Hitachi: A Variety of Diverse Innovation, Medical to Construction

By Steve Brachmann
May 11, 2014

Hitachi, Ltd., headquartered in the capital city of Tokyo, Japan, is the parent company of a very diverse collection of corporate partners in eleven business segments, including social infrastructure, financial services, automotive systems, digital media as well as consumer products. The conglomerate is responsible for many incredible innovations and technologies, including what will soon become the world’s fastest elevator, transporting passengers in Guangzhou, China, at an average speed of 45 miles per hour. A successful business in its home country, Hitachi Group companies also run major profitable business operations in many other countries, including Canada.

IPWatchdog’s Companies We Follow series has never profiled Hitachi in the past, but our first foray into their recent technological developments make them a good subject for our analysis. Recently, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has published a great number of patent applications filed by Hitachi Group companies, more than 100 applications in just a few weeks. Hitachi corporations have also been issued dozens of U.S. patent grants over the same period of time.

Medical technologies are a major focus for many of the Companies We Follow, and our featured application today discuss one novel Hitachi innovation designed to improve patient care. This innovation provides a tile-based interface for providing biological information and medical advice to either patients or doctors, respectively. Improvements to heavy industry vehicle designs as well as an intriguing system of software analysis for farmland planning.

Our coverage of Hitachi’s recently patented technologies brought us a closer look at more interesting inventions in more heavy machinery, especially construction vehicles, as well as a useful automotive system of obstacle detection to reduce the risk of nighttime pedestrian accidents. Other patents we cover include a downwind type of wind turbine and a mobile X-ray device similar to those we’ve seen developed by other corporations.

[Companies-1]

 

Health Management Apparatus, Method, and Program
U.S. Patent Application No. 20140122101

We’ve recently covered a number of corporations developing various health care and medical technologies in our Companies We Follow series, including Canon and Fujitsu. Systems for monitoring patients at medical facilities, blood pressure monitors and mobile X-ray machines are just a few of the interesting technologies related to health care that we’ve profiled in just the past few weeks.

Improving communication between doctors and their patient would improve healthcare objectives in various ways. In order to provide the proper care, medical staff need to be made aware of any major changes in a patient’s blood pressure or other vital information. As well, doctors need to make sure that important medical information is presented to patients so that they can understand it and follow any dietary restrictions or other guidelines.

This patent application, filed by Hitachi, Ltd., with the USPTO in March 2013, would protect a health care system that works to improve communication in either direction between a patient and a medical professional. This system provides more specific information pertinent to a patient’s condition to medical professionals instead of a list of non-specific biological information. This presents information in such a way that a doctor can make an intelligible decision on a patient’s healthcare needs in a much shorter amount of time.

The display screen of this health care apparatus displays biographical information of a patient in tile format. Various pieces of information, including hospital attendance, medicine schedule and biographical information is presented in an clear and easy to understand format to both patients and doctors. Users can interact with the display by touching a tile with their finger to bring up actionable steps or other advice for alleviating any medical concerns.

Claim 1 of this Hitachi patent application would give the corporation the right to protect:

“A health care apparatus comprising: a storage unit for storing a first information group which is a set of a plurality of schedule information pieces, a second information group which is a set of a plurality of biological system information pieces, and a third information group which is a set of a plurality of comment information pieces; and a controller for associating individual information pieces included in the first information group, individual information pieces included in the second information group, and individual information pieces included in the third information group with each other on the basis of coincidence or resemblance among words included in the individual information pieces, the controller displaying the first information group in a first area of a screen on an output device connected to the controller, the controller displaying the second information group in a second area of the screen, the controller displaying the third information group in a third area of the screen, the controller accepting arbitrary one selected out of the individual information pieces included in the first information group, the second information group, or the third information group, and the controller displaying other individual information pieces associated with the selected individual information piece with emphasis.”

[Companies-2]

 

Other Patent Applications

From U.S. Patent Application No. 20140124280, titled “Construction machine.”

Hitachi itself is a massive conglomerate of corporate subsidiaries involved in a wide range of electronics and engineering developments. Today, we were intrigued by a number of innovations described in patent applications filed by this company which relate to heavy industrial machines like excavators. For instance, U.S. Patent Application No. 20140124280, which is titled Construction Machine, would protect a technology designed to improve the comfort of heavy machinery operators while in the cabin of an excavator or crane. Filed in July 2012 by Hitachi Construction Machinery, one of the many Hitachi Group companies, it discusses a new placement for an air conditioning filter which reduces the rate at which the filter gets clogged with sand or dirt. U.S. Patent Application No. 20140124285, filed under the title Work Machine, describes a new engine exhaust system for work machines like wheel loaders or excavators. This design mitigates issues resulting from the heavy vibration of exhaust emission control devices, which impacts the durability and reliability of these devices, ensuring that more emission particulate can be removed from exhaust gas.

Our other patent applications which we’re including in today’s analysis of Hitachi inventions are both intriguing technologies developed for novel real-world applications in industries that aren’t typically targeted for software services. For example, methods for providing visualizations of physical space in storage systems are the focus of U.S. Patent Application No. 20140122677, titled Storage System and License Management Method. This invention alleviates a problem in assigning licenses in early storage system visualization programs caused by data migration across a multitude of virtual controllers, making it difficult to add or delete those who would have access to a storage space. We were also piqued by the innovation detailed in U.S. Patent Application No. 20140122175, entitled Simulation Device for Liquidation of Farmland. This patent application would protect a device and system created to determine the possibility of farmland liquidation based on the age of a farmer and the availability of any successors, as well as long-term plans for crop conversion or farmland liquidation.

 

Issued Patents of Note

From U.S. Patent No. 8714656, titled “Travel Drive Device for Dump Truck.”

Hitachi may not be the largest corporate player in the field of patent protections. Recent statistics on the companies earning the most patents in 2013 places Hitachi 26th in the world with 1,106 U.S. patent grants during that year, also making it 11th-best among Japanese companies for patent filings. Still, the diverse nature of this conglomerate’s technological innovations make them a great organization to feature for the Companies We Follow series. An amazing variety of inventions have been patented in recent weeks by Hitachi and its subsidiaries, and we wanted to share our favorites with you.

We noticed an incredible number of industrial innovations which suggest to us that Hitachi is trying to increase its holdings in construction and heavy industrial technologies. U.S. Patent No. 8714656, issued under the title Travel Drive Device for Dump Truck, protects a method of manufacturing a more stable travel drive device to enable dump trucks to carry loads of pulverized stone or other materials in quantities of 250 tons or more. We were also intrigued by U.S. Patent No. D704202, a design patent entitled Construction Machine Display with Graphic User Interface. This design patent protects an innovative GUI display within a construction machine that provides clear information to operators and allows them better control of the machine. Another automotive innovation, albeit not specifically for heavy industrial vehicles, is protected by U.S. Patent No. 8705796, which is titled Obstacle Detection Device. The device protected by this patent includes an image acquisition component, and a processor for determining obstacles present in those images. This system is designed to better determine dark obstacles against dark backgrounds, such as a pedestrian walking at night, to improve driving safety in vehicles utilizing this technology.

From U.S. Patent No. 8705669, titled “Mobile X-Ray Device.”

Today’s profile of Hitachi’s patented inventions will wrap up with a close look at some technologies providing interesting new products in the fields of energy generation and health care. Advanced forms of alternative energy generation from wind is the ultimate goal of the technology protected by U.S. Patent No. 8716878, titled Downwind Type Wind Turbine Having Transformer Therein and Operating Method Thereof. This new wind turbine design seeks to mitigate issues associated with installing downwind wind turbines in locations where they would be more effective but there’s a lack of area for installation, including mountainous or sea environments.

Finally, we thought it was important to at least take a glance at U.S. Patent No. 8705669, entitled Mobile X-Ray Device. Although this patent is assigned jointly to Hitachi as well as the fellow Japanese corporation Fujifilm, it protects a mobile X-ray device transported by means of a cart. This is a technology we’ve seen other corporations trying to develop; our recent coverage of Canon’s technologies, linked the Canon device, this patent discusses that company’s goals of patenting a battery-powered X-ray device mounted on a cart for easy transporting within medical facilities. This Hitachi/Fujifilm innovation provides a light cart that moves easily and also includes its own sources of power for better energy efficiency.

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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