Siemens AG is a giant European corporation involved with electronics and electrical engineering; headquartered in the German cities of Munich and Berlin, it is the European continent’s largest such company. The company has faced instability in recent months, but it’s hopeful that new CEO Joe Kaeser, appointed at the end of July, will help stabilize the company’s activities. Recently, the company was bolstered by an announcement of a $400 million contract to deliver two power plant blocks to Pennsylvania under an order from Gemma Power Systems LLC.
The scope of Siemens’ technology development makes it a recurring feature in IPWatchdog’s Companies We Follow series. Today, we look at a few issued patents and patent applications published by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office that are assigned to this corporation.
Many of these patent references reviewed this week show us Siemens involvement with electrical and Internet systems on all levels, from personal to industrial. For example, one patent application would protect a floating sensor capable of detecting foam formation in industrial liquid production, a symptom of process issues. An issued patent, with an extremely narrow Claim 1, protects a system of analyzing industrial facility processes to identify energy cost savings. On an individual level, one patent application describes a system of creating anonymity among mobile device owners using cloud application resources.
Siemens is also involved in medical technology upgrades that aid various bodily systems. One patent application filed with the USPTO would protect a system of training the hearing impaired to better understand speech, even when amplification affects the signal. Finally, we feature one last patent application that discusses a system of measuring heart activity non-invasively.
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U.S. Patent Application No. 20130203386
Cloud computing is increasing the access of electronic device owners to a slew of digital resources available through Internet access. Interacting with cloud-based services often requires authorization to connect on the part of a user. However, many users may not be confident trusting these cloud computing applications with freely accessing their device during use. Refusing to authorize access often prevents a user from being able to use these resources.
This Siemens patent application describes a system of protecting the privacy of mobile electronic device users while allowing access to cloud resources. In this system, a gateway exists between a mobile device and a cloud application. A mobile device communicates with a gateway, which confirms the identity of the mobile user, while trying to access a cloud application. When the gateway confirms the user’s identity, a unique identifying tag is attached to the user that makes it impossible to determine a mobile device user’s location or identity.
As Claim 1 explains, Siemens is seeking the right to protect:
“A method for operating a gateway comprising: receiving communications from a mobile device of a user; receiving communications from an application; controlling communications between a mobile device of a user and an application wherein said mobile device is identified by a first identifier for communications between said gateway and said mobile device and said mobile device is identified by a second identifier for communications between said gateway and said application; translating between said first identifier and said second identifier; and determining whether said communications between said mobile device and said application are enabled or disabled.”
Method for Training Speech Recognition, and Training Device
U.S. Patent Application No. 20130209970
People who experience hearing impairments often have problems perceiving what is actually being said to them, even when they have hearing aids. Most hearing aids have an input transducer for taking in sounds, an amplifier and an output transducer that creates an acoustic signal. Changes to the original sound because of electromagnetic amplification can create frequency compression or dynamic-range compression, which can affect a person’s ability to understand speech correctly.
This patent application, filed by Siemens with the USPTO, would protect a system of training those with hearing impairments to be able to better perceive speech through their hearing aid. This system includes a speaker or headphones that emit logatomes, words without meaning that include multiple phonemes, or distinct units of sound. The test subject is given a logatome and then must select the correct logatome used through a graphical user interface.
Claim 11 (Claims 1 through 10 cancelled) of this patent application would extend to Siemens the right to protect:
“An automated training method for a speech perception of a person wearing a hearing device, the method which comprises: a) presenting a first speech component acoustically, the speech component being a logatome or a word; and b) causing the person wearing the hearing device to identify the acoustically presented speech component; c) if the identification is incorrect, automatically modifying the acoustic presentation of the first speech component and repeating steps a) and b) with a modified presentation until a prescribed maximum number of repetitions has been reached, wherein the modifying step includes bringing about the presentation with a different voice, different emphasis, or different background noise compared with a respectively preceding presentation; and d) if the identification is correct or if a number of incorrect identifications of the first speech component exceeds a maximum repetition number, presenting a second speech component acoustically.”
Measuring Transducer for Detecting the Formation of Foam on a Liquid
U.S. Patent Application No. 20130207006
Process technology plants that conduct liquid chemical processes are found in many industries, including pharmaceutical, food production and biomedicine. These plants often use floating sensors known as measuring transducers that sit on top of a liquid to measure physical properties of the liquid product. Although these sensors can detect liquid density and homogeneity, they can’t typically detect the formation of foam, which usually indicates a problem in the production process.
This patent application has been filed by Siemens to protect a floatable transducer that can measure foam formation on top of a liquid. The transducer contains a sensor on its upper side that is able to measure the incident luminous flux, or the rate flow of light reaching the sensor. Changes in the rate of light flow can indicate that foam has formed on a liquid’s surface and even measure the thickness of the foam layer.
Claim 10 (Claims 1 through 9 cancelled) of this patent application would give Siemens protection over:
“A measuring transducer for detecting formation of foam on a liquid, the measuring transducer being movably placeable in the liquid and a density of which is one of predetermined and adjustable such that the measuring transducer floats on a surface of the liquid, comprising: a device configured to determine a luminous flux incident on an upper side of the measuring transducer; and an evaluation device arranged in the measuring transducer and formed so as to output a signal to indicate foam formation on the liquid when the determined luminous flux falls below a specified threshold value.”
Method and System for Reducing Energy Costs in an Industrially Operated Facility
U.S. Patent No. 8510122
There are many types of industrially operated facilities operating all across the world, including factories, hospitals, airports and other large facilities that focus on a core area, whether that is the production of a good or a service. This core area of competence is a primary goal for the facility, while there may be many secondary processes undertaken to achieve that goal, such as powering machinery for manufacture. Some methods of saving energy in small systems, like air conditioning, have been attempted, but there are no good methods for analyzing complex industrial procedures for facility-wide energy cost reduction as of yet.
The USPTO recently issued this patent to Siemens, protecting a system of analyzing core and secondary processes at an industrially operated facility. Each process, from the purchase of energy to perform that process through the expenditure of all energy, is analyzed as a whole by a computer network. Looking at each energy stream individually can help facility management find new ways of reducing energy costs across the entire production process.
While generalizations in the patent field are typically not particularly enlightening, one generalization that is quite informative is that the longer the broadest claim the more narrow it is. Virtually anything can be patented if you are willing to layer on enough detail to the claims, but the more detail you include to make the claimed invention novel and non-obvious the narrower the scope of protection. Too many nuances and specifics in a claim can lead to something that is so narrow that it loses commercial utility. With this in mind, one should carefully consider the commercial usefulness of the a very long and detailed Claim 1 in this patent. Claim 1 describes, and Siemens has now earned the right to protect:
“A method for reducing energy costs in an industrially operated facility having a core process specific to a sector of industry, a secondary process supporting the core process that provides energy to the core process, a purchasing unit for purchasing energy, and a discharge unit for discharge of energy, the method comprising: accessing on an interconnected computer network a predefined two-part standardized procedure for reducing energy costs comprising a first standardized diagnostic method that analyses energy-relevant operational processes using diagnostics that are independent of the sector industry allowing benchmarking based on a large number of companies across a plurality of industry sectors and a second standardized analysis method selected from a plurality of standardized analysis packages each specific to particular sector of industry, said first standardized diagnostic method and said second standardized analysis method implemented by: (a) analyzing and benchmarking a plurality of energy-relevant operational process sequences of the facility using the first standardized diagnostic method by analyzing answers to predefined energy-relevant questions which are independent of the sector of industry, performed within the facility by the first standardized diagnostic method implementable on the interconnected computer network having access to a stored knowledgebase, wherein the first standardized diagnostic method analyzes answers to the predefined energy-relevant questions from the knowledgebase to identify and generate a report indicating areas where improvement to the sequences can be attained and benchmarking the facility as compared to other facilities, the sequence analysis including consideration of: energy flows of the core process, secondary process, purchasing unit, and discharge unit of the facility, the energy flow path including: purchase of the energy from an energy provider, consumption of the energy within the facility in a core process, the core process being a process that is specific to an industry sector whose main focus contains the sector-specific know-how of the facility, conversion of the energy in a secondary process, the secondary process being a process that provides the core process with necessary resources for the core process to function, and discharge of the energy from the facility; (b) analyzing the facility using a the second standardized analysis method implementable on the interconnected computer network having access to the stored knowledgebase wherein the second standardized analysis method comprises standardized analysis packages individually selectable by the facility from a plurality of standardized analysis packages for the particular sector of industry of the facility for analyzing the core process, the secondary process, the purchasing unit, and the discharge unit, wherein the second standardized analysis method provides recommendations for reducing energy costs by: measuring and allocating to the core and secondary processes the energy consumption levels of the core and secondary processes; monitoring energy-relevant data from the core and secondary processes; storing energy-relevant data from the core and secondary processes; analyzing the energy-relevant data via: determining production planning for the core process and secondary process determining energy cost reduction measures for the core and secondary processes based upon the energy-relevant data analysis; (c) planning energy cost reduction measures based on some or all of the recommendations for reducing energy costs provided by the second standardized analysis method; (d) implementing the energy cost reduction measures for the core and secondary processes; and (e) repeating step (a) of analyzing and benchmarking the plurality of energy-relevant operational process sequences of the facility, using the first standardized diagnostic method after a predetermined time interval to carry out another benchmark with other facilities to check an effectiveness of the energy cost reduction measures and continuing with process steps (b)-(e) based on the benchmarking.”
System for Non-Invasive Cardiac Output Determination
U.S. Patent Application No. 20130218038
Patients in critical or intensive care at hospitals are continuously monitored so that medical professionals can stay on top of any life-threatening issues that may form. Identifying a patient’s heart stroke volume, or the amount of blood expelled by a heart’s ventricle when it contracts, helps doctors identify the potential for possible cardiac events, like a heart attack. Catheters are very invasive to patients who are still recovering from other injuries, but other methods don’t provide an accurate heart stroke volume measurement.
Siemens recently filed this patent application with the USPTO to protect a non-invasive method of determining a patient’s heart stroke volume accurately. This system analyzes multiple methods of measuring cardiac activity which are non-invasive, including electrocardiograms, blood pressure and cardiac impedance measurements. The analysis of these non-invasive measurements can be judged against a parameter which indicates the amount of heart stroke volume a patient is experiencing during heartbeats.
Claim 1 of this Siemens patent application describes:
“A method for determining cardiac output or stroke volume, comprising the activities of: receiving signal data representing a plurality of parameters of a patient, said plurality of parameters being concurrently acquired from a patient over a particular time period and comprising at least one of (a) a parameter derived from an ECG waveform of said patient, (b) a parameter derived from a blood pressure signal of said patient, (c) a parameter derived from signal data representing oxygen content of blood of said patient and (d) a parameter derived from a patient cardiac impedance value; using a selected parameter of the plurality of concurrently acquired parameters of a patient in calculating a heart stroke volume of said patient comprising volume of blood transferred through the blood vessel in a heart cycle, in response to, a combination of a weighted summation of values of the selected parameter over said particular time period; and providing data representing the calculated heart stroke volume to a destination device.”