM

Doing a lot of traveling this holiday season? Perhaps these patents can help make the trip a bit more bearable…Airplane Moisturizer- This uniquely designed mask contains paper inserts that collect the dampness in your breath as you exhale, releasing that moisture back to you as you inhale.  Make sure you pop a mint before using, and remember that it may deter the other passengers from engaging in friendly conversation with you.Travel Washing Machine – Hate that dirty laundry buildup that c…

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Kappos Reflects on 2011 - A Successful Year for Patents

Posted by Robb Evans on Thursday, December 22, 2011 at 3:20 PM

In his public blog for the USPTO, David Kappos takes a look back at the accomplishments of 2011.  Having had a 5% increase in patent applications over the past year, the USPTO still managed to reduce the backlog of unexamined applications to roughly 665,000 and hopes to continue doing so into the new year. Kappos reflects on several of the USPTO’s newer programs, including the Green Technology Pilot Program, under which applications pertaining to green technologies may be advanced out of tur…

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Amazon "Stalking" Patent Causes Controversy

Posted by Robb Evans on Thursday, December 15, 2011 at 1:35 PM

Recently, Amazon was granted a “stalking” patent for their mobile device submitted back in 2007. The technology is designed to track your movements and make predictions about where you are going to go next.  The system then sends announcements for shops, restaurants, etc. that it thinks you are about to pass.While the technology is somewhat controversial, it could be just what retailers need to boost themselves back up in the economy.  Businesses will be able to work with the system to…

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Snow Doubt about It...These Patents are Crazy

Posted by Robb Evans on Thursday, December 8, 2011 at 1:15 PM

Now that winter is here, it might be fun to review some of the snow-inspired patents that our great country has been blessed with over the years.  Whether you live where snow is plentiful or mostly absent, these patents are sure to spark your interest.The Sno Moto – A standing snow mobile that nestles right between a person’s legs.  A gas-powered motor wrapped in a mini-bulldozer track attaches to the back of a pair of skis, and powers a person through the snow.  All you have to d…

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Shoe Designed to Generate Electricity

Posted by Robb Evans on Tuesday, December 6, 2011 at 10:15 AM

Recently, University of Wisconsin engineer, Tom Krupenkin, has designed a shoe capable of generating electricity.  In a process called reverse electrowetting, two plastic bladders are filled with an oil & water mixture. The bladder under the heel of the shoe is connected to the one under the toe by a thin tube, so that when you step down on the heel, the rear bladder is compressed and the liquid travels through the tube to the front bladder.  When you step on the toe, the liquid travels b…

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Former Apple Exec. Builds a New Nest

Posted by Robb Evans on Wednesday, November 30, 2011 at 11:58 AM

Former Apple executive Tony Fadell, has taken a slight turn from his previous iPod division days and hoisted the original thermostat to a new level.  Created in 1953 by Henry Dreyfuss, the famous T-86 Round (and others like it) is boring, clunky, and out-dated.  Even the more modern, box thermostats aren’t worth getting excited about.  Enter, the Nest. Fadell's new, circular, creative thermostat comes equipped with a color-changing LCD screen that adjusts its look with the tem…

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Collegiate Inventors Competition 2011

Posted by Robb Evans on Monday, November 28, 2011 at 11:50 AM

Recently, the winners of the annual Collegiate Inventors Competition were announced.  Started by the non-profit organization Invent Now in 1990, the competition recognizes, rewards, and encourages students in their exploration of invention, science, technology, and more.  Twelve finalists are invited to Washington D.C. each year in order to present their work to an expert panel of judges, and a graduate and an undergraduate winner is chosen. This year, the graduate first-prize winner of $15,0…

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Keep Warm this Winter with These Unusual Patents

Posted by Robb Evans on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at 10:50 AM

Winter’s here and everybody’s looking for ways to keep warm.  You could curl up under a blanket, wrap up in multiple layers, or you could give one of these unique patents a try…Camp Comfort – It’s never too cold to go camping, especially when you’ve got this handy device with you.  This mattress has rubber tubing running through its foam padding and is hooked up to an enclosed water container.  Folding reflectors in the container channel heat straight to y…

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Computer Science and Innovation

Posted by Robb Evans on Friday, November 11, 2011 at 2:00 PM

Alan Turing is often credited as the founder of computer science.  A highly intelligent and innovative man, he created the Turing Machine, and later one of the first designs for a stored-program computer, the ACE.  Whether or not he is the true father of computers, however, is now up for debate. Recently, a British research team posed the question, “Did an eccentric mathematician named Charles Babbage conceive of the first programmable computer in the 1830s, a hundred years before …

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For the Love of ... Patents?

Posted by Robb Evans on Monday, November 7, 2011 at 3:00 PM

Think you’ve found that someone special?  Valentines Day is still a ways away, but these inventors obviously have love on the brain.  Here are a few of their strange creations that someone at the patent office took to heart:Use of Odorants to Treat Male Impotence- This patent provides an alternative to Viagra.  All you have to do is smell certain combinations of odors to increase blood flow in certain parts of the male anatomy.  The inventor lists these scents- lavender & pumpk…

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The Heart of All Patents

Posted by Robb Evans on Thursday, November 3, 2011 at 1:43 PM

Dr. Robert Jarvik is best known as the inventor of the first permanent artificial heart.  Patented on November 13, 1979 his design paved the way for future medical devices.   As a teenager, Jarvik showed great mechanical aptitude by inventing small medical tools like a surgical stapler.  He continued as a student at theUniversityofUtah, but it wasn’t until his father’s diagnosis of heart disease that Jarvik really showed interest in modern medicine.  Seeing his father undergo open h…

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You Won't See These Patents on the Runway...

Posted by Robb Evans on Tuesday, November 1, 2011 at 12:30 PM

 It’s likely that all of us have made a fashion mistake here or there, but these inventors have taken the notion of a fashion faux pas to the next level:Angel Ears – When regular earrings and plugs don’t quite cut it, these colorful pieces can add some pizzazz to any wardrobe.  These accessories are simulated bird wings for your ears and come in a variety of bright colors. Big Hair Hat- Issued in 1962, this patent is a rigid, plastic shower cap made for humungous hairdos.&nb…

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Top American Cities in Innovation

Posted by Robb Evans on Friday, October 28, 2011 at 2:00 PM

The U.S. has the most cities considered top-tier innovators.  You may think you’ve heard it all when it comes to Silicon Valley, but a couple of these other up-and-comers might surprise you.Silicon Valley (San Jose), California– Home to some of the world’s largest tech companies like Google, Apple, and Cisco, Silicon Valley tops the charts when it comes to innovation.  In 2010, more than 16,300 patents originated in the San Jose and San Francisco areas.  Further, the area ha…

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Whoa, Baby! Check Out These Patents.

Posted by Robb Evans on Monday, October 24, 2011 at 1:30 PM

Whether you have kids of your own or not, you may be interested in seeing some of the stranger ways that people are parenting these days.  Take, for example, this newly patented practice of bringing your baby into the world:Apparatus for Facilitating the Birth of a Child by Centrifugal Force – This one is probably causing a lot of controversy- a table to which an expectant mother is strapped and then spun upon.  The idea is that the centrifugal force will encourage the baby to emerge. O…

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The Future of 3D Printing & Patent Law

Posted by Robb Evans on Thursday, October 20, 2011 at 5:00 PM

3D printers capable of outputting physical objects have been in development for over two decades.  The first commercial 3D printer was based on a technique called stereolithography, a concept invented by Charles Hull in 1984.Already, 3D printing has been refined to the point where digital models can be duplicated into physical prototypes, and prices of 3D printers have declined substantially in the past five years, to as low as $1,000 from $400,000.As a result, industries of all kinds have embraced 3D …

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