University Patents: Focus on the University of California System

The University of California, a system of 10 campuses with a combined student body of more than 200,000 people, and is the public university system for the most populous state in America. Today, we’re looking at various issued patents and patent applications filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to protect some of the exciting research underway in the Golden State.

A number of applications and issued patents we cover today deal with human sensory or biomedical developments. One patent application describes a system of using porous film to delivery medication to the eye. A recently issued patent protects a system of detecting heart arrhythmias without invasive ablation procedures. Another patent application would protect a method for sampling aromatic compounds to determine their chemical composition and a person’s olfactory response to segments of the aromatic compound.

Other inventions we feature here deal with improvements to energy collection or audio systems. One last patent application discusses a solar collector that is low in price while providing sun tracking capabilities. Finally, one issued patent protects a realistic sound generation system capable of reproducing sounds as if they were coming from another room.

It is worth noting, perhaps, that although the government has certain rights in some of these patent applications and issued patents because of federal funding, each of these have been assigned solely to the Regents of the University of California.



Low Cost High Efficiency Solar Concentrator With Tracking Receivers
U.S. Patent Application No. 20130228210

The gathering of solar energy for use as a heat source is possible through solar collectors and similar equipment. Light concentrators can be used to collect radiant energy from angles wider than what can be received by the collector’s aperture, the opening that lets light into the collector. Trackers that help the solar collector follow the sun’s movement on an axis improve the equipment’s ability to collect energy throughout the day, but the complexity of these systems is often expensive.

A recent application filed by the University of California describes a low-cost version of a high-efficiency solar concentrator that includes a tracking system. The system uses a hemisphere-shaped collector, which provides a wide angle of collection and a low cost of manufacture. A Mylar balloon is inflated or deflated to adjust the angle of light that the collector can receive.

Claim 1 of this patent application would protect:

“A light concentrator apparatus comprising: a reflector comprising: an open substantially hemispherical reflecting surface characterized by a radius R; and an aperture for admitting light onto the hemispherical reflecting surface; a movable elongated light collector having a first end located proximal to the reflecting surface, the collector extending from the first end along a longitudinal axis in a direction substantially normal to the reflecting surface to a second end; and a tracker configured to move the first end of the collector to points proximal to the reflecting surface.”


Methods for the Detection and/or Diagnosis of Biological Rhythm Disorders
U.S. Patent No. 8521266

Biological rhythm disorders, especially those involving the heart, are incredibly dangerous and carry a high rate of morbidity and death. Ablation therapy can be used to correct certain heart rhythm abnormalities by inserting an electrical sensor into the heart and delivering energy capable of treating the arrhythmia. However, this procedure is very invasive and carries a relatively low risk of success, about 70 percent in the case of atrial tachycardias, for one example.

This USPTO issued patent protects a system of better diagnosis and treatment of heart rhythm disorders. This system uses multiple sensors that can non-invasively sense biological activation signals traveling from the heart. Signal data is collected and analyzed to correctly identify the location of an arrhythmia, even for functional arrhythmias that may appear only occassionally or may move.

Claim 1 of this issued patent awards the University of California legal protections over:

 “A method of detecting one or more causes of a heart rhythm disorder, the method comprising: sensing heart activation signals at multiple locations using a plurality of sensors; collecting from said plurality of sensors data comprising a sensor location of each sensor and an activation onset time of each heart activation signal at each sensor location such that a plurality of activation onset times at a plurality of sensor locations is collected; arranging a sequence of the plurality of activation onset times at the plurality of sensor locations to create an activation trail; and determining at least one approximate core region in relationship to the activation trail indicative of the one or more causes of said heart rhythm disorder.”


Porous Photonic Crystals for Drug Delivery to the Eye
U.S. Patent Application No. 20130224302

There are many diseases of the eye that are difficult to treat properly with medication. Surgical procedures are incredibly invasive for the delicate membranes of the eye. Intraocular injections can be performed with some treatment success, but these procedures carry a higher infection rate than other treatments. Eyedrops and similar topical treatments provide the least invasive medication, but they typically require patients to dose much more often than they’d like.


This patent application, filed by the University of California with the USPTO, describes a system of drug delivery to a patient’s eye that uses porous film particles. The porous film is loaded with a medication for an intraocular disease. The film is brought into contact with the eye so that the medication can easily pass into the patient.

As Claim 32 (Claims 1 through 31 cancelled) explains, the University of California is seeking to patent:

 “A method for treating an intraocular disease of the eye comprising administering to an eye of a patient a porous silicon dioxide particle having pores configured to receive a drug for treating the disease, thereby delivering the drug to the eye.”



Gas Chromatography Recomposition-Olfactometry for Characterization of…
U.S. Patent Application No. 20130219991

For those in the aromatics and flavoring industries, determining the proper chemical compound that can mimic the taste of actual food is of utmost importance. Currently, aromas are typically composed of individual molecules, each with it’s own smell or flavor profile. However, when certain compositions are created, some of the original characteristics of the flavor molecule might be lost or new, unintended characteristics sometimes develop.

The University of California is attempting to patent a system of determining better flavor and aroma profiles through the use of a gas chromatograph-mass spectrometer detector (GC-MSD). A sample is taken from the headspace of a food or beverage in order to obtain volatile aromatic compounds. The sample is introduced to the GC-MSD’s inlet, where it is analyzed to determine the mixture’s chemical compound. The system is also capable of segmenting these compounds and so that different compositions of the same aromatic compound can be evaluated.

Claim 1 of this patent application would give the University of California rights over:

“A method for characterization and analysis of aroma mixtures, comprising: (a) extracting volatiles from a sample to form a mixture of volatiles; (b) separating components of said mixture of volatiles with a gas chromatographic column; (c) detecting eluents from said gas chromatographic column with a detector; (d) dividing eluents from said gas chromatographic column into fractions; (e) combining fractions of eluents from said gas chromatographic column; (f) selecting fractions and combinations of fractions for characterization; and (g) characterizing selected fractions and combined fractions with olfactometry.”


System and Method for Sound Generation
U.S. Patent No. 8515105

Although the technology for the generation of sound from speakers has been with us for nearly a century, improvements in sound generation are still being sought. Many desire a speaker or system of speakers that can realistically or more intensely reproduce a sound environment within a home theater or automobile. For example, some technology improvements have been created to approximate the sound of something occurring outside of the room.

The USPTO recently issued a patent to the University of California for a method of simulating sounds that better approximate the spatial relationship between a listener and the perceived distance from a generated sound. This speaker system is configured to create the perception that a listener is sitting inside of a room nested within an outer room. The imaginary outer room space is created acoustically so that a listener perceives that a sound is coming from a different room.

As Claim 1 states, the University of California has the right to protect:

“A method of sound simulation for generating an actual sound that simulates a fictitious sound that is perceived to be emanating from a perceived sound source at a first location within a first region, wherein the actual sound is to be sensed by a listener at a second location different from the perceived sound source at the first location, the method comprising: providing for sound simulation a third region surrounded by a virtual external boundary that forms a space outside of and encloses (1) the first region surrounded by a first boundary to which at least a first speaker is proximately positioned to produce the actual sound and (2) a second region surrounded by a second boundary, the second region in a space located within the first region, wherein the perceived sound source at the first location is positioned outside the second region while still being positioned inside the first region, and the second location where the listener is located to experience the sound simulation is positioned inside the second region; calculating at least one adjustment value based upon a position of the first location, a position of a fictitious speaker positioned proximate the second boundary of the second region, a position of the virtual external boundary, and a position of the center of the second region to include sound effects of sound traveling from the fictitious sound being generated by the perceived sound source to the virtual external boundary and bouncing back from the virtual external boundary to locations including the fictitious speaker, wherein the sound traveling includes sound paths that pass through the second region and sound paths that do not pass through the second region, and the included sound effects include an attenuation or a time delay based on a traveling distance of the fictitious sound with respect to the second boundary and the center of the second region; and generating a modified sound at the first speaker positioned proximate the first boundary of the first region, the modified sound being determined from the fictitious sound at least in part based upon using the at least one adjustment value, wherein the generating of the modified sound at the first speaker results in the perception of a sound being generated at the first location.”


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One comment so far.

  • [Avatar for David Gibbons]
    David Gibbons
    September 13, 2013 05:07 pm

    Methods for the Detection and/or Diagnosis of Biological Rhythm Disorders
    U.S. Patent No. 8521266

    This patent is part of a larger portfolio forming the basis of UC San Diego spin-out Topera Medical. Topera has successfully raised over $15M in venture funding and will be launching an FDA approved device for the efficient treatment of rhythm disorders in the very near future. Thank you for profiling this exciting technology.