IBM Patents Your Digital Life
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  1. #1
    XCR Guru Difranco's Avatar
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    IBM Patents Your Digital Life

    IBM has been granted a patent that describes an idea how to manage every move you make and every word you say with the purpose of storing that data in an environment that resembles the walls of your digital life. Of course, IBM has not invented this technology: It simply had an idea how it could look like if someone were to invent it.

    Reading the pages of granted patents and patent filings these days requires a certain sense of tolerance and humor. Or, you could simply consider patent filings as a way how corporations compete with each other in an almost playful way. Take IBM, for example. IBM received 4914 patents in 2009, up 17% from the year before. Samsung was at 3611, and the two are apparently in a game that has the goal to outpatent the other. This week, IBM received 106 patents vs. Samsung’s 129. Last week, IBM won 135 vs. 132 and the week before 141 vs. 139. It’s usually close and both usually are granted well more than 100 patents week by week.

    Not all of these patents make a lot of sense to the average person and they may make the average person wonder why there should be a patent for an idea that the average person may perceive as common sense. An example: Patent# 8,014,573. “Digital life recording and playback.” We don’t read all the patents that are granted every week (we read quite a few, though), but this one certainly caught our attention. IBM applied for it in January of 2008.

    Here is the abstract:

    The illustrative embodiments described herein provide a computer implemented method, apparatus, and computer program product for managing data. A plurality of devices dynamically capture data associated with the daily activities of a person. The data is transmitted to a mobile device associated with the person. The data is processed and then stored into a cache of the mobile device. The data stored in the cache of the mobile device is uploaded into a repository mass store in response to interfacing the mobile device with the repository mass store. A selected data segment stored in the repository mass store is presented in response to receiving a request for the selected data segment.



    An attempt to sort the 17 different patent claims can easily result in a headache, but we believe that we successfully broke the claims down to (1) a variety of already existing and yet to be invented data (life) recording devices, (2) a method to store the captured data, (3) the idea to tag recordings to associate different data sets with each other and allow them to be provided to others and (4) to display previous recordings. After a few minutes of reading and re-reading, we got the impression that this technology already exists – minus the silly life recorders we would carry around with us all the time. Many of us call that technology Facebook.

    IBM envisions that a life recorder would capture pictures, video and sound and tie our movements to timestamps, geolocation data and would throw biometric data into the equation. Our personal favorite is a camera that automatically delivers a 360-degree view of field in a person’s location. Computer hardware stores all the data and sends it around between mobile devices; computer software generates the meta data and manages your digital life – and displays it upon request. Call me old-fashioned, but that is about the last technology I would want to carry around with me.

    My personal opinion aside, I am stunned how bluntly a patent can be granted that describes a technology that has not been invented yet. Here is an example that describes the digital life recorder:

    As depicted in FIG. 3, [see image above] the video capturing devices are positioned on the person to capture a 360 degree field of view around the person. Additionally, a set of audio capturing devices may be positioned around the person. A set of biometric sensors captures physiological data associated with the person, such as, but not limited to, the heart rate of the person. A set, as referenced herein, may be comprised of one or more objects. Global positioning system devices coupled to the person captures the location and the precise time that data is captured. A set of environmental sensor devices captures environmental variables, such as, but not limited to, temperature, wind speed, barometric pressure, and humidity. In addition, the set of environmental sensor devices may detect environmental hazards, such as, but not limited to, detecting the electric field, radiation, and carbon monoxide. Other data capturing devices that may associated with the person may include, but are not limited to, medical devices, cellular telephones, and radio-frequency identification devices.

    Here is my question: Is IBM actually patenting a hardware device that can accomplish all the above or is IBM indicating that we are carrying around multiple video cameras, audio recorders and sensors to record our digital life? I am sure that is not the case, even if the patent goes to great length explaining the nature of the recording devices: “The data capturing devices for capturing data may be hidden in common apparel such as glasses, a hat, clothing or jewelry. In another illustrative embodiment, some or all of the capturing devices may be medically implanted into the person’s body.” Got it?

    Let me just say that the word “may” sounds rather silly and indicates that the inventors had no idea how these recording could work and how they may look like. What if a true genius comes up with a way to record “life” data in this way? Should IBM then have the right to collect license fees based on a patent with a very broad idea? If that is the case, then someone should file a time travel patent with drawings of characters that are flying through a time tunnel, if IBM has not patented that already.

    Of course, patents like these will bring back the discussion of an antiquated and hopelessly overloaded patent system beyond repair. Patents like these may not hold up in court because of prior art claims. They may be much more entertaining than represent an effective legal document. The more serious side of such patents, however, is that they do not promote true innovation and, in fact, serve the only purpose to strangle innovation at smaller companies that may not have the resources to patent every napkin sketch that is drawn during lunch hour.

    This particular patent reminds me of IBM’s patent patent, which we wrote about in December of last year. That patent (it’s still an application at this time) describes a patent management software, which covers everything from patent filing gaps and opportunities, patent management and competitive research as well as a module how to sue another party that may infringe on a particular patent. I am wondering if that patent could automatically file a lawsuit against an inventor who, in fact, invents a digital life recorder?
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  2. #2
    Administrator admin's Avatar
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    Re: IBM Patents Your Digital Life

    If you found this interesting I highly recommend http://groklaw.com

    I've been using that to follow the Oracle vs Google lawsuit pertaining to Android.
    "Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination are omnipotent. The slogan press on has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race. No person was ever honored for what he received. Honor has been the reward for what he gave." -- John Calvin Coolidge

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    XCR Guru MickeyC's Avatar
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    Re: IBM Patents Your Digital Life

    This isn't really surprising. IBM files around 5000 patent requests annually. I suppose they are trying to do this before Google does.
    Semper in excremento sum, solum profunditas mutat. 'Always in the shit, only the depth varies'

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    Super Moderator Underground's Avatar
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    Re: IBM Patents Your Digital Life

    I'm not surprised. I've been saying for years that very thing is coming, and not that far off now.



    That guy, he said I should be oblong and have my knees removed. But I don't trust him, he plays the banjo.

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