Invention: The McDownload

 作者:东轸耽     |      日期:2019-03-02 08:16:03
By Barry Fox For over 30 years, Barry Fox has trawled the world’s weird and wonderful patent applications each week, digging out the most exciting, intriguing and even terrifying new ideas. His column, Invention, is available exclusively online. Scroll down for a round-up of previous Invention articles. Movie, music or game with your Big Mac, sir? That’s what The Walt Disney Company in Hollywood has in mind. Patents filed by Disney reveal plans to drip-feed entertainment into a portable player while the owner eats in a restaurant. You only get the full programme by coming back to the restaurant a number of times to collect all the instalments. McDonalds could use the system instead of giving out toys with Happy Meals, suggests Disney’s patent. Portable players and modern cellphones store entertainment files in memory cards. They often have built-in Bluetooth or WiFi, too, for wireless downloading. Big files, such as a movie, take a long time to capture, so Disney will break the file into several segments that can be downloaded separately and spliced together by the player. When the owner buys a meal they get an electronic code that authorises a partial download. If the file is in five parts there is a strong incentive to come back for four more meals. In the future, a dedicated player sold or even given away by the restaurant could help the scheme to run more smoothly – and create a new market opportunity for electronics companies. Read the drip-feed entertainment patent here. Imagine this scenario: criminals hide a tiny wireless camera near an ATM cash machine and take pictures as users enter their PIN code. A digital recorder several hundred metres away stores the pictures transmitted by the camera, so the crook need never return to the scene of the crime. If the criminals can now get the card details – either by skimming the card or simply grabbing it – they have all they need to steal the user’s money. The same trick can be used on “chip-and-PIN” credit card terminals, warns UK company Celt in a patent that claims a new way to stop such scams. The bank – or shop – installs a radio receiver near any PIN terminal. The receiver continually tunes backwards and forwards over all the frequency bands used by wireless equipment, from about 50 megahertz up to 6 gigahertz and down again. When any continuous transmission is detected, the receiver checks the signal strength to see if it is coming from a local transmitter. The receiver also analyses the signal waveform, looking for the regular synchronisation pulses that video cameras generate to keep pictures steady on screen. If a signal is local and coming from a camera, the receiver displays a warning on the terminal screen telling the user to be careful and alerts security staff. If the risk is high, the system can shut down the terminal until it has been checked. Read the PIN protection patent here. Video projectors are designed to work by illuminating flat screens or walls, but home and office walls seldom have large, flat areas free. A new system claims to solve the problem by projecting distortion-free images onto areas including corners, ceilings, doors and other irregularities. Irregularities mean that parts of the screen area are at different angles to the projector, distorting the image. But the University of North Carolina, funded by the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), has found a solution using a projector that buries a geometric pattern in the projected picture – criss-cross lines, for example. The embedded pattern can be created by making small changes to only one colour, so it is recognisable to the camera but largely invisible to the human eye. Any shape distortion of the pattern is detected by a camera built into the projector. Software in the projector then pre-distorts the picture until the on-screen pattern is restored to its regular geometry. A one-off set-up procedure takes around 15 seconds. The settings can then be fine-tuned on the fly, for instance to compensate for distortion caused when a lecturer stands in front of the screen. The DARPA system can also be used in reverse, for flight simulation training and games. If the original material has been formatted for display on a conical screen that matches the shape of an aircraft cockpit, for example, the projector distorts the conical image so that it looks OK when beamed onto a flat screen. Read the distortion-busting patent here. Read previous Invention columns: Hot-air plane, Landmine arrows, Soldiers obeying odours, Coffee beer, wall-beating bugging, Eyeball electronics, phone jolts, Personal crash alarm, Talking tooth, Shark shocker, Midnight call-foiler, Burning bullets, A music lover’s dream, Magic wand for gamers, The phantom car, Phone-bomb hijacking, Shocking airport scans,