The Internet of Cameras

Taxpayer-Funded Patents for Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Good Evening from FedInvent,

On Tuesday, FedInvent analyzed 149 patents that had taxpayer funding. As usual, the Department of Health and Human Services retained its number one position on the FedInvent patent leaderboard.  The US Postal Service continued its run with three new patents. 

The FedInvent Patent Report has the details on the patents. 

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If you’d like to explore by agency, go straight to the FedInvent Patent Details Page.

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Here are a few highlights of what we found in this Tuesday’s patents.

The Internet of Cameras — READ THIS PATENT 

Sometimes we see an invention and the first reaction is, hasn’t someone done this already? Then a deeper dig reveals that the invention is novel.  Then you transition to "why didn’t I think of that" mode.  Purdue University’s networked camera finder is one of those inventions.

Purdue University received a grant from the Office of Advanced  Infrastructure at the National Science Foundation to figure out a way to automatically discover webpages that have camera data anywhere on the internet.  That led to US Patent 11113344, "Automated Discovery of Network Cameras in Heterogeneous Web Pages."   This invention delivers access to the data from thousands of live network cameras to study traffic, weather, human behavior, and security worldwide, visual big data.

The invention crawls the internet looking for the IP address of network cameras and the resource path associated with the data.  If they find a camera, they add it to the database.  If not, they skip it and keep moving.  

Public camera data sources are spread across websites from many organizations making access by the public challenging. To find public data, first, you use a search engine to identify websites that contain network camera data. Universities, regional transportation departments, news stations, and many other organizations in various localities and states have all deployed camera sensor networks.  Each of these organizations hosts the data on a different website preventing users from easily accessing all the relevant data at once. Data from network cameras, even cameras deployed across overlapping geographical areas, may be distributed across different websites.  The invention automatically indexes the data from these sites and creates a central live network camera data database.

Elegant in its simplicity and novel in its design.


Obvious in the Sky

When a turbo-scientific patent like this week’s battery technology patent from Apple (11114663) shows up or new patents with extensive organic chemistry and gene sequences show up, we ask for an explainer from the experts.  Not on this one.

This week Rockwell Collins received US patent 11111031 for Flight Control Management Using Touchscreen Interfaces.  This patent cites funding originating from the US Air Force KC-135 Avionics contract.

Usually, we spare you the patent geekery, but we're perplexed, so here we go. Here is the abstract for this avionics touchscreen invention:

A touchscreen fuel panel. In embodiments, the fuel panel includes a touchscreen display and a controller coupled to the touchscreen display. The controller is configured to generate a graphical user interface at the touchscreen display and receive user inputs via the touchscreen display. In embodiments, the graphical user interface includes a pump menu with at least one selectable icon for a set of engine boost pumps and a plurality of individually selectable icons for forward, center, and aft pumps. The controller is configured to receive a user input representing a user interaction with the graphical user interface (e.g., an icon selection) via the touchscreen display. The controller is further configured to generate one or more control signals for the set of engine boost pumps, at least one forward pump, at least one center pump, or at least one aft pump based on the user input.

The core aspects of the invention are a touch screen coupled with a controller and a graphical user interface with a bunch of icons.  It has icons for each of the engine boost fuel pumps, front, center, and aft.

We wanted to make sure we understood the timeframe for this invention.  This patent has a provisional patent application — App. No. 62/767,397 filed on November 14, 2018.  The non-provisional was filed October 3, 2019, and the patent was granted yesterday.  So their priority date is about November 2018.  (We leave the gory details of the exact priority date to the patent attorneys.) 

Eric Johnson invented the first touchpad in 1965. The application of touch technology for air traffic control was described in an article published in 1968.  On March 7, 2021, Apple introduced the iPad.  So touchscreens weren't novel at that point.  

This invention also supports:

  • Icons for each component.

  • Visual indicators that one of the components has a fault.

  • Render the component with a fault in color.

  • Use colors to indicate what's going on. The patent says it uses — "a first color (such as green) when refueling, a second color (such as blue) when draining, and a third color (such as magenta) when fuel is directed to the engine.

  • Gloves might be required in certain circumstances to enable the user to use the touchscreen. 

(You mean like those gloves you buy at Costco so you can use your smartphone touch screen in the winter? Probably not.  Probably  expensive aircrew gloves.)

There's no argument that a touchscreen might be a nice improvement of the current electronics. But touchscreen controls are not new, and they've replaced other avionics and flight management controls before. Just Google "Rockwell Collins flight deck automation touchscreen." You'll get plenty of vintage 2013 and 2015 videos on Rockwell's touch-control flight display systems. (None of what you'll find as part of the prior art cited on the patent.)    

But this patent is carefully crafted. The independent claims deal with an avionics system interface or an aircraft fuel management system, specifically with engine boost pumps. So the patent examiner had to ask the question, "Has anyone ever used a touchscreen with icons and colors indicating what's going on for managing engine boost pumps before?" So there you go, patent.

If you're a UI/UX designer — user interface/user experience — this seems pretty obvious to you. However, if you are writing the interface to those boost pumps, this may be non-obvious to you or at least non-obvious enough to score a patent.     


Off to HADES You Go

Researchers at Sandia National Labs received a cybersecurity patent for "Cloud Forensics and Incident Response Platform" (11113388).  The invention underlies the Lab’s CHIRP product.  Cloud Hypervisor Forensics and Incident Response Platform, or CHIRP, is a cloud-based platform that enables analysts to track and record attacker actions for forensic analysis. The CHIRP platform may also be used to disrupt malicious copying, deleting, encrypting, and relocating of data in a cloud-based environment.

CHIRP collects evidence when adversaries attempt to gain access to unauthorized information through malicious online activity and provides information to incident responders in real-time without disturbing the user's work or alerting the intruder.   The discovered hacker is led unobtrusively into High-fidelity Adaptive Deception & Emulation System (Hades), where cloned virtual hard drives, memory, and data sets simulate reality. In addition, certain artifacts have been deliberately, but not obviously, altered. This is a honey pot.  Draw the hacker into a fake environment and then watch what they do. Most cybersecurity engineers would like nothing better than to send these miscreants straight to HADES.

Skip the face.  Go for the eyes.

Human irises are unique and rich signatures distinct to each individual. Iris recognition is one of the most secure forms of biometric identification. Unlike other biometric features such as fingerprints and voice, the irises hardly change throughout an individual's lifetime. Recently, iris recognition has become increasingly common on various wearable and mobile devices. For these systems, a high level of security and an efficient recognition processing pipeline with low computational complexity are the two stringent requirements for deployment.  

Brown University received 11113553, Iris Recognition Using Fully Convolutional Networks.  The National Science Foundation funded this research.  Brown’s invention enables faster response time, less energy consumption, and cost without compromising accuracy and security. The iris recognition technology in this invention makes biometrics usable to meet the security demands of mobile, embedded, and internet-of-things devices.

Another Angle On Anti-Counterfeiting

Last Thursday, we wrote about Wavefront Technologies’ patent application for new security features on banknotes and fraud-sensitive documents that used dichroic effects that change color when a document is viewed from different angles.  Tuesday, Wavefront received a new patent for Optical Switch Devices (11113919.)   This invention presents high contrast images with or without color that switch rapidly.  The technology uses different viewing angles and lenses to create security features on the documents.  The Treasury Department is creating new and innovative ways to annoy counterfeiters and to help banks and retail operations detect fake money.

The Best of the Rest

The United States Army Medical Research and Development Command funded two new patents for mobile non-invasive treatment of traumatic brain injury. One patent went to Vivonics (11109771). The second went to Neurowave Systems (11109789).   

Cree LED received 11114594, "LIGHT EMITTING DEVICE PACKAGES USING LIGHT SCATTERING PARTICLES OF DIFFERENT SIZE." This patent is a testament to perseverance. Cree applied for the patent in 2007. Over the next 14 years, the application received ten Non-Final Rejections, nine Final Rejections, two Notices of Allowance, four US Presidents, and a corporate name change before the patent was granted on September 7, 2021. . 

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration received 11112241, "Apparatus and method for fault-proof collection of imagery for underwater survey." The invention includes a set of time-of-flight (TOF) sensors.  A time-of-flight camera (ToF camera) is a range imaging camera system employing time-of-flight techniques to resolve distance between the camera and the subject for each point of the image by measuring the round trip time of an artificial light signal provided by a laser or an LED.

This week's Bayh-Dole Scofflaws, patent recipients that fail to provide the funding information required by the law, included the usual suspects. Raytheon with more jet technology (11111804). HRL Laboratories received US patent 11113597, "Artificial neural network and method of training an artificial neural network with epigenetic neurogenesis." DARPA funded this work.


This week FedInvent identified 149 newly granted patents that benefitted from taxpayer funding.  These 149 patents are the work of 469 inventors. This week’s patents list 452 American inventors from 31 states and the District of Columbia.  There are 17 foreign inventors from seven countries. The patents have 162 individual references to funding sources. 


The table below shows the count of taxpayer-funded patents granted this week. These patents contain a Government Interest Statement in the body of the patent document or are patents where the government is an assignee. The count is organized by the agency named in the Government Interests Statement and the contract cited in the government interest section of the patent.


The table below shows this Tuesday's patents organized by the Technology Center where the patent was examined.

That’s today’s update.  

Please explore the FedInvent Patent Report and the Details on all of Tuesday's new patents. There are a lot more fascinating inventions from inventors funded by federal grants and contracts.

Thank you for reading FedInvent.  We’ll be back on Friday with the FedInvent Report on new patent applications with federal funding.  

The FedInvent Team

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About FedInvent 

Wayfinder Digital's FedInvent Project follows the federal innovation ecosphere from Federal R&D. FedInvent tells the stories of inventors, investigators, and innovators. We follow the taxpayer money and the inventions.