Solar Aesthetics

FedInvent Patents for November 2, 2021

Greetings from FedInvent,

On Tuesday, November 2, 2021, the US Patent and Trademark Office granted 6,791 new patents. One-hundred-fifteen (115) of those patents benefitted from taxpayer funding. These inventions are what your tax dollars helped pay for this week. It was a slow week on the federal patent front. 

Tuesday's highlights include:

  • Solar Aesthetics

  • Cybersecurity Checklist Fatigue

  • Quantum Antennas from Colorado

  • A Trio of Life Saving Inventions 

  • The TSA Locks Are Patented

  • And the Numbers

If you read FedInvent for the data, the FedInvent Patent Report is available here.

The Patent Details page organized by Department is here.

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Solar Aesthetics — Read This Patent

One of the words not usually associated with solar panels is beautiful. The energy they create is beautiful. The visual appearance of the panels themselves? Not so much. Solar panels are so ugly homeowner associations have tried to prevent them from being installed simply for their boxy, metal, industrial appearance alone. A solar panel's lack of visually appealing design probably hinders adoption. Solar farms are just as bad—row after row of unattractive square grids of shiny rectangular shiny things.  

Today the NY Times reported that one of the issues impeding the acceptance of new solar projects in rural areas, the areas with enough flat land to support new solar projects, is local residents' concerns that these installations will destroy their bucolic vistas. Hiding them in rural areas or out in the desert doesn't disguise their objectionable look. Maybe improving the visual elements of solar panels will improve adoption rates. (The fake pine tree material on cellular and microwave towers is another unsuccessful attempt to improve the look of US critical infrastructure.)

Sistine Solar aims to change that by giving solar panels a new look. Sistine Solar received US Patent 11161369, "Graphic Layers and Related Methods for Incorporation of Graphic Layers Into Solar Modules." Or, in non-patent speak, a Solar Skin. Skins are cosmetic add-ons or special pictures or designs according to the Patent Office. The solar invention can be deployed on any solar panel array — residential roofs, corporate roofs, facades, and panels at solar farms to enable the technology to blend into the scenery and protect those pastoral views.

Sistine Solar's website notes that its patented technology is an "overlay that can be applied to any traditional solar array to transform its visual appearance. It is 100% customizable, able to feature logos, imagery, text, and custom artwork in an unparalleled range of colors. The technology employs selective light filtration to simultaneously display a vibrant image and transmit sunlight to the underlying solar array preserving up to 99% of a project's energy generation."  

According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), only 2.3% of US energy is generated from solar. There are about 1.47 million solar panels installed in the US now. The average US residential solar installation is about 5KW, or around 20 panels. The coming explosive growth in renewable energy bodes well for Sistine Solar. 

Americans love skins. During discovery in the EPIC Games v. Apple case, Epic revealed that it sold 3.3 million NFL-branded skins during their run in November and December. Those skins were 1,500 V-bucks each, about $15 if you're not accounting for bundles, so that's around $50 million from a single set of skins. (This is probably part of the reason Epic doesn't want to cough up 30% of their in-app sales to Apple as well.). The global mobile phone protective case (skins) market is growing proficiently, projected to grow at a CAGR of 6.5% during the expected period from 2020 to 2028, starting from $21.36 billion in 2019.  

Yesterday was Election Day. Here is one of the "drawings" from Sistine Solar's newly granted patent.

Let's hope solar skins don't turn solar-equipped roofs and solar farms into an electronic billboard.


Curing Cybersecurity Checklist Fatigue (A Little)

The word DOD STIG (Security Technical Implementation Guide) sews fear in the hearts of military and civilian cybersecurity professionals. Every federal contractor, including those on the FedInvent Bayh-Dole Scofflaw List, knows all too well the challenges of being DOD STIG compliant. What's a STIG? According to the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), STIGs "are the configuration standards for DOD information assurance (IA) and IA-enabled devices/systems. The STIGs contain technical guidance to 'lock down' information systems/software that might otherwise be vulnerable to a malicious computer attack. The Unclassified list of STIGs has 728 entries. The Windows 10 STIG has 286 different parameters and requirements to configure a compliant version of an instance of Windows 10. STIGs are essentially sophisticated checklists for configuring the most minute details of information technology. The STIG is an essential element in an increasingly complex system of controls and risk management frameworks used to protect critical information and communications infrastructure.

The Naval Information Warfare Center received US Patent 11163890, "Self-Targeting Methods of Automated Cybersecurity Analysis On An Operating System." The Navy has created a tool to conduct automated analysis of the state of the operating system and then present it back to the analyst in the STIG checklist format so that security engineers can figure out their cybersecurity posture quickly. The Cybersecurity Community salutes you.

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Quantum Computing Infrastructure

Patent 11165505, "Quantum atomic receiving antenna and quantum sensing of radiofrequency radiation," comes from the National Institute of Standards and Technology. It is a fascinating advancement in quantum science. The patent describes an invention that is more of a sensor of optically excited atoms rather than a conventional radio frequency (RF) antenna. The invention details an ability to detect RF radiation strength, direction, and polarization in a range from hundreds of megahertz (MHz) through terahertz (THz) frequencies. To put quantum technology in perspective, megahertz are millions of cycles per second, while terahertz are trillions of cycles in a second in the RF spectrum between microwaves and infrared light.  

NIST is working on some of the seminal technology infrastructure that will make quantum information systems a reality. The inventors work at NIST's Boulder Colorado scientific lab.

Three Inventions To Save Lives

Fake Pharma

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) received patent 11162892, "Device and method for detection of counterfeit pharmaceuticals." The patent's summary and background of the invention describe how the proliferation of counterfeit drugs has become an international public health issue in developing countries due to a lack of resources to monitor drug quality. This invention incorporates a less expensive and sophisticated method than other drug detection processes built into a portable device for drug inspections in the field or at customs inspection points. 

On the Battlefield

It's unusual for patents to discuss prior art going back to the Civil War. This week the Navy was granted US Patent 11160576, "Amputation System for Field Use," an amputation system for limbs or extremities for use in non-surgical field settings. The field setting is the battlefield. This amputation system can perform a quick and clean severing of a damaged extremity or limb to reduce the trauma level experienced by a patient. Gruesome as this may seem, this invention will save lives when time is of the essence.

After The Battlefield

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, more than 6,000 veterans have killed themselves each year since 2008. Sixty-seven percent (67%) of all veteran deaths by suicide were the result of firearm injuries. The Veteran's Health Administration provides gun safety locks to all veterans at no cost. The gun safety lock effectively secured to the gun prevents the gun from firing, thereby providing a means restriction to deter suicide. However, a suicidal individual may have immediate access to a key to the gun safety lock, thereby circumventing the lock's effectiveness as a suicide prevention means.

The Department of Veterans Affairs and the University of Pittsburgh have invented a simple and effective way to help prevent suicide, a device for preventing immediate access to the key to a gun safety lock (11161684). The invention is a container filled with a fusible liquid (water). The water is frozen and forms a body around the object. The container may include photographs, quick response codes, and telephone numbers for suicide prevention hotlines to help someone in distress. The invention also slows down someone in distress. According to the patent, the container will contain an amount of water that, when frozen, will not melt in less than five minutes when subjected to a temperature of 100 degrees. Celsius, 212 degrees Fahrenheit. This invention buys time for a better outcome.

The TSA Luggage Locks Are Patented

On August 27, 2021, we wrote about a patent application for electronic baggage locks from two inventors working at the Department of Homeland Security. It presented a novel solution for keeping your baggage locked but still providing TSA with a way to access your luggage for a security screening if needed. On Tuesday, USPTO granted patent 11161626. So now, who will license it?


Bayh-Dole Scofflaws

On Tuesday, we had one Bayh-Dole scofflaw — BAE Systems Information and Electronic Systems Integration Inc. in Nashua, New Hampshire. One of the usual defense and intelligence complex firms. BAE received US Patent 11165213, "Ultra-fast and stable method to change the divergence of a laser beam." USPTO classified it as "Devices Using the Process of Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation [LASER] to Amplify or Generate Light; Devices Using Stimulated Emission of Electromagnetic Radiation in Wave Ranges Other Than Optical." Lasers on satellites. Pick the DOD agency with satellites as the funder of this one.

We are curious about the "steps required for aligning a laser-corn receiving system with a transmitting node." It looks like a correction will be forthcoming.

Patents By The Numbers

On Tuesday, November 2, 2021, the US Patent and Trademark Office granted 6,791 new patents. One-hundred-fifteen (115) of those patents benefitted from taxpayer funding. A slow week on the federal patent front.

Here are the numbers for these taxpayer-funded patents:

  • 109 patents have Government Interest Statements.

  • 25 have an applicant or an assignee that is a government agency.

  • The 115 patents have 135 department-level funding citations.

  • These patents are the work of 428 inventors.

  • The 409 American inventors come from 34 states and the District of Columbia.

  • California has 21 first-named inventors and 86 total inventors. 

  • New York has 10 first-named inventors and 37 total inventors. Massachusetts has 8 first-named inventors and 39 total inventors.  

  • 19 foreign inventors come from 8 countries.

  • There are 67 patents (58%) where at least one assignee is a college or university, the HERD.

  • Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDCs) received 6 patents.

  • A federal department is one of the assignees on 20 patents.

  • 6 patents have Y CPC classifications indicating that USPTO believes the invention may be useful in helping to mitigate the impact of climate change.

Patent Count By Department

Patent Count By Technology Center

The Heath Complex

The chart below reflects patents indicating funding from the Department of Health and Human Services or one of its subagencies or institutes at the National Institutes of Health.

That's this week's FedInvent patents update. Please explore the FedInvent Patents Report as there are many more interesting inventions than we could jam into a newsletter. 

If you'd like to catch up on earlier FedInvent Reports, you can access the newsletters here on Substack. In addition, the reports are available on the FedInvent Links page.

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Thanks for reading FedInvent. We'll see you Thursday for the latest on taxpayer-funded patents, new patent applications, and the latest on the federal innovation ecosphere. 

The FedInvent Team 

About FedInvent 

FedInvent tells the stories of inventors, investigators, and innovators. Wayfinder Digital's FedInvent Project follows the federal innovation ecosphere, taxpayer money, and the inventions it pays for.