Univ. of California Invents: From Video Games to Treating E. coli

By Steve Brachmann
February 18, 2014

February 19th is the opening of the 2014 Association of University Technology Managers annual meeting, which means this week IPWatchdog is taking a short break from our regular Companies We Follow series to celebrate some of the best recent innovations from America’s academic institutions. Yesterday we featured innovations from historically black colleges and universities.

The University of California is the state’s public university system and it is comprised of 10 member institutions. This system has one of the strongest research and development operations of any American collegiate system; in 2011 alone, UC was responsible for 1,581 new inventions. Today, we’re getting a closer look at the recent patent applications and issued patents assigned to the Regents of the University of California by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. We’ve found an intriguing assortment of innovations in medical and industrial fields, and even the video game industry, coming out of these academic institutions.

The featured patent application for today’s column would protect a system of better capturing video game player motion for physical activities required of games. This system would make it harder for users to cheat these games and complete tasks without completing the physical motion the game asks users to perform. Other patent applications we discovered include better systems of creating useful stem cells and a more effective topical formula for acne treatment.

The University of California received a number of recent patents from the USPTO, including a couple protecting better mass spectrometry systems for detecting pollutants in workspaces and factories. The UC system also received a number of patents protecting medical innovations, including a device enabling easier corneal transplants and a method of using genomic sequencing to treat E. coli infections.



Systems For and Methods Of Detecting and Reproducing Motions for Video Games
U.S. Patent Application No. 20140031123

Americans play a lot of video games, especially American children. Reports on the average playing time of American children range from 10 hours up to 40 hours or more every week; the higher number is included in the patent application, although uncited. Even at the lower end of that spectrum, that’s a lot of time children spend sedentary every week. To help aid against obesity, some video game developers have released games that encourage physical activity in players, such as Nintendo’s WiiFIT system.

However, it’s fairly easy for a player to cheat this system and play a game without completing the genuine physical movement the game requires. For example, when playing a tennis simulation, a player might only flick their wrist to execute a swing instead of following through with a full arm motion. Camera sensors have been developed to detect user movements, but the algorithms for those systems can only help the system detect rough motion and not precise movements.

The Regents of the University of California filed this patent application with the USPTO in January 2012 to protect a computing system that can detect and classify user movements. The system can utilize various motion capture devices, including those attached to the user’s body or a balance pad that a player stands on. Another system including an action mapping unit and a motion interpretation unit to map motion data in accordance with an action in a primary application.

The patent application mentions a few times how this invention can be used either indoors or outdoors. The description suggests that a user could take a certain part of the video game system, like the WiiFIT Balance Board, outside and complete exercises there, promoting outdoor activity. Some of the images attached to the application seem to focus on sensor equipment worn on the foot of a video game player to detect motion info.

Claim 1 of this University of California patent application would protect the rights to:

“A computer-readable medium storing instructions that, when executed by a computing device, cause the computing device to perform a method comprising: a. obtaining one or more signals from at least one motion capture device; and b. using a classification technique to classify a movement.”


Other Patent Applications

The University of California system is one of the nation’s most frequent patent applicants among academic institutions, and whenever we look at this collegiate system’s recent innovations, we’re struck by the wide range of research that it reflects. Genetic engineering is one area of science where this university system has been very active. For example, U.S. Patent Application No. 20140037696, entitled Synthetic Cell Platforms and Methods of Use Thereof, discusses improved methods of generating human embryonic stem cells. These systems, which ensures a much higher rate of survival among stem cells, can help medical laboratories scale up their production of stem cell-generated tissues. U.S. Patent Application No. 20140038296, titled Metabolic Engineering of Microbial Organisms, describes genetically engineered microbial organisms with useful carbohydrate production characteristics. These organisms can produce useful chemicals from renewable feedstocks instead of non-renewable petroleum products.

From U.S. Patent Application No. 20140037696, entitled “Synthetic Cell Platforms and Methods of Use Thereof.”

We also noticed a couple of intriguing medical technologies that the University of California is seeking to protect. U.S. Patent Application No. 20140018437, which is titled Treatment of Inflammatory and Infectious Skin Diseases, would protect a topical formula to help reduce the symptoms and spread of acne. This formula, which includes resveratrol in combination with benzoyl peroxide, is designed to reduce side effects of topical formulas which can include dryness and irritation. U.S. Patent Application No. 20140011197, filed under the title Alzheimer’s Disease Cellular Model for Diagnostic and Therapeutic Development, would protect a better system of programming stem cells to treat Alzheimer’s disease.



Issued Patents of Note

Universities and academic institutions have been at the center of some debate on patent licensing regulation in the United States. No matter how this area of innovation might change in the coming years, the University of California system is certainly one of the more accomplished collegiate systems where intellectual property is concerned. As always, we have an interesting assortment of issued patents in today’s article that give our readers an idea of the University of California’s recent patent awards.

Mass spectrometry for the detection of aerosol contaminants in industrial applications are at the center of a couple of patents issued to the university system within these past few months. U.S. Patent No. 8648294, entitled Compact Aerosol Time-of-Flight Mass Spectrometer, protects a mass spectrometry apparatus that can receive aerosol particles and conduct a deionization laser beam towards the aerosol particles. U.S. Patent No. 8626449, titled Biological Cell Sorting and Characterization Using Aerosol Mass Spectrometry, protects a classification system for aerosol particles based on the negative and positive ions given off by the material in the mass spectrometer. These technologies could be used to measure the presence of contaminants to maintain a clean working environment for employees and machinery.

From U.S. Patent No. 8,626,449, titled “Biological Cell Sorting and Characterization Using Aerosol Mass Spectrometry.”

A few other patents were issued to protect other medical technologies developed by the University of California. U.S. Patent No. 8636795, which is titled Device to Store and Inject Corneal Graft, protects a corneal graft device that enables surgeons to better conduct a cornea transplant. Better methods of diagnosing a malarial infection in an individual is protected by U.S. Patent No. 8628972, issued under the title Microfluidic Devices and Methods for Malaria Detection. This patent protects a microfluidic advice that can perform tests on a patient’s red blood cells to detect malarial behaviors. Finally, we also noticed U.S. Patent No. 8635031, entitled Methods for Identifying Drug Targets Based on Genomic Sequence Data. This patent protects a computer system for analyzing a genomic sequence to develop targeted medications; the patent seems to indicate that this system would be utilized heavily to protect against E. coli infections.

The Author

Steve Brachmann

Steve Brachmann is a freelance journalist located in Buffalo, New York. He has worked professionally as a freelancer for more than a decade. He writes about technology and innovation. His work has been published by The Buffalo News, The Hamburg Sun, USAToday.com, Chron.com, Motley Fool and OpenLettersMonthly.com. Steve also provides website copy and documents for various business clients and is available for research projects and freelance work.

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