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IPO to Award National Inventor of the Year to Kinect Inventor

Alex Kipman, inventor of Kinect for Microsoft.

On Monday, December 10, 2012, Intellectual Property Owners Education Foundation will honor 39th Annual National Inventor of the Year Alex Kipman, 2012 Distinguished IP Professional Judge James Holderman, and the six winners of the Second Annual IP Video Contest, in a ceremony at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery.

National Inventor of the Year

The National Inventor of the Year Award, which is intended to celebrate the spirit of American innovation, is being awarded to Kipman in honor of his role on the Microsoft team that invented Kinect, which is the motion sensing input device developed for the Xbox 360 video game system and Windows PCs.

According to an article in New York Times Magazine on May 31, 2012, Kinect set “a Guinness World Record for the fastest-selling consumer device ever,” selling 8 million units in the first 60 days after its release. Kinect revolutionized personal entertainment with its ability to fully recognize and adapt a human’s form and gestures into video game and other entertainment experiences.


With all the accolades for the Kinect it is easy to forget that the application for this great technology can and ultimately will go far beyond video games. In the aforementioned Times article the author explained some of the potential future uses:

Combined with a powerful microchip and software, these capabilities could be put to uses unrelated to the Xbox. Like: enabling a small drone to “see” its surroundings and avoid obstacles; rigging up a 3-D scanner to create small reproductions of most any object (or person); directing the music of a computerized orchestra with conductorlike gestures; remotely controlling a robot to brush a cat’s fur. It has been used to make animation, to add striking visual effects to videos, to create an “interactive theme park” in South Korea and to control a P.C. by the movement of your hands.

But even this laundry list of possible uses for the Kinect technology seems inadequate to capture the potential magnitude of the innovation. Kinect cause the XBox to respond to how you move, but it also uses advanced entertainment technology to respond to the sound of your voice. Thus, in years to come Kinect could revolutionize how people interact with a variety of machines and pieces of equipment, giving unprecedented control over the implementation of technology from afar. While the Times mentions remote control of a robot to brush a cat’s fur, that same technology could be used to control robots remotely do engage in all kind of activities that would be hazardous to humans.

Kipman is the first named inventor on four Microsoft patents, two of which deal with technology used to track movements within a video game platform. U.S. Patent No. 7,974,443 titled Visual target tracking using model fitting and exemplar relates to a method of tracking a target that includes receiving an observed depth image of the target from a source and analyzing the observed depth image with a prior-trained collection of known poses to find an exemplar pose that represents an observed pose of the target. Additionally, U.S. Patent No. 8,009,022 titled Systems and methods for immersive interaction with virtual objects relates to a system to present the user a 3-D virtual environment. In the invention articulated in the ‘022 patent as the user moves through his physical space, he is captured by the depth camera. Data from that depth camera is parsed to correlate a user position with a position in the virtual environment. Where the user position or movement causes the user to touch the virtual object, that is determined, and corresponding haptic feedback is provided to the user.


Distinguished IP Professional

The Distinguished IP Professional award recognizes an individual who has demonstrated extraordinary leadership in the intellectual property community and a lifetime commitment to invention and innovation. This year the Foundation recognizes the Honorable James F. Holderman, Chief Judge, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois.

During more than twenty-five years on the bench, Chief Judge Holderman has presided over numerous cases in all areas of federal jurisdiction. Currently the Northern District of Illinois is one of fourteen United States district courts participating in a ten-year program designed to evaluate the adjudication of patent cases. Chief Judge Holderman also oversaw the adoption of patent rules of practice that have become a model looked at by many other district courts. Chief Judge Holderman also teaches IP courses at John Marshall Law School and at the University of Illinois College of Law.


IP Video Contest

In 2011 the Foundation created its IP Video Contest for the purpose of educating teens and the public about the importance of the patent system. Young adults in three age categories are asked to illustrate in an original video why they think the patent system is important. Winners receive scholarships and cash prizes.

The 2012 winners are Alexis Salcedo of Bethesda, MD and Sam Marlott of Elmhurst, IL in the 13-15 category, Lewie Kloster ofMinneapolis, MN and Jason Girouard of Brimfield, MA in the 16-18 category, and Reggie Schickel of Urbana, IL and Matthew Kim of Temecula, CA in the 19 and over category. Their videos are posted on the contest website at www.ipvideocontest.com.


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