Monday 9 November 2009

Microsoft Research 2009 human body power patent application published again

In 2004 one of my Microsoft patents was awarded for "Method and Apparatus for transmitting power and data using the human body"

Explained in this article in The Guardian  2004,
  "Computerising the body: Microsoft wins patent to exploit  network potential of skin" as here
In simple words our design (Williams, Vablais and Bathiche*) was to allow devices like headphones for your Ipod be attached to the ears without using wires or batteries in the earpiece. It is also useful for medical sensors to be attached to the body without wires.  I heard after I left Microsoft that the US military were also very interested in using this technology for their soldiers. The prototype I built and tested on my daughter in 2000 allowed audible music tones to be transmitted to a loudspeaker on her skin when I touched her, no batteries or wires on her.


It is interesting that Microsoft's lawyers  are still working on this technology 9 years after it was first prototyped as  patent has additional wider claims published July 2009, example as below.

From the US Patent Office Patent application published July 2009

Claim 1 "
 A system that facilitates reduction of wiring in connection with networking portable devices, comprising:a plurality of devices that are electrically networked together via a human body, which serves as a transmission medium for at least a subset of the devices."

Will Microsoft license this technology?

*Steve Bathiche was one of the inventors of the  Microsoft Surface computer.

 Drawing above  done by Microsoft's lawyers for the patent.

Friday 6 November 2009

Prototype wireless sensing camera

Here is Girton Labs's  working prototype wireless sensing camera , transmits encrypted wireless images to a PC, lasts 1 year on small lithium cell, first application is for Assisted Living, i.e. those who live on their own. Captures and compresses all interesting daily images. Every room could have one. Should be reasonably to have it button sized, (one shown is a working  proof of concept).  Imagine it being like nerves all over your home, caring for you. Thermal images are scanned and compressed for interesting events in the home, people, doors opening and closing, fridge activity,  cookers left on, radiators, fires,  tv on/off. Useful also for energy management, can see heat from appliances switched on and wastage. Alternative version send text messages to cell phone on events. Could also send messages/images  to Twitter. Other versions of camera can transmit normal wide angle images.
Current prototype sends colour thermal images to PC.

Frequently Asked Questions.
Q. How is this different from  SenseCam that you designed for Microsoft?
A. It uses a totally different method of sensing, patent filed,  and so is new Intellectual Property.
Q. How else is different from the first sensecam?
A.   I designed SenseCam   for people with very severe memory problems. A person with Alzheimer's is forgetful and might mislay  the camera and all of the day's recorded  memory, this camera  transmits data to a central server or PC. As camera has radio transmitter it can also be located by it's signal  if lost, e.g. hidden under a cushion. There is no  limit  to number of images as transmitted to a large server.
The camera can be worn or fixed on ceiling of room.
Q. How do you get such long battery life?
A. Innovation adaptive clock technology, based on how mammals conserve power. Details available on signing of NDA.
Q. When is it available ?
A. Currently due for delivery to first customer this year.

Designed and built by Lyndsay Williams
More info

Image shows test thermal map