A Wearable Robot

New Inventions from the Federal Innovation Ecosphere on Tuesday August 24, 2021

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This Tuesday, FedInvent analyzed 141 newly granted patents that benefited from taxpayer funding.

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On Tuesday,  the newly granted patents included several novel medical devices.  There are innovative drug delivery methods. One invention uses magnetic stimulation of the spinal cord to restore control of the bladder and bowel (11097122) to a patient with a spinal injury. 

The US Army Medical Research and Materiel Command (USAMRMC) and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) funded research and development at the University of Florida.  The University of Florida invented a new synthetic biology method of treating inflammatory diseases like ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease.  It involves using an orally administered therapeutically effective amount of a recombinant lactic acid bacterium (11098088). The Navy invented a new approach for making fuel (11097995).    

If you want to start with this week’s analysis you can access the FedInvent Patent Report here.

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Walking With A Wearable Robot — Read This Patent

This week Ekso Bionics, Inc. and the University of California Berkeley were granted  11096854, "Human machine interfaces for lower extremity orthotics."  This patent is for a mechanized exoskeleton, a wearable robot, that can predict its user's next move. A lower extremity orthotic control system determines a movement desired by a user.  It automatically regulates the sequential operation of powered lower extremity orthotic components, the wearable robot. The user’s upper body gestures or other signals are used to convey their intent to the system. This enables people with mobility disorders to walk, and perform other common mobility tasks that involve leg movements.  

Ekso Bionics builds exoskeletons to augment human strength, endurance, and mobility. Ekso Bionics’ helps survivors of stroke, spinal cord injury, and other forms of lower extremity weakness to walk again.  

The leading cause of paralysis was stroke (33.7 percent), followed by spinal cord injury (27.3 percent). Ekso Bionics invention seeks to address both types of paralysis.  

Spinal Cord Injury Statistics

This work was funded by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Robotics for Small and Medium Size Businesses

The Johns Hopkins University received 11097415. This is invention is for a robotic graphical user interface (RGUI) that makes reconfiguring manufacturing robots easier.

Robotic automation in large-scale manufacturing operations is widely used and highly successful. The same benefits have not flowed down to small and medium-sized manufacturing enterprises (SMEs). SMEs have small production volumes or have a high level of product variation requiring different robot configurations for different work. The ability to amortize the robot infrastructure, the need for specialized personnel, costs associated with setting up and programming for robotic automation make the implementation of robotic automation less effective for SMEs. Johns Hopkins invented a Robotic Graphical User Interface (RGUI) that makes integrating robots and configuring robotic automation for SMEs by overcoming these issues.

Johns Hopkins created an RGUI that supports easy-to-install or hot-swappable robotic peripherals, such as sensors, end effectors, tooling, and other peripherals. The system recognizes the new peripheral by a peripheral identifier, obtains a robotic configuration of one or more robots, detects changes in the robotic configuration, updates the robotic properties of the robots based on changes in the robotic configuration. The RGUI provides interfaces for users to interact with or program the robots.  The GUI-based robotic programming platform provides for seamless swapping of robotic hardware and software modules on the robotic systems, with minimal to no requirement for integrating software programs or drivers that operate the robotic modules. The RGUI allows users to interact with and control the robotic modules making these systems more usable and more cost-effective for smaller and medium-sized businesses.    

This work was funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) National Robotics Initiative (NRI).

The Bayh-Dole Scofflaws

Each week we look at patents and patent applications where the assignee hasn’t identified the contract that provided the funding that resulted in the patent. These assignees cite that the government has rights to the invention. That’s all you get. So we dig deeper.  

The most prolific Bayh-Dole scofflaw this year remains Raytheon and its jet engine-building subsidiaries.  We haven’t had a Tuesday or Thursday without at least one Raytheon patent or application that lacks the contract information.  (Raytheon has an impressive patent portfolio and a deep application pipeline.)

This week two patents from HRL Laboratory did not cite the contract that funded them. HRL Laboratories is a research center in Malibu, California. HRL is owned by General Motors Corporation and Boeing.

The first HRL Laboratory patent is 11101786. This invention of an HF-VHF quartz MEMS resonator is from a group of scientists from HRL’s Sensors and Materials Lab. Between publication by the inventors and information on contract awards, this work is probably funded by DARPA.

The second patent HRL patent, 11101991, "Practical reusable fuzzy extractor based on the learning-with-error assumption and random oracle," is for an invention that turns biometric data into a cryptographic key. A fingerprint scanner or iris scanner is used for obtaining biometric data. The data is turned into a cryptographic key using a random oracle. If you haven’t heard the non-scientific definition of how a random oracle works, here it is: 

  1. There is a black box. 

  2. In the box lives a gnome, with a big book and some dice.

  3. You can input some data into the box (an arbitrary sequence of bits).

  4. Given some input that the gnome did not see beforehand, the gnome uses his dice to generate a new output, uniformly and randomly, in some conventional space (the space of oracle outputs). 

  5. The gnome also writes down the input and the newly generated output in his book.

  6. If given an already seen input arrives in the box, the gnome uses his book to recover the output he returned the last time and then returns it again.

A random oracle is a kind of hash function. We know nothing about the output we could get for a given input message. 

The technology described in the patent aligns with the work done at the HRL Center for Secure and Resilient Systems (CSRS). CSRS develops "novel tools and techniques for creation and analysis of complex systems capable of maintaining their functionality even in unpredictable adversarial environments."  Their secure biometrics work includes developing algorithms and software to demonstrate a new provably secure, practical, cryptographic approach that utilizes biometrics to identify and authenticate individuals.  

This work was funded by IARPA.  The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity is an organization within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence responsible for leading research to overcome difficult challenges relevant to the United States Intelligence Community.

Birth Control for Your Cow

The University of Wisconsin added a new method of bovine birth control this week.  Patent 11096382, "Methods and compositions for determining bovine ovulation rate," is a way to develop a breeding scheme for your bovine.  For dairy cattle, cows having multiple births generally produce lower quantities of milk for shorter periods than cows having a single calf.  Multiple births of calves in beef cattle are desirable. Using this invention funded by the USDA farmers can make a plan.

For those of you who are cruciverbalists, crossword puzzle doers, the word for the birth of multiple calves in one event is twinning. 


Chemical Warfare Agents Cleanup

This week two patents deal with the hard job of cleaning up chemical warfare agents. Vapors of chemical warfare agents (CWA) pose a lethal threat to anyone exposed to them, yet the mitigation of that threat through the use of protective yet breathable garments presents a severe engineering challenge. The Army has a solution.

The Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (CCDC) received 11097261, "Single-threaded composite fibers and yarns for the degradation of and protection against toxic chemicals and biological agents." These yarns capture and degrade toxic chemical and biological agents. The fiber is used to make yarns, textiles, protective garments, filtration materials, and decontamination wipes.

The disposal of chemical warfare agents also presents a significant challenge. This week Southwest Research Institute earned a patent for its novel approach to solving the problem.  Southwest Research Institute received 11098260, "Chemical warfare agents and related compounds as fuel for internal combustion engines." This invention uses chemical warfare agents or other compounds like pesticides as fuel for an internal combustion engine. The chemical warfare agent (CWA) is introduced into the combustion chamber of the internal combustion engine (ICE). The ICE compresses the agent igniting and burning the CWA. The fuels may include one or more CWAs, in combination with a hydrocarbon fuel such as gasoline, diesel, etc. The invention describes how to scrub the exhaust from this process. After scrubbing, the content of exhaust gases may be reduced to levels below the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards for those acid gases. This work was funded by DARPA.

Electronic Phenotyping

Chronic kidney disease is a common and complex disease affecting approximately 26 million American adults. The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (ISMMS) in New York has taken a digital approach to diagnosing Chronic Kidney Disease using electronic phenotyping.  Here electronic phenotyping is the process of finding a set of observable characteristics or traits that indicate the presence of a condition using patient electronic medical records.

Their newly granted patent, 11101021, "Electronic phenotyping technique for diagnosing chronic kidney disease," Electronic medical records (EMR) provide a variety of clinical data collected during routine clinical care encounters. EMR can contain a collection of longitudinal phenotypic data, information found over time. That data offers valuable information for discovering clinical populations that can potentially be used in association studies in medical research and in the prediction of outcomes of patient care. 

Electronic medical records contain a vast store of data about patients and their medical visits (encounters). Patient data that is routinely collected data includes systolic blood pressure (SBP), low-density lipoproteins (LDL), high-density lipoproteins (HDL), triglycerides, hemoglobin A1C marker for diabetes and diabetes blood glucose control, and estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR; a marker of kidney function) enable researchers to identify patients with chronic kidney disease. This digital research approach can help medical researchers find patient populations faster and better understand how this routine data can indicate health outcomes.

This research was funded by the National Institutes of Health National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI).

Patents By The Numbers On August 24, 2021

This week FedInvent analyzed 141 patents. We found 132 patents that contain government interest statements. Thirty-two (32) cite a federal government agency as an assignee or as the applicant. 

These 141 patents have 495 inventors. Four hundred seventy-two (472) US inventors are from 36 states. The 23 foreign inventors are from 14 countries. Seventy-six (76) inventions had one or more universities or colleges as assignees.



The Innovation Agenda

This week two new funding opportunities for innovative research caught our eye. The first is from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). DARPA released a Request for Information (RFI) in mid-August 2021 seeking a Wing-in-Ground (WIG) cargo aircraft for the US military. DARPA is looking for a plane that flies over a surface — land or the ocean. The plane gains support from the reaction of the air against the surface of the earth or water to lift the bottom of the wings. A WIG plane is a very low-flying hoverplane. A hoverplane can skim over rough seas and yet stay low enough on the horizon for tactical and potential radar and missile evading purposes. You can read the details from Naval News here.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) released a Request for Information for new research on Biologically Templated Nanofabrication. Nanofabrication is the design and manufacture of products and structures with dimensions measured in nanometers. You can read the RFI and submission requirements here.

Thanks for reading the FedInvent Patent Newsletter.  See you Thursday.

The team at FedInvent 

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About FedInvent 

Wayfinder Digital's FedInvent Project follows the federal innovation ecosphere from Federal R&D to taxpayer-funded patents to the US economy and beyond. We follow the taxpayer money and the inventions.