The Xerox Corporation Ltd. of Norwalk, CT, is a major developer of a range of printing and imaging technologies, as well as a number of service-related computer systems for various industries. The company was founded in 1906 in Rochester, NY, by 1981 National Inventors Hall of Fame inductee Chester F. Carlson, the inventor of xerography, or dry printing. At a recent shareholder meeting, Xerox’s CEO Ursula Burns indicated that the corporation will focus on its profitable service-related business; the company expects that services products will make up 66 percent of its revenue by 2017. Xerox has been trying to increase its offerings in the medical services world, currently vying for a $500 million contract to manage New York State’s Medicaid system as well as acquiring companies in the medical billing services and health insurance sector. Xerox has also lately been involved as part of a consortium of corporations working to develop driverless technologies for cars.
Today in IPWatchdog’s Companies We Follow series, we take our first in-depth look at the inventions which have lately sprung from the minds of researchers and developers working at Xerox’s various facilities. Our look at recently published patent applications and issued patents from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office undoubtedly brought us plenty of printing innovations, but also some other novel computing technologies that will show our readers some other sides of this company’s R&D goals.
We start out today with an extensive look at one patent application filed by Xerox that would protect a method for less intrusive monitoring of a patient’s respiratory functions. This system uses 2D video in conjunction with a distortion pattern worn on the subject’s chest to determine lung volume and activity. Other patent applications we feature today discuss a variety of environmentally-friendly and sustainable inks as well as one innovation that would allow copy machines to detect that a human operator is nearby and enter normal operating mode.
Our look at Xerox’s recently issued patents show a much wider scope of innovation, including a couple of patents protecting technologies to improve public transportation and intelligent transport systems (ITS). Another intriguing patent protects a method for embedding infrared marks on a document to prevent against forgery. Sentiment analysis of informal language found on social media networks is the focus of another patent which we discuss below.
Respiratory Function Estimation From a 2D Monocular Video
U.S. Patent Application No. 20140142435
The monitoring of respiratory activity and function in older adults can aid in getting effective medical care to patients when they need it. Fatal respiratory events caused by pulmonary disease or respiratory failure may present themselves without much warning. The collection of real-time data that can be analyzed to determine lung functionality in patients and present that information to medical staff and emergency personnel would be beneficial to various patient care environments.
There are a number of drawbacks to current methods of monitoring patient respiratory activity, however. These systems usually rely on the use of a medical device worn by a patient that captures data through a variety of electronic sensors. Methods like this are often cumbersome to patients and can result in discomfort as well as negative emotional impacts. Methods of analyzing video data would be less intrusive, but it’s difficult for video processing systems to determine 3D volumetric data from 2D monocular video streams.
Xerox filed this patent application with the USPTO in November 2012 to protect a cost-effective video processing method that allows for the collection of meaningful data related to a patient’s respiratory function from 2D video streams. This system is capable of analyzing video to determine various aspects of respiratory functionality, including minute ventilation, tidal chest volume and respiration rate.
To enable the video processing system to analyze 2D monocular video, a patient is outfitted with a pattern that better displays distortion in a patient’s thoracic region, or chest area, as well as side views. The pattern is capable of showing spatial characteristics of the distortion when compared against a reference image. Along with respiratory failure and pulmonary disease, this system would also be able to detect potentially fatal respiratory events in cases of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and certain patterns of unexpected hospital deaths.
Claim 1 of this Xerox patent application would give this company the right to protect:
“A method for processing a video acquired using a 2D monocular video acquisition system to assess respiratory function of a subject of interest in a remote sensing environment, the method comprising: receiving a video of a target region of a subject of interest being monitored for respiratory function assessment, said video having been acquired using a 2D monocular video acquisition system, said target region having a detectable pattern thereon, said pattern being one of: reflective and emissive in a given wavelength, said wavelength being detectable by sensor elements in a detector array of said camera during acquisition of said video; processing said video to construct a temporal sequence of 3D surface maps of said patterned target region, said 3D surface maps being reconstructed by characterizing spatial attributes of a spatial distortion of said pattern over time relative to spatial characteristics of an undistorted reference pattern; and estimating a respiratory function for said subject using said sequence of 3D surface maps.”
Other Patent Applications
From printers to photocopiers to other multifunction systems, the Xerox Corporation is involved with a great deal of innovation in the world of imaging and image forming. Many of this company’s innovations are also geared for enterprise or business solutions for various printing systems. For example, U.S. Patent Application No. 20140140716, entitled Image Forming Apparatus for Detecting a Human Using a Human Detecting Device, describes a system of detecting human users who wish to operate an image forming device like a copier. This human detecting device would enable the image forming apparatus to operate in a standby mode when a human user isn’t nearby. Although we were intrigued by this patent application, and it is assigned to a business partnering with Xerox, it should be noted that it’s actually assigned to Fuji Xerox, a joint partnership with Japanese-based Fujifilm, of which Xerox is a minority member.
A number of inks are at the center of discussion for another trio of patent applications which caught our eyes today here at IPWatchdog. U.S. Patent Application No. 20140137768, which is titled Bio-Renewable Phase Change Inks Comprising Recycled Resin Materials, would protect an ink that is solid at room temperature and liquid when heated. The phase change ink is constructed from completely derived from bio-renewable and recycled materials and is designed for use on coated paper substrates. Environmentally friendly ink production is also at the core of U.S. Patent Application No. 20140134534, filed under the title Sustainable Toner. This toner is composed of biodegradable materials, such as bio-based polyacid or polyester reagents, collected from recycled plastic sources. Improved ink compositions for particular colors are described within U.S. Patent Application No. 20140137769, titled Pigmented Magenta and Yellow Phase Change Inks. This patent application would protect a formula for creating more robust inks that provide magenta and yellow pigments, colors which have a chemical makeup that reduces proper color disbursement while printing.
Issued Patents of Note
The Xerox Corporation was 32nd overall among all corporations receiving U.S. patents during 2013, with 1,013 patent grants in that year; the Fuji Xerox partnership yielded another 800 patents during that year. Although our profile of this company’s patent applications featured mainly printing and ink innovations, we’re finding a wider scope of intellectual property protected through patents issued recently by the USPTO.
Inventions directed at improving the driving or public transit experience for many people were detailed in a couple of patents which we noticed today. Methods of gathering more accurate data on actual traveler patterns on public transportation systems are protected by U.S. Patent No. 8731835, which is titled System and Method for Trip Plan Crowdsourcing Using Automatic Fare Collection Data. This patent protects a system that collects validated rider fare information for passenger data used by a trip planning system implemented through a computer, tablet computer or cell phone. U.S. Patent No. 8731244, issued under the title System and Methods for Improving Image Recognition, protects a system that can analyze an image to determine license plate information. This automatic license plate recognition system, developed for use in intelligent transport systems (ITS), improves the ability of traffic enforcement cameras to detect accurate license plate information during poor weather or other conditions that make sensing that data difficult.
We were very intrigued by the spirit of one patent protecting a means for providing definitions for informal terms and language used in social media networks. U.S. Patent No. 8725495, titled Systems, Methods and Devices for Generating an Adjective Sentiment Dictionary for Social Media Sentiment Analysis, protects a system of referencing social media language against a set of seed words which indicate a positive or negative sentiment value. This system enables better sentiment analysis of informal language used in online message boards, weblogs and social networking websites.
Finally, we wrap up with a pair of patents that return our focus to Xerox’s main printing and image forming technologies. More cost-effective methods of managing a plurality of printing devices are protected by U.S. Patent No. 8730502, entitled Method and System for Managing Print Jobs Using a Cloud Administration System. This cloud-based system for managing print jobs utilizes a submission module and a processing module to provide a more efficient means for printing across networks connected to many devices. Finally, we were intrigued by the technology developed to prevent against forged printing detailed in U.S. Patent No. 8730527, which is titled Embedding Infrared Marks in Gloss Security Printing. This patented system uses a marking engine to apply an embedded infrared mark onto important documents which cannot be reproduced by digital copiers or reverse engineered through other means.