Category Archives: Gadgets

Some Patents Behind Microsoft’s Personal Assistant Cortana

In January, Microsoft introduced a new build of Windows 10, which it will be giving away for free for non-enterprise users running Windows 7 and Windows 8.1. One of the features on this update is a personal digital assistant that goes by the name Cortana.

It’s one of the most anticipated features of the new Windows 10, and I’ve started digging through patents at the USPTO to get some hints of what this might mean for us. An article published recently got me started, with the name, Here’s how to make the most of Cortana, the Windows 10 digital assistant.

You’ve likely seen Apple’s Personal Assistant Siri, which was featured on a number of celebrity enhanced advertisements, and you may have seen people writing about Google Now, which feeds you cards to give you information that it predicts you might need or want when that information becomes available. Cortana is Microsoft’s entry into the Personal Assistant field.

Cortana is supposedly “powered by Bing” and “developed for Windows Phone 8.1″, and it looks like an important feature in Windows 10. I’ve been having difficulties defining what “powered by Bing” actually means, except that it seems to imply that all of the questions asked to Cortana are answered by the Bing search engine.

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All Hands on the Microsoft Holodeck: A Look at Some of the Hololens Patents

I’ve written about some of the patents involved in Google’s Project Glass in the past, and very recently about the Google Ventures’ funded Magic Leap. Project Glass still exists, but it appears to now have new leadership and a new direction.

A heads Up Display from Microsoft
From “Exercising applications for personal audio/visual system” US8847988 B2

And then seemingly out of nowhere Microsoft announces a pair of goggles that they’ve been developing secretly, named the Hololens. And they’ve been feeding news sources some interesting information about them, like the article at Wired titled, “Project HoloLens: Our Exclusive Hands-On With Microsoft’s Holographic Goggles“. Continue reading All Hands on the Microsoft Holodeck: A Look at Some of the Hololens Patents

Magic Leap and Their Augmented Reality Semantic Robots

The temptation was to write this blog post mostly in pictures, since it’s about visual representations of things, based sometimes on a combination of objects that were understood using object recognition, and virtual semantic images superimposed on those, learned of from a knowledge base.

Google Ventures and a couple of partners funded the company Magic Leap with a substantial amount of money ($542 million), and Magic Leap responded with a new 180 page patent application that shows how it might create a “Cinematic Reality” in the world around us.

Here's a view of the glasses, and a belt pouch that does with them.
Here’s a view of the glasses, and a belt pouch that does with them.

With an 180 page long patent, there are a lot of images that go with it, so I’m going to mostly use pictures from the patent, Planar Waveguide Apparatus With Defraction Element(s) and System Employing Same for the rest of this post. Note that at least one of the pictures has a semantic element to it, which is pretty interesting, and there are mentions of the Semantic Web, like this one:

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Google’s Telepresence Patent

Telepresence is not science fiction. We could have a remote‑controlled economy by the twenty‑first century if we start planning right now The technical scope of such a project would be no greater than that of designing a new military aircraft.

Double Robotics' Double Telepresence Robot
Double Robotics’ Double Telepresence Robot

A genuine telepresence system requires new ways to sense the various motions of a person’s hands. This means new motors, sensors, and lightweight actuators. Prototypes will be complex, but as designs mature, much of that complexity will move from hardware to easily copied computer software. The first ten years of telepresence research will see the development of basic instruments: geometry, mechanics, sensors, effectors, and control theory and its human interface.

During the second decade we will work ‘to make the instruments rugged, reliable, and natural.

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Nest Not Google’s First Big Home Automation Purchase

News came out in a Google Press release yesterday, Google to Acquire Nest, that Google had purchased Nest, a company focused on connecting things found in your home to the internet, including the Nest Learning Thermostat, and recently released Protect, a Smoke + CO Alarm.

It’s exciting to see Google venturing out into business lines such as the control and security of house hold items such as alarms and thermostats and lighting and media controls. What does it mean for search and knowledge collection? I don’t think it signals any less interest in running a search engine, but it does show off a growing interest in selling internet related hardware, which is an area of experience that Google has been lacking in, though with devices such as Chromecast and Google Glass, may be really useful in the future.

There’s a lot of press and blog posts circulating around the Web about Google’s multi-billion dollar purchase of Nest, including some speculation that it gives Google a legitimate stance as a seller of hardware.

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These Are Not The Droids Google is Looking For?

Yesterday, Google’s CEO Larry Page announced that Andy Rubin would no longer be in charge of the mobile platform Android at Google,, but would be moving on to new challenges at the company. In the announcement, Page urged the entrepreneur and inventor to take “more moonshots please.” Andy Rubin brought Android to Google in 2004, but I’ve been wondering since yesterday’s announcement if we would see a different kind of Android delivered by his hands.

Rubin does have a history of enjoying tinkering with robots, and that seems to be an area that Google is quietly focusing upon. Regardless of whether or not the former Android chief is involved, do we need to add robots to the list of science fiction type endeavors Google is working upon?

I mentioned robots in the post, Inside the Google House of Ideas: 2 Lens Glass, Google Robots, and Smartwatches, a few weeks back after Google was granted 2 patents that involved providing instructions for robots, and enabling robots to make their own decisions (as if the patent covered Asimov’s three rules of robotics). Last October I also wrote about a paper to be presented this May that describes how robots might use an object recognition search from databases located in the Cloud to learn how to handle objects while doing their daily chores.

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Inside the Google House of Ideas: 2 Lens Glass, Google Robots, and Smartwatches

There are rumors that Google will be opening retail stores sometime in the near future (some rumors point to next year). The question rises though, what will Google feature in those storefronts? Will Chromebooks be a kiosk filler item? Will we see Android based phones? Are Google Glass wearable eye glasses still somewhat far off? Might self-driving cars still face changes in state legislation? Google TV might be a possibility. Home entertainment systems running on Android Hardware could also be shelf stuffers. Or will Google pull out some surprises for us?

Some recent patent filings from Google provide some possible hints at what we might see in Googleshops (or whatever they might be called) at some point, if Google does indeed open retail shops.

A look at how 2 lens glasses might be calibrated from the patent.

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More Google Glasses Patents: Beyond the Design

Google’s Project Glass seems to be moving closer and closer to reality, with the granting of 7 more patents today. Last week, I pointed out 4 patents related to the project in Google Glasses Design Patents and Other Wearables. Of those, 3 were design patents filed to protect the look and feel of the glasses, and the fourth patent described a way of using an infrared (IR) reflective surface on rings or gloves or even fingernails to provide input for the eyeglass display device. The patents granted today include only 1 design patent, and 6 patents that describe some of the more technical details about how Google’s Heads Up Display might work.

The First patent is a design patent from inventors who worked on the three design patents granted last week, Matthew Wyatt Martin and Maj Isabelle Olsson (Mitchell Joseph Heinrich was a co-inventor of one of the earlier three).

Another potential version of how Google Glasses might look.

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