The Panasonic Corporation of Osaka, Japan, is one of the largest electronics manufacturing companies in a country with many renowned corporations in that field, such as Sony and Hitachi. As we’ll discuss below, Panasonic is hoping to make a stir at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show with various kiosks showing off the company’s recent advancements in electric vehicles, avionics and business-to-business solutions. The North American International Auto Show occurring in Detroit will also be the place where Panasonic unveils its e-Cockpit technology, which provides a user-friendly interface for the center console and instrument cluster that reduces driver distraction. In mid-December, Panasonic announced that it would be building a new technology and business solutions hub in Denver, CO, which will employ 330 workers in a facility located near the Denver International Airport.
Our latest survey of the patents issued to Panasonic showed some very intriguing developments in the area of wireless charging systems, including one technology that encourages better heat dissipation in instances where large electrical loads are transmitted. Another patent protects a system of automatically collecting lifestyle information based on the interactions between a person and objects within a space. Readers may also be interested in the organic light-emitting diode display and compressed gas vehicle technologies reflected in patents which we’ve shared today.
We noticed a major focus on medical innovations in Panasonic patent applications. One of these discusses an improved orthodontic device for improving tooth alignment with vibration forces. Another patent application would protect a biochip having a stronger diaphragm section to work as a filtration device. Sustainable technologies which we feature include a system for removing carbon dioxide from a source as well as an improved configuration for fuel cells used in home energy systems.
Panasonic’s Issued Patents: From Wireless Charging Systems to Lifestyle Collecting Apparatuses
The Panasonic Corporation is among the strongest of the Companies We Follow in terms of U.S. patent grants. The Intellectual Property Owners Association ranked Panasonic 8th overall during 2013, the latest year for which we have complete statistics on U.S. patent grants, with 2,649 patents issued by the USPTO in that year. This represented a drop of just over six percent compared to Panasonic’s U.S. patent totals from the year before. The company has also made a strong showing in international patent filing in recent years, according to statistics published by the World Intellectual Property Organization. In October of last year, Panasonic entered into an agreement with Canadian IP licensing company WiLAN to transfer the rights and title to certain patents related to vending machine systems, the second such agreement between those two companies in as many years.
Wireless charging systems were an area of research and development focus for Panasonic where we found a couple of interesting patents that have been issued to the company in recent weeks. Techniques for the safe removal of excess heat generated by wireless power charging scenarios are disclosed and protected by U.S. Patent No. 8917511, titled Wireless Power Transfer System and Power Transmitting/Receiving Device With Heat Dissipation Structure. The invention is designed to support the safe dissipation of heat in wireless charging situations when large amounts of electric power are transmitted in such a way that doesn’t reduce the power transfer efficiency. The power transmitting/receiving device of this invention includes a heat dissipation structure with an electrically conductive thermal conductor which makes thermal contact with an inductor through an electrical insulator to transfer heat from the inductor to a distant location. A system of wireless power charging designed to provide a power supply for a lighting apparatus is the focus of U.S. Patent No. 8912730, which is titled Wireless Power Supply System for Lighting and Lighting Apparatus. The wireless power supply system of this invention has a power reception unit comprised of a power reception coil which receives electric power as well as a power circuit which performs a Buck-Boost operation to output a predetermined electric power to a lighting load. The Buck-Boost operation of this invention reduces instability of the powered supplied to the lighting load that can occur when the output voltage of the power reception coil fluctuates.
As we’ll go on to note later in this article, Panasonic has various intellectual properties in the field of organic light-emitting diode (OLED) displays. Another patent in this field was recently added to the company’s portfolio: U.S. Patent No. 8907358, which is titled Organic Light-Emitting Panel, Manufacturing Method Thereof, and Organic Display Device (Fig. 4 is pictured left). The organic light-emitting panel claimed here has a plurality of light-emitting cells arranged in an alignment with each cell having an underlying layer and a plurality of banks which are structured to define each light-emitting cell by separating them. The sidewalls created by the banks included in this display have different inclination angles which makes it possible to adjust the pinning location of the ink to create a more uniform film thickness across an entire OLED panel for an even luminance.
An innovative system for matching a display to a user’s lifestyle preferences is disclosed in U.S. Patent No. 8909636, which is titled Lifestyle Collecting Apparatus, User Interface Device, and Lifestyle Collecting Method (Figures 15 and 16 are pictured right). The patent claims a method of providing a user interface to a user with a lifestyle collecting apparatus that detects object information regarding objects around a user, determining a relevance degree of a user with respect to the object, determining appearance information representing an object’s appearance and determining a material of a display object to be displayed by an information processing apparatus of a user. The invention is directed at creating an ambient wall display that can display images representative of a user’s lifestyle without the need for a user to manually input lifestyle information.
A bicycle which utilizes a gas compression braking system is the focus of U.S. Patent No. 8919485, issued under the title Vehicle Using Compressed Gas, and Control Device Therefor. The patent protects a vehicle that runs with an air engine with a control device that operates a control valve so that the target output of gas machinery is obtained. This innovation is designed to improve safety in vehicles utilizing compressed gas energy when a turnover is experienced, which may crack the piping of gas machinery, while also providing a mechanism for identifying symptoms of cracked compressed gas piping much more simply.
We also wanted to share with our readers a Panasonic development in the field of consumer digital cameras, which is protected by U.S. Patent No. 8913333, entitled Lens Barrel and Imaging Device. The invention described here enables the use of contrast detection systems for auto-focusing with a compact barrel lens for a lightweight focal lens unit. The patent claims a lens barrel with two lens units as well as a drive unit for driving the second lens unit with respect to the first lens unit; the drive unit is also fixed to the first lens unit so that the profile line made by the drive unit and first lens unit is substantially circular.
Patent Applications of Note: Plenty of Medical Technologies and Alternative Energy Solutions
Panasonic is one of the technology companies regularly featured on the Companies We Follow series which has a broad range of innovative research and development activities which it supports. In July of last year, Panasonic announced a joint venture with INCJ, JDI and Sony for the development of OLED display panels for mobile PCs, tablets and signage. At the beginning of December, Panasonic kicked off its development of the Fujisawa Sustainable Smart Town (SST), a 19-hectare area southwest of Tokyo that will accommodate 3,000 people by its 2018 completion date; the goal is to create a community where each house contributes zero carbon emissions. Consumer device innovation has also been strong at the company, evidenced by the recognition of Panasonic as a 2015 CES Innovation Awards Honoree for the company’s LUMIX LX100 Digital Camera, which has stereoscopic (3D) imaging and 4k video capture capabilities.
We’ll start off today’s analysis of Panasonic’s recent innovations with a look at a trio of novel technologies developed for medical fields. An improved apparatus for observing cultured cells and other microorganisms in a decontaminated environment is discussed within U.S. Patent Application No. 20140356942, filed under the title Isolator (shown left). The isolator that would be protected includes a working chamber in which a worker performs a task and a storage chamber that maintains an airtight state while in communication with the working chamber through an opening in a bottom plate of the working chamber. This isolator apparatus can be installed in a smaller space and is also configured to better protect an observation device when moving the device between the storage chamber and the working chamber.
A better design for a microchip that measures physiological characteristics of a human or animal body is described by U.S. Patent Application No. 20140367257, which is titled Biochip and Biodevice Using the Same. The biochip claimed here includes a plate-like diaphragm part having a through-hole, a wall part provided around the periphery of the diaphragm part and a reinforcing part formed in a part other than the through-hole. The reinforcing part of this biochip strengthens the diaphragm part, allowing it to serve filtration purposes within the body while reducing the risk of damaging the diaphragm because of flow pressure.
We were also intrigued by the novel orthodontic therapy and device explained within U.S. Patent Application No. 20140335467, which is titled Vibration Imparting Device for Dental Use (shown right). This technology is designed to capitalize on the discovery that vibrating forces imparted to a tooth can improve teeth alignment without the physical or physiological burdens imposed by continuous forces imparted by a bracket device. The patent application would protect a vibrating dental device for vibrating a specific tooth and teeth in a dentition to which an orthodontic device is attached; vibrations are transmitted through a contact portion which is detachably connected to the orthodontic device.
We took note of a couple of technologies which could be incorporated into the Fujisawa SST sustainability project that we described at the top of this section. The use of fuel cells to provide electricity within the home would be aided by the technology laid out within U.S. Patent Application No. 20140377672, filed under the title Hydrogen Generator and Fuel Cell System. This improved fuel cell system is designed to reduce issues with poor booster performance that can occur when steam condenses in the hydrogen-containing gas before passing through the booster. The patent application claims a hydrogen generator with a reformer generating a hydrogen-containing gas, a hydro-desulfurizer which removes a sulfur compound from the raw material and a recycle passage through which the raw material flows on its way towards the hydro-desulfurizer. A high-efficiency cell for the removal of carbon dioxide from a source is at the center of U.S. Patent Application No. 20140346053, entitled Carbon Dioxide Reducing Method, Carbon Dioxide Removing Cell, and Carbon Dioxide Removing Apparatus. The carbon dioxide reducing method that is claimed includes an anode chamber and a cathode chamber, each containing an electrolytic solution, a proton exchange membrane disposed between those chambers. A light is irradiated onto the anode to reduce the carbon dioxide contained within the electrolytic solution in the cathode chamber.
An enhanced system for utilizing image data to better determine how to guide a vehicle towards an electrical charging unit is laid out within U.S. Patent Application No. 20140371966, which is titled Vehicle Guidance Device and Vehicle Guidance Method. The vehicle guidance apparatus claimed by the patent application is mounted on a vehicle and receives power from a power supply section in a non-contact state and guides a vehicle towards the power supply section by calculating a power supply efficiency as well as a power supply efficiency change amount. This innovation is intended to improve the charging of electric vehicle through non-contact power supply units by helping a vehicle driver better position the vehicle so that the power supply unit and power receiving unit are within an optimal charging distance.
We were also fascinated by a Panasonic innovation for retail store environments which helps store management better understand the demographics of customers entering their establishment. U.S. Patent Application No. 20140334718, titled Human Attribute Estimation System, Human Attribute Estimation Apparatus and Human Attribute Estimation Method, would protect a human attribute estimation system connected to multiple cameras which capture images of a human subject for attribute estimation; the system also involves the use of a earning data acquiring section which can generate parameters that influence estimations made by the human attribute estimation method. This invention increases the accuracy of age/gender attribute estimation made by systems implemented by multiple cameras monitoring subjects within a store.