Intel Patents: A Diverse Story of Software Innovation
|Written by Steve Brachmann
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Posted: April 20, 2014 @ 1:29 pm
The Intel Corporation of Santa Clara, CA, has been a global leader in the development of computing processors and related semiconductor components for the past few decades. In 2013, this technology manufacturer saw a drop in revenues but still maintained 15.4 percent of the world’s market share for semiconductors, making it the top corporation overall in that respect. New Intel chipset products are set to hit technology markets in May 2014, which could result in upgrades to the Apple iMacs using these processors. Intel’s also developing improvements to its Thunderbolt Networking technology allowing for easy connection of computers running different operating system platforms, supporting PC-to-Mac connections.
Our Companies We Follow series has looked at Intel a few times before. Our latest chance to check in with this multinational semiconductor chip manufacturer has revealed some truly unique technologies meant to improve mobile devices and communication systems for a great number of global consumers. Software is the common theme behind those patents and patent application we found during this snapshot look at Intel.
We start our profile of Intel’s recently developed technologies with a look at our featured patent application, which discusses a novel system for managing access to a vehicle among multiple drivers. This access management system would also be able to delegate responsibilities, such as gas refueling and scheduled maintenance, as well as enable emergency access to trusted parties. Other patent applications which we noticed today discussed enhanced security measures for private data as well as home media systems for accessing segmented television content.
The Intel Corporation is a major recipient of patents issued by the USPTO, and in recent weeks it has secured many interesting additions to its patent portfolio. A couple of patents relate to improved systems of thermal management in mobile electronic devices. Our interest was also piqued by one patent protecting a system of monitoring care patients residing in independent living situations.
Tiered Level of Access to a Set of Vehicles
U.S. Patent Application No. 20140094987
It’s become a more common occurrence in American homes that one vehicle is often used by multiple family members. Some families may share one vehicle among multiple family members, while others may have one or more shared cars along with other vehicles which are used by a single owner. Sharing of car ownership is experienced all over the world; for example, cars are often collectively owned in Israeli kibbutzes.
When one car is shared among multiple users, it’s often assumed that each individual user will share responsibility for certain aspects of car ownership. Cleaning of the car and certain scheduled maintenance procedures are aspects of car ownership that would ideally be shared among all users. Current methods of managing car access, however, are limited to possession of the car’s keys, while sharing of car responsibilities is limited to human memory and verbal communication.
The Intel Corporation filed this patent application with the USPTO in September 2012 to protect a vehicle access system capable of determining the identity of an individual occupant. Once the identity of a person has been established, the system can then determine if that occupant has driving privileges for that vehicle. This system can be used with many kinds of vehicles, including cars, trucks, motorcycles, busses and so on.
This system relies on a software construct, referred to as a “circle of kinship,” which is capable of maintaining active records for who may access a vehicle, as well as any restrictions. For example, the system could enable the monitoring of teen and valet drivers. Conversely, individuals could be granted emergency access, such as a babysitter who may need to drive a child to a hospital in response to a medical event. Primary vehicle owners can also administer responsibilities, such as driving errands, through this system.
As Claim 1 states, the Intel Corporation would like to protect:
“A method for enabling access to a vehicle, the method comprising: detecting, by an access system comprising at least one processor, an identity of at least one occupant of the vehicle; determining, by the access system, access level information based at least in part on a tiered encrypted permissions structure for controlling access to the vehicle by the at least one detected occupant identity; and providing, by the access system, the at least one detected occupant access to the vehicle based upon the access level information.”
Other Patent Applications
Technological innovation in recent years is being driven by ever changing forms of media consumption among the public. Mobile devices and wireless home data networks are helping people watch and listen to media in revolutionary ways, even providing them a great deal of control over their media content choices compared to traditional broadcast channels. For example, individual segments of content from television producers may become available on-demand for subscribers through the technology described in U.S. Patent Application No. 20140096157, entitled Home Media Server Control. This would give subscribers more control over editing, mixing and producing content at home through network-connected set-top boxes. Mobile device content and more efficient downloading techniques are the focus of U.S. Patent Application No. 20140095664, which is titled Methods and Systems for Dynamic Media Content Output for Mobile Devices. This allows a user to download only certain data sets for media, like a video and audio set, while refusing the download of unnecessary data sets attached to the file, like closed captioning data, to make better use of bandwidth resources.
Privacy concerns are foremost on the minds of computer users today, and Intel has been busy developing system that should improve a computer user to protect important information across many digital services. Privacy of video data collected for computer vision services will be upgraded by the technology discussed within U.S. Patent Application No. 20140090074, which is titled Enhanced Privacy for Provision of Computer Vision. This system prevents malicious software from stealing recorded video data and transmitting it to unauthorized parties. Protection of important private data from malicious software is also achieved by the system described by U.S. Patent Application No. 20140047470, filed under the title Securing Content From Malicious Instructions. This system is specifically designed to protect against shaders, pieces of malicious code that infect a computer’s graphics subsystem and send sensitive data to unauthorized third parties by applying effects to images rendered by the computer’s graphics processing unit (GPU).
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Issued Patents of Note
The Intel Corporation does a great deal of business in many sectors of the technology industry thanks to it’s powerful semiconductor and computer processing hardware products. In 2013, this company received 1,455 patents issued by the USPTO, placing them 18th overall in the entire world for that year according to this list released by patent information services firm IFI CLAIMS. Today, our patent search has identified a number of technologies that may be of great interest to our readers here at IPWatchdog, including a variety of hardware and software inventions, particularly given how the industry anxiously awaits a decision from the United States Supreme Court in Alice v. CLS Bank.
We were intrigued by the number of hardware upgrades, especially related to mobile devices, that Intel has recently added to its intellectual property portfolio. A number of these patents protect improvements to temperature sensors and thermal management systems for these devices. For instance, U.S. Patent No. 8693969, issued under the title Temperature Compensation in a Telecommunications Device, protects a system that aids a mobile device in proper signal transmission. This technology enables for proper operation of the oscillator circuit generating the frequency signal, regardless of extreme temperatures. U.S. Patent No. 8684597, entitled Thermal Sensor Having Toggle Control, protects a method of intelligently turning off the power diverted to on-die thermal sensors used by mobile devices. This improvement is designed to conserve battery life by reducing sensor power when the sensor isn’t needed. We also noticed an improvement to circuit board manufacturing methods that may increase device signal processing power in U.S. Patent No. 8673391, which is titled Method of Manufacturing a Circuit Board. This method of manufacturing printed circuit boards (PCBs) improves upon current fiberglass PCBs that have problems transmitting multiple signals at frequencies of 1 GHz or higher.
A couple of unique software systems also caught our eyes here at IPWatchdog this time around, including some truly novel innovations, one that may substantially improve quality of life for the elderly. For example, U.S. Patent No. 8682952, which is titled System for Maximizing the Effectiveness of Care Giving, protects a computer-implemented method of monitoring a subject or patient to provide better alarm notifications to remotely located caregivers. This technology is intended to support independent living among elderly individuals while better providing emergency services when needed.
Inter-operation of computer applications is another area of innovation for Intel. On this front take a look at recently issued Patent No. 8695017, which is titled Method and System for Interworking a Plurality of Applications. This system provides mobile devices with certain functions of application interoperability widely available on computing devices, such as clipboard copy-and-paste as well as shell functions.
As alluded to earlier, the U.S. Supreme Court has yet to come to a decision in the Alice v. CLS Bank case, which could drastically impact the state of American innovation in software technologies. Some predicted outcomes of this case would lead to the de facto invalidation of all software patents, such as those described above and many others. According to some analysis of the oral arguments, the justices of the Supreme Court seem split on the validity of Alice Corp.’s patent claims, although comments from Justice Sotomayor and others seem to indicate a lack of willingness to invalidate software and business method claims outright. Thus, the industry waits to see the fate of patents, pending patent applications and entire portfolios.- - - - - - - - - -
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About the AuthorSteve Brachmann is a writer located in Buffalo, New York. He has worked professionally as a freelancer for more than five years. His work has been published by The Buffalo News, The Hamburg Sun, USAToday.com, Chron.com, Motley Fool and OpenLettersMonthly.com. He also provides website copy and documents for various business clients.