Samsung Patents Focus on Nanotech and Augmented Reality

By Steve Brachmann
December 5, 2014

Samsung headquarters in South Korea.

As of this writing, Samsung has entered some turbulent waters in the ocean of smartphone technologies, and the company may shake-up the administration of its mobile business because of an unforeseen drop in profits. Samsung is trying to protect its mobile business in the United States through the court system as it’s recently petitioned the U.S. International Trade Commission to block sales of Nvidia mobile graphics processing chips on patent infringement claims. Other restructuring efforts within the corporation, including the takeover of Samsung Engineering by Samsung Heavy Industries for $2.5 billion, have run up against opposition from shareholders.

The corporation is also in the middle of some major restructuring, having just announced the sale of four Samsung Group firms for about $1.72 billion, including defense technology developer Samsung Techwin. Innovation in personal computing services are still strong at the company and technologies like the EyeCan+, which allows users to access computing functions by moving their eyes, will continue to support revolutionary Samsung products and services. Recent comments from the CEO of virtual reality developer Oculus VR should be a harbinger of greater investment in augmented and virtual reality on behalf of Samsung.

Still, despite what else may be going on at Samsung we can always count on the fact that they will be filing and receiving patents. Our recent look at Samsung for our Companies We Follow series found plenty of innovations that many consumers around the world can look forward to in the coming months and years. Nanotechnologies utilized for the creation of light-emitting diodes and liquid crystal displays have been protected for the company recently, as a number of patents we explore below show. Other areas of strong research and development activity within the company includes robotics, alternative energies and virtual reality systems, each of which we discuss in further detail today.

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Light-Emitting Devices and Displays, Especially Those With Nanostructures 

Samsung develops and manufactures an incredible array of consumer devices which are sold all over the world. Many of those products, including smartphones and televisions, require light-emitting diode (LED) and liquid crystal display (LCD) technologies so that users can view the digital content processed and presented by these devices. Samsung has been making some strategic investments in LED technologies, including a sizable recent investment in Kateeva of Menlo Park, CA, a developer of organic LEDs (OLEDs) for small-display electronic devices.

From U.S. Patent No. 8890533, titled “Apparatus for Inspecting Light Emitting Diode Package and Inspecting Method Using the Same.”

The development of flexible LEDs and other light-emitting devices has been an area of research and development focus for Samsung which has paid off in a number of recent patents which caught our eyes. U.S. Patent No. 8889442, which is titled Flexible Semiconductor Device and Method of Manufacturing the Same, claims a method of transferring semiconductor elements that involves forming a plurality of vertical semiconductor elements and then forming inorganic insulating layers on the surfaces of those elements. This, along with other polymer application, curing and etching techniques, are intended to create a range of optoelectronic devices, from LEDs to photovoltaic devices, using flexible semiconductors. Methods for improving the manufacture of LED devices is protected by U.S. Patent No. 8890533, titled Apparatus for Inspecting Light Emitting Diode Package and Inspecting Method Using the Same. The apparatus for inspecting an LED package protected by this patent includes an inspection unit for identifying defects and a defective product rejection unit which punches a single defective LED away from a series of working LEDs. Defective LEDs are then dropped through a discharge hole into a waste box. This technology is intended to improve the process of inspecting LED for inspections over conventional methods of human inspectors using naked eye inspection.

We were intrigued to notice some overlap into nanotechnology fields in some of Samsung’s LED and display inventions. Samsung has been gaining commercial success for its nanotech developments; its Galaxy Gear smartwatch and similar mobile computing products utilize nanotech in the fabrication of their electronic components, supporting ever more computing functions in devices of smaller sizes. Techniques for growing semiconductor nanostructures are the focus of U.S. Patent No. 8890184, issued under the title Nanostructured Light-Emitting Device. The patent claims a light-emitting device with a plurality of nanostructures in a first semiconductor layer, each of the nanostructures having a three-dimensional nano-core which is shaped as a cone, a pyramid or a column. The nanostructures of this invention are more conducive to the uniform formation of a p-type semiconductor layer, which is required for the fabrication of LEDs. Nanotechnology involving liquid crystal displays has been a recent research focus for Samsung, as is evidenced by the issue of U.S. Patent No. 8885135, which is titled Nanostructure-Film LCD Devices. This innovation is designed to support the manufacture of in-plane switching (IPS) liquid crystal displays (LCD), which have high electrical conductivity as well as high optical transparency. The patent protects an LCD device comprised of a housing which includes a lower polarizer plate, a liquid crystal layer on top of the polarizer plate, a nanostructure film on top of that and finally an upper polarizer plate to sandwich the film and liquid crystal layer.

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Electronic Glasses and Other Augmented Reality Innovations

The introduction of electronics into glasses and other wearable gadgets is an interesting topic which we’ve recently covered here on IPWatchdog. Recently, Samsung has been getting ready to square off against Google in European markets, as the Samsung Gear S and Google Glass electronic glass products will be the major competitors in wearable tech for this holiday season. Often, people assume that the virtual and augmented reality services implemented by these electronic products are for fun and entertainment, but they could permeate many more aspects of our lives, with some even speculating their use in retail environments.

We felt like sharing a few patents with our readers which are protecting some key elements of the electronic glasses being developed for consumers by Samsung. For example, methods of coupling electronic glasses to a three-dimensional display are protected through the issue of U.S. Patent No. 8892039, entitled Three-Dimension (3D) Glasses and Method for Controlling Power and Pairing Thereof. The patent protects a method of controlling the power and pairing of 3D glasses with a display apparatus which involves sensing whether or not the glasses are being worn and scanning for 3D data inputs. The innovation is intended to improve on methods of pairing glasses and display apparatuses through Bluetooth, which involves the inconvenience of user authentication every time a connection is made. Methods of reducing power consumption in 3D glasses to extend battery life are the focus of U.S. Patent No. 8890772, which is titled Glasses Apparatus and Power Supply Apparatus. The patent claims a glasses apparatus interlocking with a 3D display device and a method for receiving DC voltage feedback to enable effective control of a DC/DC converter. The resulting innovation reduces power consumption within the glasses while also utilizing low-cost materials to make mass production more cost-effective.

From U.S. Patent No. 8890803, titled “Gesture Control System.”

While we were checking out the above electronic glasses innovations, we also came across some augmented reality patents that provide evidence of Samsung’s pursuit of intellectual property in this field. A type of online lobby which provides a more immersive experience to users than conventional chat rooms is the topic of U.S. Patent No. 8892629, which is titled System and Method for Displaying a Virtual Meeting Room. The system claimed by the patent comprises a plurality of electronic devices communicating across a network. Each of the devices has a graphical user interface through which an online lobby application can be presented to users. The online lobby application supports a variety of activities, including text chatting, video conferencing, audio conferencing and multiplayer gaming. The control of electronics through gestures is an important element of augmented reality systems, which is why we took note of U.S. Patent No. 8890803, which is titled Gesture Control System. The innovation is intended to improve the use of mobile phone cameras to control external devices through gestural inputs in low lighting conditions, when gestural inputs may be difficult to detect. The patent claims a method of gesture control for devices involving a mobile phone camera obtaining sequential frames of an object and generating a signal pattern from the frames of light intensity in a certain direction. According to diagrams, it appears as though this technology could be implemented for gestural control of slideshow projections.

 

Enhanced Technologies for Smartphones and Other Computing Products

Recently released reports from Samsung which indicate a loss of profits in the corporation’s mobile sector has caused a great deal of consternation among executives and shareholders. Along with a speculated administrative shakeup, Samsung has announced that it will reduce the number of new smartphone models released next year by one-third; it has already removed 500 engineers from its mobile division. Much of this is due to challenges in the Chinese market, where Apple’s iPhone has entered the market and other Android manufacturers have been able to beat Samsung’s products on price.

Even with all of the talk of trouble for Samsung’s mobile electronics activities, we still found an array of patent applications filed in this field, and we’re sharing a trio of them below. Contactless methods of charging an electronic device for use are explored within U.S. Patent Application No. 20140340030, which is titled Magnetic Sheet and Noncontact Charging System Using the Same. This invention is intended to support the miniaturization of electronic devices using noncontact forms of charging by thinning the magnetic sheet used to supply voltage from a power supply apparatus to a power receiving apparatus. The patent application would protect a magnetic sheet with a plate-shaped magnetic member and a dielectric layer disposed within the magnetic member to shield a magnetic flux generated in a thickness direction of the magnetic member.

From U.S. Patent Application No. 20140334691, which is titled “Method and System for Providing Cooking Information About Food.”

Enhanced security methods for personal electronic devices would be protected by U.S. Patent Application No. 20140344918, filed under the title Method and Electronic Device for Providing Security. This patent application claims a method of operating an electronic device with at least one sensor for measuring physical quantity which can determine a current status, such as whether the device is being carried or has been left by a user, and adjusting the device’s security level accordingly. This system is intended to create multiple levels of security for an electronic device in a sleep mode, a lower one when the device is carried with a user and a higher level if the device is left somewhere by the user.

Samsung is also using mobile devices to try and lend a hand in the kitchen with the technology within U.S. Patent Application No. 20140334691, which is titled Method and System for Providing Cooking Information About Food. This patent application would protect a method of providing information about cooking food that involves receiving an image of ingredients on a plate, determining a food recommendation based on the ingredients and obtaining cooking information for that food recommendation. This system could allow a user to take a picture of food in their fridge or pantry to find out dish recipes using those ingredients.

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.

Warning & Disclaimer: The pages, articles and comments on IPWatchdog.com do not constitute legal advice, nor do they create any attorney-client relationship. The articles published express the personal opinion and views of the author and should not be attributed to the author’s employer, clients or the sponsors of IPWatchdog.com. Read more.

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