The Metaverse Is Trending

Taxpayer Funded Inventions for August 17, 2021

Good Evening from FedInvent,

On Tuesday, August 17, 2021, FedInvent analyzed 148 newly granted patents that benefitted from taxpayer funding.  

Each week FedInvent publishes the Patent Report with the newsletter. It has a detailed analysis of patents with federal funding and the agencies providing funding. The patents detail page is arranged by department. Follow the work of the Department of Energy (DOE).  Explore all of the patents that had DOE funding and the subagencies involved. See which groups of agencies are collaborating on important new technology.  Please explore the data. There is a lot of good stuff going on.

Take Me To the Data


Metaverse is a catch-all term for new immersive technology and synthetic environments that blur the line between where the internet ends and the real world begins.  The federal innovation ecosphere is a significant creator of the metaverse.  Its scientists and researchers are both creators of mixed reality capabilities and inhabitants (users) of these virtual worlds. The federal metaverse is real and the FedInvent team will be reporting on it here.

The metaverse is a place where people play games; work; socialize; and, consume content. The metaverse is a persistent open world. It is always-on, enabling continuous live operation that spans devices and platforms. Thousands of users operate on the same platform simultaneously.

The metaverse is also the hardware and software that enable it. High-speed graphic processing units (GPUs) deliver both real-time performance and rich graphics. Gaming headsets with sophisticated controls let the user seamlessly integrate with their avatar while communicating with their human team in real-time. Cloud software enables engaging with people around the world to create virtual worlds and build complex 3D environments. Software and devices have a range of sensory and haptic capabilities. When you blow up a building in your massive multiplayer online (MMO) game, you feel the vibration in your handset. This is the metaverse. 

Immersive technology is used to create simulations for soldiers to train and execute real-life scenarios in a virtual world. Drone pilots operate UAVs across the globe using flight control systems that look and feel like a real cockpit from an Air Force base in Texas.  

Virtual reality is used in medical applications. Doctors simulate robotic surgery in mixed reality to practice procedures before surgery on human patients. Scientists are testing virtual reality applications to treat movement problems caused by a stroke, a brain injury, and Parkinson’s disease. Federal researchers are exploring using virtual reality to make rehabilitation exercises more engaging and less boring. In the metaverse rehab is gamified.

Synthetic environments are created using gaming and 3D software. These environments enable architects and engineers to collaborate on the design of complex systems and physical environments. Digital twins are used to model critical infrastructure letting engineers examine both physical and cybersecurity threats in real-time.

There is real federal money invested in the metaverse. The Army purchased 120,000 augmented reality headsets from Microsoft in a contract be worth $21.88 billion over ten years. The Army’s Integrated Visual Augmented System or IVAS program began in 2018 with a $480 million investment.  

NIH built its Vive system used for biomedical research.  Medical librarians at NIH are publishing papers analyzing the benefits of different augmented reality headsets for medical research.

The FDA is working on how to evaluate and approve virtual reality and augmented reality devices and treatments. NIH is exploring a methodology to guide the design, implementation, analysis, interpretation, and communication of trials that develop and test therapeutic virtual reality treatments.   


There are four metaverse patents this week.  The first is 11092979, "Introduction of olfactory cues into a virtual reality system,"  This work by inventors at Northwestern University. It was funded by the National Institutes of Health National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).  It adds the use of aromas and odors to the capabilities of a virtual reality environment.  

11089985, "Systems and methods for using mobile and wearable video capture and feedback platforms for therapy of mental disorders."  This is a system that uses mobile and wearable video capture equipment to provide therapy for behavioral disorders. The computing system runs a software system that utilizes classifiers to detect expressions in faces and provides feedback to a user as part of their treatment.   This patent was granted to Stanford University with funding from the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB).

The University of California received 11094043, "Generation of high dynamic range visual media." This is a system for generating high dynamic range (HDR) and video from a set of low dynamic range (LDR) images and video using convolution neural networks (CNNs). A convolutional neural network is a class of artificial neural networks, most commonly used to analyze visual imagery. The Office of Naval Research (ONR), and the National Science Foundation (NSF) provided funding.

11094223, "Simulation features combining mixed reality and modular tracking," The U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command (USAMRMC) funded the work of inventors at the University of Florida. The inventors patented a mixed reality simulator. This mixed reality system has a physical model, a virtual model, and tracked instruments. I Cognitive aids for enhancing the accuracy of an imaging/ultrasound probe or other imaging implement and the placement of an instrument within a physical target are included.

Avatars are part of the metaverse. See Hairstyles for Avatar from a group of innovators from the University of South California.


A new pest control invention — 11089772, "Modular insect trap." The inventor is Matthew Yans, an entomologist from the Navy Entomologist Center of Excellence (NECE).  NECE is the only Department of Defense (DoD) activity dedicated to worldwide entomology support. NECE develops and evaluates products and insecticide technologies to protect deployed forces from insects and other arthropods that transmit human disease.

Ticks are drawn to a collection area by placing an attractant (dry ice) in a container that has a downward-facing adhesive-coated surface. As the dry ice warms ticks are attracted to the carbon dioxide it emits. The container is arranged so there is no way for the ticks to reach the attractant without contacting the adhesive. 

Earlier this year FedInvent wrote about another pest trapping invention from NECE.  This invention is designed to “feed the bad bugs metal so they stick to a magnet. Patent 10881093, Ferromagnetic pest trap".

Another tick-related federally funded invention was published on July 29, 2021, "ASSAYS FOR DETECTING MULTIPLE TICK-BORNE PATHOGENS." You can read about 20210230673 here.


This week there are nine patents identified as emerging technology helpful in mitigating the impact of climate change.  Four are for pharmaceutical inventions related to conditions likely to be adversely impacted by climate change (Y02A).  There are two related to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions —  carbon fixation using bacteria; and,   a solar cell invention (Y02E).  One patent is related to improved manufacturing processes (Y02P). Two patents are related to transportation. The first is for an improvement to gas turbine engines.  The second is for waste heat recovery on internal combustion engines.

Missing in action here at the Y?  

11094473, "All-day solar cell system integrating high capacity photochromic storage and discharge," from the University of Massachusetts.

11094425, "Thermionic power cell" from NASA.

You can see what technologies USPTO has identified for Y classification here.


This week there is only one Bayh-Dole scofflaw, an entity that does not provide the identity of the contract that funded its work. Northrup Grumman is the assignee on patent 11092722, "Functionalized graphene and CNT sheet optical absorbers and method of manufacture."

Dr. Ed Silverman, a Northrop Grumman Fellow and one of the inventors on this patent is an expert on carbon nanotubes (CNTs). CNTs have the potential to revolutionize the design and operation for future lighter-weight air and space vehicles for higher quality intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance information. Our prognosticators chalk this one up to the Air Force.


The Navy received three new design patents this week:

D928068 — Marine vehicle with continuous front lens

D928069 — Marine vehicle with top lens

D928070 — Marine vehicle with shroud and top lens

They are additions to the Navy’s earlier patent D926662, "Marine vehicle with lens," Part of the Navy’s Ocean of Things. 


The Air Force funded an apparatus for airdropping equipment and supplies from an aircraft that includes a canister having a rotor system configured to slow the descent at a predetermined altitude to the desired landing speed via auto-rotation with or without motor assistance (11091265).

Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and IBM invented new screening technology for finding prohibited objects at security checkpoints.  Imaging technology, neural networks, and automated classification of compartments.  Some items are cleared automatically at the security checkpoint. Compartments classified into the second category undergo further security checks (11093803). 

The University of Virginia invented a new insulin dispensing device (11090433).

GRAMMATECH invented a way to detect anomalies in field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) and application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs).  This invention, funded by the US Air Force is critical to supply chain integrity.

From the synthetic biology arena, there is 11089767, "Transgenic silkworms expressing spider silk." The composite silkworm/spider silk fibers exhibit exceptional mechanical performance, compared to normal silkworm silk fibers and other transgenic silkworm fibers. 

And finally 11092591 from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, NY.  A kit for determining the dose of radiation a patient has been exposed to prior to a new medical encounter.


On Tuesday, August 17, 2021, FedInvent identified 148 newly granted taxpayer-funded patents. These patents have 173 references to federal agencies and departments that provided funding to the inventors. One hundred thirty-nine (139) of these patents contained government interest statements. Twenty-six (26) patents have the federal government as the assignee or the applicant.

These 148 patents are the work of 498 inventors. Four hundred eighty-five (485) of the inventors are American. The American inventors are from 40 states. There are 13 foreign inventors. 



The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) was cited as a funding source for 58 newly granted patents.  Fifty-five (55) patents identified the National Institutes of Health as the funding source.  The individual Institutes are cited 84 times.  Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) funded VenatoRx Pharmaceuticals, Inc. in the discovery of a new antibiotic.  (Filed pre-pandemic.) The Military Health Complex funded ten newly granted patents.


The Higher Education Research and Development (HERD) complex received 81 new patents funded by American taxpayers.  Federally Funded Research and Development (FFRDC) entities are either assignees or funding entities on nine patents.  

The National High Magnetic Field Laboratory (NHMFL) at the University of Florida received a patent this week.  NHMFL performs magnetic field research in physics, biology, bioengineering, chemistry, geochemistry, biochemistry.

The intelligence community went dark this week. (Unless that Northrup Grumman patent is for the National Reconnaissance Office.)

We’ll be back on Thursday to report on newly published pre-grant patent applications.

Thanks for reading the FedInvent Patent Newsletter.


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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.