Headquartered in Armonk, NY, the International Business Machines Corporation, or IBM, is a major force in the fields of manufacturing computing hardware and software, and also offers hosting and consultation services for those industries. This company has been a huge player in the area of cloud computing, and IBM recently announced the launch of Experience One, a marketing service designed to help businesses better reach consumers using the cloud. The corporation also recently opened a $17-million data center in Bogota, Columbia, which will provide cloud and Big Data services to companies within various Columbian industrial sectors. Recently, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) ended an investigation of IBM’s cloud computing revenues and found no wrongdoing in the way it reports cloud computing sales.
We’re back for our first profile of IBM in a few months here at IPWatchdog’s Companies We Follow series, and as per usual, we’re finding it almost impossible to keep up with the corporation’s recent innovations. IBM is the source of the highest level of patent filings at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. We hope that today’s profile of this American multinational corporation can give our readers even just a small glimpse at this company’s intellectual property goals.
IBM is renowned for its development of supercomputing programs, which is the focus of today’s featured patent application. This filed application describes a system of analyzing digital content in various forms in order to automatically determine the appropriate security level for that content, eliminating the need for network users to manually apply security measures on their own. We also found a couple of technologies for migrating consumer services to cloud-based environments, and a unique method of determining broken lamps in public lighting systems by utilizing satellite images.
Dozens of patents have been issued to IBM by the USPTO just this past week, and in them we found an interesting assortment of useful technologies for consumers. One patent protects a computerized system for adaptive speech responses which can more closely approximate a user’s speaking style. Another patent describes a system which better protects businesses from barcode fraud committed by customers at self-checkout aisles. We also found a couple of patents directed at vehicular technologies, including one system of recommending driving routes based on pollution scores for various areas.
Protecting Contents in a Content Management System by Automatically Determining the Content Security Level
U.S. Patent Application No. 20140149322
Computer processors are capable of analyzing and transmitting data at incredible speeds. For example, Watson, the cognitive technology developed by IBM capable of answering questions spoken in natural voice, is capable of processing 500 gigabytes per second, essentially the data equivalent of one million books each second. A platform like this is well-designed to handle software programs with “embarrassingly parallel” workloads, which can easily be separated into many smaller tasks. One such example of a software program which handles such a workload is IBM’s DeepQA question answering software.
However, such incredible speed can make it difficult for businesses and enterprises to adequately protect the information and documents which they consider to contain sensitive information. A major reason for this is the fact that most methods of determining and applying appropriate levels of content security is performed manually. Not only is this process prone to human error, it cannot hope to adequately keep up with the speed of Watson and other processing systems. Once sensitive information reaches the Internet from a home or office environment, it can be quickly distributed to other computers, creating an issue in security and privacy.
In November 2012, IBM filed this patent application with the USPTO to protect a method of analyzing data through a computer processor to determine the level of security which should be applied to that digital content. By processing the data in an artificial intelligence environment like Watson in this way, the confidentiality level of the data can be determined through the use of a pre-existing knowledge base.
This system is designed for natural voice computing environments, like the one which Watson creates. The ability to analyze unstructured data in part relies on the use of the Unstructured Information Management Architecture (UIMA) framework, a standard of content analytics, which creates a context for the unstructured data, allowing the artificial intelligence to determine the proper confidentiality level. Contextual elements of data which may be analyzed include the sender’s identity, the recipient’s identity and any information on trade secrets or project names contributed to the pre-existing knowledge base by the organization or an individual.
Claim 1 of this IBM patent application seeks the right to protect:
“A method of automatically classifying and handling data, the method, implemented by an information handling system, comprising: receiving, from a sender, data; responsive to receiving the data, automatically utilizing an artificial intelligence (AI) engine to perform a natural language processing process on unstructured data using a pre-existing knowledge base, resulting in an identification of a confidentiality level of the data; and performing an action based on the identified confidentiality level.”
Other Patent Applications
In the world of intellectual property development, IBM reigns supreme among American corporations for the incredible level of activity which goes on at their research facilities. Just this past week, the USPTO published more than 150 patent applications which have been assigned to this corporation. Whenever we check out IBM’s innovations, we notice many computing inventions which are designed to improve business operations, especially those utilizing cloud-based computing platforms. For example, U.S. Patent Application No. 20140149591, filed under the title Migration to Managed Clouds, describes a system designed to move data from a customer environment to an infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) cloud computing environment. This system is capable of adjusting software instances which are foreign to an IaaS cloud environment by adjusting that instance based on the IaaS platform standards. Methods of encouraging more migration to cloud environments are also discussed in U.S. Patent Application No. 20140149492, entitled Adjustment to Managed-Infrastructure-as-a-Service Cloud Standard. This innovation also involves the adjustment of software instances from consumer computing environments for use in a cloud environment. This patent application is directed at managed-infrastructure-as-a-service (MIaaS) cloud environments, in which consumers communicate over cloud networks with virtual machines on which robust operating systems have been installed.
The incredible diversity of IBM’s patent application filings also brought us a closer look at some intriguing technologies that represent the incredible scope of this company’s development activities. Municipalities and their utility maintenance crews may benefit from the invention which can be seen in U.S. Patent Application No. 20140147052, titled Detecting Broken Lamps In a Public Lighting System Via Analyzation of Satellite Images. The system described is designed to compare images of a public lighting system to determine a brightness variation between the images and transmit information on possible broken lamps to a control center. We also noticed an intriguing invention directed at providing coupon offers to computing device users, described in U.S. Patent Application No. 20140149218, which is titled Promotional Item Deliveries Based on Planned/Future Traveling. This system makes it easier for social deal websites like Groupon or LivingSocial to distributed electronic promotional items to users based on upcoming travel plans. This makes it easier for users to view coupons and discounts for cities other than their current one.
Issued Patents of Note
Not only is International Business Machines one of the largest corporations headquartered in America in terms of number of employees and market capitalization, it is far and away the leading competitor in U.S. patent grants and has been so for decades, a fact we often cite when we cover the corporation in our Companies We Follow series. In 2013, IBM once again took home the most patent grants from the USPTO of any company in the world; its 6,809 patent grants during that year beat Samsung, the second-place assignee that year, by more than 1,100 patents.
Although most of the IBM patent applications we covered today focus on better maintenance and management systems for business networks and municipal agencies, we’re noticing that most of IBM’s recently issued patents focus on better methods of communicating electronically, often between businesses and customers. Better methods of producing artificial voices in computing environments are protected by U.S. Patent No. 8744853, which is titled Speaker-Adaptive Synthesized Voice. This system of voice reproduction is capable of better approximating the accent and other linguistic features of a target speaker’s voice to better communicate with users. Methods for better analysis of requests for proposals (RFPs) and other project documentation are protected by U.S. Patent No. 8744986, issued under the title Effort Estimation Using Text Analysis. This patent protects a computerized system designed to better estimate the effort, including man-hours and cost of materials, needed to complete a project based on analysis of written data. We also noticed U.S. Patent No. 8744176, entitled Object Segmentation at a Self-Checkout, which protects a system designed to reduce the potential of theft or fraud at self-checkout aisles in stores. This innovation improves existing systems of capturing images of items being swiped at the self-checkout lane to determine a confidence level regarding item barcodes, which a customer may try to tamper with or switch in order to pay less for an item.
We wanted to close up today’s coverage of IBM’s patent-protected technologies with a look at a couple of patents issued this week which describe novel systems for managing vehicles and driver navigation. A technology designed to mitigate public health concerns linked to driving in urban areas is protected by U.S. Patent No. 8744766, which is titled Dynamic Route Recommendation Based on Pollution Data. This navigational system receives a starting point and a destination from a driver and recommends a route based on pollution score values collected by the system for pollutants like carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and more. Finally, we were intrigued by a system designed to generate vehicle incident reports automatically, protected by U.S. Patent No. 8742909, titled Vehicle-Induced Roadway Debris Monitoring. This system of reporting vehicle damage and malfunctioning is especially useful for car sharing programs in which users can receive information about the shared vehicle regarding the safety of driving the car.