Computing technologies are the main field of development for Fujitsu Ltd. of Tokyo, Japan, and the corporation’s diverse scope of innovation involves the creation of microelectronics, telecommunications systems and cloud computing services. Recently, Fujitsu announced that it would partner with the Japanese government to design an exascale machine, a computing device operating at 1,000 petaflops, a computing speed which is 30 times faster than the industry leading supercomputer today. In a theme we’ll see repeated in today’s Companies We Follow column, Fujitsu is also deeply invested in the development of biometric technologies, including the creation of authentication technologies in casino and gambling environments. A coalition of organizations including Fujitsu has also just created an optical transmissions technology capable of transmitting data at speeds of 400 gigabytes per second up to distances of 10,000 kilometers.
We return to the patent databases of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to scope out recent innovation from Fujitsu in today’s article. In viewing Fujitsu’s recently filed patent applications, we saw a multitude of inventions in the field of information processing, whether for the analysis of computing processes or virtualization of computing resources on physical servers. A couple of biometrics innovations are discussed, including a system of electrodes meant to detect and prevent a vehicle driver from becoming drowsy. Methods for enhanced online classroom discussions are also explored.
Fujitsu enjoys a very robust patent portfolio, and much of the company’s recent additions to that portfolio involve semiconductor devices. Many of the inventions which have been recently protected for Fujitsu are design to accommodate the further miniaturization of semiconductors for electronic applications. Technologies for converting voice data into useful textual objects on a computing device, as well as another biometrics innovation for better methods of authenticating a person, are also featured below.
Fujitsu’s Patent Applications: Plenty of Information Processing, Some Biometrics
Fujitsu is a company with a great focus on research and development, and the company’s innovation management principles place a premium on social and business innovations that can be realized through the creation of new information and communication technologies, an area of IT development sometimes referred to as ICT. The company is a major developer of IT services and is one of the world’s largest providers of these services for businesses and personal computing applications. Our recent survey of Fujitsu’s patent applications showed us a good deal of innovation in various kinds of electronic devices, whether for telecommunications or biometric processing uses.
We noticed a large number of patent applications filed to protect technologies related to devices used for information processing. Enhanced virtualization technologies for running a virtual machine on a physical server are discussed within U.S. Patent Application No. 20140298330, entitled Information Processing Device, Transmission Control Method, and Computer-Readable Recording Medium. The patent application would protect an information processing device with a memory for storing the address of a virtual machine and a processor for transmitting packets from a virtual machine to a destination. This process is designed to improve performance in communication between virtual machines located on different physical servers. Improved methods of clock synchronization for better analysis of processing requests made by a computing device user are discussed within U.S. Patent Application No. 20140297852, which is titled Information Processing Apparatus and Method Therefor. The information processing apparatus described herein includes a processor configured to obtain various pieces of time information related to a process, including requester time information and request-destination time, to calculate an execution period for the process. The technology is designed to reduce inconsistencies in time information logged by multiple devices, which can prevent accurate analysis of processing requests. We were also intrigued by an invention designed to improve the availability and reliability of newly generated data in a distributed storage system, explained by U.S. Patent Application No. 20140297973, filed under the title Storage System and Information Processing Apparatus. The patent application would protect a storage system with an information processing apparatus and a plurality of storage nodes. The storage nodes contains a number of data regions and a single parity region which corresponds to the data regions. The information processing apparatus can replicate a number of data elements and generating a parity corresponding to the data elements. The technology is designed to address shortcomings in the use of redundant arrays of independent disks (RAIDs).
We explored a few other interesting patent applications aimed at practical uses for a couple of biometric technologies developed by Fujitsu. Methods of preventing an operator of a vehicle from becoming drowsy while driving is the focus of U.S. Patent Application No. 20140296723, filed under the title Heartbeat Signal Processing Method. The patent application discloses the use of a heartbeat signal processing method for detecting first and second heartbeat signals and amplifying those signals based on calculated DC and AC voltage levels. The technology improves accuracy in detecting driver status through the use of steering wheel-mounted electrodes by reducing noise caused by other signal processing. Better techniques of using infrared light irradiation of a person’s palms for biometric authentication of that individual are described within U.S. Patent Application No. 20140294251, entitled Vein Authentication Method, Image Processing Method, and Vein Authentication Device. It explains a vein authentication method using a processor to convert pixel values of an image into frequency components, further filtering those components into low-frequency and high-frequency depending on the spatial relationship of veins within those image components. The innovative system is meant to improve the accuracy of vein authentication methods by reducing the effect of surface reflection of light on the surface of a person’s palms.
Educational technologies are also an area of development for Fujitsu, as we saw reflected in the technology disclosed by U.S. Patent Application No. 20140295396, which is titled Device and Method for Learning Support. It describes a computer-readable storage medium storing a program that collects opinion information from multiple information terminals within a group and determining minority and majority opinion information. The system is designed to improve class discussion systems within classes administered across information terminals by enabling a plurality of group opinions within a single discussion.
Waterproof electronic devices have been created in the past, but we were piqued by the improvement to these devices described within U.S. Patent Application No. 20140294217, titled Mobile Electronic Device and Method for Waterproofing Mobile Electronic Device. The patent application would protect a mobile electronic device with a housing, an acoustic component, a sound hole for allowing communication through the housing and a non-breathable waterproof film contained within the housing. The device of this invention has improved waterproof capabilities than other devices using porous protective sheets, which often lose their surface-active agents after being dropped in water multiple times, causing a loss of waterproofing function.
Issued Patents of Note: Semiconductor Innovations as well as More Biometrics and Virtual Machine Technologies
Fujitsu is definitely a major power player at the offices of the USPTO, and statistics released from the Intellectual Property Owners Association indicate that the company was the 14th-most innovative company in 2013, having obtained a total of 1,802 U.S. patent grants in that year. That total is very high, but it still represents a reduction of about 6 percent in the amount of patent grants earned by Fujitsu in the previous year. Our exploration of Fujitsu’s most recently issued patents saw many protected technologies in the field of semiconductor fabrication, although a wide scope of innovation was easy to find.
The creation of semiconductor devices with improved operational speed by applying stressing and other fabrication techniques is protected for the company through the issue of U.S. Patent No. 8853673, which is titled Semiconductor Device and Fabrication Method Thereof. The patent protects a semiconductor device with a silicon substrate, a gate-insulating film over the substrate with multiple mixed-crystal regions formed of a silicon-germanium alloy. The innovation is meant for the manufacture of ultra high-speed semiconductor devices with an ultrafine gate length of 100 nanometers or less. Improvements to complementary metal-oxide-semiconductors, or CMOS components, which are used in integrated circuits are protected by U.S. Patent No. 8847665, issued under the title Semiconductor Device and Method of Controlling Analog Switch. The patent protects a semiconductor device with an analog switch and a variable voltage circuit designed to determine the voltage potentials of transistors connected to the analog switch. The invention enables better maintenance of voltage levels across semiconductor terminals and prevents current from leaking away from the device. Both of the previous patents were issued to subsidiary Fujitsu Semiconductor Limited of Yokohama, Japan. Fujitsu Limited, the main patent assignee, has also been working on semiconductor innovations of its own, including the one protected by U.S. Patent No. 8856703, entitled Supporting Device, Design Support Method and Computer-Readable Recording Medium. The design supporting device protected is comprised of a calculator for determining the width and the length of circumference of a wiring arrangement within various regions of a circuit. The innovation is meant to reduce etching variations in wiring regions caused by increases in wiring layers and the miniaturization of semiconductor devices in recent years.
Virtual machines were a focus in our discussion of Fujitsu’s patent applications, and they’ve sprung up again in the language discussing the technology protected by U.S. Patent No. 8856786, entitled Apparatus and Method for Monitoring Communication Performed by a Virtual Machine. The invention involves the monitoring of virtual machine communications for improving communication security within a network. The patent protects a communications monitoring apparatus including a memory to store communication monitoring rules for each of the services that can be accessed by users of the virtual machine, such as Web access or file transfer services.
Biometric technologies were another area of Fujitsu development that we saw reflected in both patent applications as well as the U.S. patents recently issued to the corporation. U.S. Patent No. 8855378, issued under the title Biometric Authentication Device and Method, protects a device that can acquire a time-series of biological images through the repeated imaging of a biological part of an authenticated person in various relative positions. Much like the ‘251 patent application featured above, this technology has been designed to address drawbacks of surface reflection that can be created when light reflects off of the many non-planar surfaces of the human body. The many images captured in this system are composited so that the resulting image has no surface reflection.
Finally, we were drawn to a closer exploration of a speech-to-text technology protected through the recent issue of U.S. Patent No. 8849661, titled Method and System for Assisting Input of Text Information from Voice Data. There are many instances where the textual display of information in a cell phone is preferable, such as when communicating a phone number or an appointment time to another person. This patent protects a method of converting voice data into text data and tagging the text data so as to contextually identify the type of data it conveys, and displaying the text data and associated tags on a user interface. The text data is displayed as a draggable item so that a user can drag the text data to the application which can utilize that data.