Microsoft Corporation, headquartered in Redmond, WA, is an American leader in developing and manufacturing computer services products, including Microsoft Office document software suites and Microsoft Windows operating systems. As a leader in the computer services market, Microsoft is a regular each week at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. This week, we return to see what the Washington State-based technology juggernaut has been up to lately.
As always, many patent applications show Microsoft’s focus on improving their software for business applications. Different Microsoft patent applications this week provide for systems of sharing meeting notes within office software, mapping identities to keep important business documents secure as well as using serious games to identify talent within an organization.
Other USPTO documents of note show that the computer developer is also trying to reach beyond this market. Another patent application would protect a system of creating digital memorabilia for events. Also, one patent awarded to Microsoft protects a system of identifying different users on a touchscreen.
Complete file histories courtesy of The Patent Box.
Computer systems are more ubiquitous than ever, and devices have been designed to allow quick access to computing services. One way many electronic computing devices accomplish this is through a touchscreen. Users can tap the screen or otherwise use finger contact to control the device, which works much faster than a typical mouse and keyboard. However, currently developed touchscreen technologies do a poor job of discriminating between different users, especially in larger surface environments.
This Microsoft system of discriminating between different users on a touchscreen uses a few attributes to determine between computer users. Surface touchscreen environments can command users to touch the screen simultaneously, allowing the computer to gain certain data about that touch that allows it to detect the individual. Environmental sensors can also capture an image of a user at a given point around the touchscreen, and the captured image analyzed to determine identity.
Claim 1 of this Microsoft patent document provides legal protections for:
“A system comprising: one or more processors; one or more computer-readable storage media including instructions executable by the one or more processors; a touch input component to: obtain touch point information from at least one surface in a surface computing environment, and determine a vector of incidence based on the touch point information; one or more sensors that collect information related to a surrounding environment of the at least one surface that is used by a plurality of users; a touch discrimination component to: infer an association between a user of the plurality of users and a touch point based on at least one of the touch point information, accelerometer information obtained from a user device associated with the user, or environmental information, and distinguish input received from the user relative to other users of the plurality of users; a biometric sensor to identify a fingerprint based on the touch point information, to determine whether the fingerprint is associated with the user, and to associate the fingerprint with a new user when the fingerprint is unassociated with the user; an overhead sensor analysis component to use overhead optical sensors to acquire overhead environmental information, and ascertain movements of at least one user of the plurality of users based on the overhead environmental information; a facial analysis component to use one or more optical imaging sensors to determine a line of sight of at least one user of the plurality of users; and a threshold component to apply one or more thresholds to an image when the image is included in the touch point information; a fusion component to apply, based on a context of the surface, weightings to the touch point information and to the environmental information.”
Online meeting software benefits businesses in a number of ways. It allows business partners from geographically diverse areas to communicate in a business meeting setting through an Internet connection, often using video and audio communications. These software programs also automate many of the tasks involved with setting up meetings, such as delivering electronic meeting invitations or checking the meeting attendance.
Microsoft hopes to add one more function to this piece of office software, and describes their innovation in this patent application. A notes application would be added to existing meeting software, allowing notes to be distributed to all meeting participants through the same scheduling software. This helps meeting coordinators by streamlining the process of distributing notes, as e-mail or other means of communicating these documents are more cumbersome.
As Claim 1 states, Microsoft is hoping to protect:
“A method executed at least in part in a computing device for facilitating note sharing in an online meeting, the method comprising: upon detecting activation of a meeting notes control, providing one or more notes for selection; detecting selection of one or more shareable notes; inserting identifier information associated with the online meeting to data associated with the selected shareable notes; populating a meeting notes page associated with the online meeting with meeting information and the selected shareable notes; and sharing the meeting notes page with one or more meeting attendees during the online meeting rendering the selected shareable notes available to the meeting attendees.”
People like to have memorabilia stored from past events, whether those are concerts, sporting events, theatrical productions or a multitude of other live events. Ticket stubs and souvenirs are common items that take on extra value as memorabilia, and often these simple slips of paper or T-shirts can evoke images and memories of a specific time and place. However, as physical objects, they are subject to wear or loss, which can ruin their value as memorabilia.
What Microsoft wants to protect with this patent application is a cloud-based service that can store digital memorabilia collected by an event attendee, like images or video. In schematic images, this would be accessible to users through an application titled “eventCONNECT”. This application also collects social media information, which could potentially connect those from the same social networks who are attending the same event separately.
Claim 1 of this patent application would protect:
“A method for storing event memorabilia, comprising: receiving over a wide-area network notification that a first user has registered to attend an event; receiving over the wide-area network metadata associated with the event; locating a user profile associated with the first user; storing the metadata and an association between the metadata and the first user profile in a database; granting the first user access to the user profile and the metadata associated therewith.”
Identifying talent for promotion has typically been an inexact science in the business world. Many employees with potential at other positions stay where they are because a manager or employer doesn’t get the chance to see their skills in another area. Many employers will use employee production as a criterion for promotion, but this method is imperfect when considering that an employee who doesn’t excel in one position may have a hidden skill set that makes them very capable in an entirely different part of the business.
This computer system, developed by Microsoft, would use an advisory services network to develop serious games, or digital games created for training and educational purposes, based on actual business problems. The advisory services network would help create game software and administer the gaming environment to employees. Employee contributions to solving business problems are ranked by others in the system, assigning a point total to that particular employee.
As Claim 1 explains, this patent application would allow Microsoft to protect:
“A talent identification subsystem of a network gaming platform comprising: a point component configured to monitor a plurality of player point awards wherein a player point total is automatically updated based upon the player point award; a contribution voting component configured to allow a plurality of players of the network gaming platform to submit a plurality of contribution votes associated with a player contribution, wherein the plurality of contribution votes associated with the player contribution are aggregated to generate a contribution score and the contribution score is associated with a player; a contribution ranking component configured to aggregate a plurality of contribution scores associated with the player to generate a player contribution ranking; and a player performance profile component configured to generate a player performance profile for the plurality of players of the network game wherein the player performance profile is based upon the player point total and the player contribution ranking.”
The growing use of cloud-based servers has allowed much more digital sharing of documents in the contemporary business world. Instead of printing copies of a document to distribute among the proper individuals, these documents can be posted online to be accessed by many. This cuts down on waste and the time taken to print copies. However, current methods of sharing documents online are fairly insecure, which is problematic when trying to share a private document.
This system of attaching identities to a document shared on a computing device would keep a document private within a network. When a network user attempts to access that document, that user will be prompted for credentials. If the network detects a previous association between that user and the document, the document will be unlocked, or the user can login with someone else’s credentials.
Claim 1 of this Microsoft patent application describes:
“A method for accessing a content item using a shared computing device, the method comprising: receiving a request to interact with a content item in a requested manner; determining, based at least in part on an identification table associated with the content item, whether an association exists between the content item and at least one user of a plurality of users of the computing device; when it is determined that an association exists between the content item and the at least one user: determining whether a current user of the computing device is equivalent to the at least one user; and when the current user is equivalent to the at least one user, enabling interaction between the current user and the content item in the requested manner using credentials associated with the at least one user; otherwise, attempting to enable interaction between the current user and the content item in the requested manner using credentials associated with the current user; and when the attempt to enable interaction between the current user and the content item is unsuccessful, attempting to enable interaction between the current user and the content item using credentials associated with the at least one user.”