FT SPECIAL REPORT DEFENCE INDUSTRY TUESDAY SEPTEMBER 13 2005
Kitting out themodern-day soldier
The soldierof tomorrow
Shoulder launched remote controlledreconnaissance craftA patent granted in 2000 details a shoulder-launchedreconnaissance system for providing surveillance ofenemy locations. The craft is remotely controlled with arange up to 10 kilometres and a camera sends back videosignals. The elongated fuselage can also carry sensors forchemical and biological agents
In-helmet video images of battlefieldA video camera mounted on a weapon sends a picture to the video display in a soldiers helmet. The system,described in a 1990 US patent from Varo Inc, enhancesthe soldiers view of the battlefield and provides range,elevation and size information. Images can also be transmitted to video screens in other soldiers helmets
High comfort night vision helmetAn image intensifier takes in photons of lightfrom a visible scene and amplifies them to produce a much brighter image, so that targets are visible by moon-or even starlight. A 1994Marconi UK patent enables the night vision sys-tem to be helmet-mounted to leave the hands free
Compact laser sight/target illuminatorA laser light emitted from a rifle on to the target isan essential aid to the soldier who cant afford tomiss with the first shot. A 1991 patent fromDamocles Engineering focuses on a combinedtelescope and laser sight that enables the soldierto view both the target and the laser spot at thesame time
Bulletproof vest/helmetCited more than 70 times by other patents, a 1983US patent from Allied Corp paved the way foradvances in bulletproof material. The combinedpolythene and polypropylene materials offer highresistance to bullets and other projectiles byabsorbing their energy and is adaptable to bothvests and helmets
Wearable computer system for infantryA computer system can be vital in battlefield systems toenable the soldier to capture target images, and record andexchange information. A 2005 US patent from Exponentcould result in soldiers being able to operate a PC in difficultsituations. The screen is in the helmet, cursor controls are on the weapon and computer components are distributedevenly in the vest
Computerised weapon for mission intelligenceSoldiers weapons may include functions such asGPS position detection, target detection, laserrange finding, Friend-or-Foe identification orcommunication with other soldiers. A 2002 USpatent from Xybernaut describes a computerwithin the stock of a weapon that can containup-to-date mission intelligence, such as enemypositions, troop movements, weather forecasts,rendezvous points and times
Adjustable heated/cooled clothingAn August 2004 US patent application paves the way for personal thermo-electric heatingand cooling technology to be integrated into
soldiers clothing, allowing them to regulatetheir own temperature
Bionic soldiersA powered exoskeletal system could be worn bysoldiers to increase power to the legs, enablingheavier loads to be carried. A patent from 1993from the Israeli Ministry of Defence describesan exoskeletal system with a power supply froma backpack
Invisibility suitsA patent from Germany applied for in 2000offers the hope of invisibility on the battlefield.A suit includes a dense netting of miniaturecameras and monitors. The background, infront of which a person stands, is transferred tothe front of the body, and vice versa, to producea camouflage effect
Robotic battlefield mulesA remote-controlled robotic mule for infantrysoldiers is described in a granted 2004 patent forthe German company Diehl Munitionsyteme.It has wheels , tracks or swinging legs, videocameras and weapon systems. It can be used tocarry supplies, reconnaissance equipment andcan even fire on an enemy
Source: Thomson Scientificwww.scientific.thomson.com
FT SPECIAL REPORT INNOVATION WEDNESDAY JUNE 8 2005
What made the mobilephone the phenomenonit is today?
As well as protecting innovation patentscan also tell the history and future of aproduct, and show how ideas can build onother ideas to create further innovation.Here, we examine the mobile phone
Battery TechnologyInvention of the lithium-ion batterypaved the way for palm-sized phonesalmost overnight. It was invented byAEA Technology, then the UKsAtomic Energy Authority and detailedin a UK patent filed on December 141988.
Network protocolsThe patent filed on june 25 1990 byQualcomm, entitled System andMethod for Generating SignalWaveforms in a CDMA CellularTelephone System, has become one ofthe worlds most lucrative and to datehas been cited 831 times by patents filedsince. It details the methods and tech-nologies required for the second genera-tion digital phones now used worldwide.
Mobile phone/personal digital assistantThe trend for phones to do more thansimply make calls started more than adecade ago. Nokia, for example, filed apatent with the Finnish patent office onNovember 24 1995, covering two inter-faces that fold together, one for telephoneservices, the other for alphanumeric orgraphical data.
Mobile telephonyOne of the first patents for an organised radio telephone system having a plurality of base station andportable units was filed by Motorolaon October 17 1973. It introduced one of the first designs for cellularsystems, where a cluster of base stations pass calls between each other.
Clamshell/flip phone casesOne of the first patents to describe this type was filed by Motorola onNovember 20 1989 for a communications device with a movable element control interface.
The components ofa typical mobile phone
Main body of phone (containscircuit board, microprocessorsand memory)
Source: Thomson Scientific www.scientific.thomson.com
Predictive textA patent protecting user interface for cellular telephone by Pacific Communication Sciencesof San Diego in July 1995, is arguably one of the early inventions that led the way for predictive alphanumeric text entry systems. The patent describes using a dictionary databaseto match text entered by the user and therefore predict the full word.
Aircraft based mobile phone coverageMobile phones currently measure the amount of network signal they recieve to determinehow powerfully they need to transmit. When an aircraft reaches cruising altitude, the phoneuses its most powerful setting. Also networks struggle to manage signals from a few hundredphones travelling at 600mph as they move from cell to cell. If a smaller pico-cell could beinstalled on the plane, phones would transmit at a fraction of the power, causing much less(or no) interference, and the ground based network remains unaffected from the fast-movingphones high above. Colorado-based company Aircell filed a US patent in March 1992.
Emergency global positioning system phone locaterNetwork operators can currently locate a phone by determining which cell it is transmittingfrom but each cell can be between 100m to six miles in diameter. MCI Communicationsfiled a patent in December 1995 for a system that accurately locates a callers position from aGPS system.
The disposable mobile phoneInternational travellers could buy a cheap, throw-away phone from vending machines whenarriving in countries with a non-compatible phone. Ramdi Altschul, a private inventor fromNew Jersey, US, filed a US patent in February 1997. It could also be used as a back-up in thecar in case of emergencies, or to take places where a phone might be lost. It could use standard AA batteries opening it up to rural areas in the developing world.
Hydrogen fuelled portable battery chargerA portable device using electrochemical fuel cells that take hydrogen and oxygen and createelectricity could recharge a standard mobile phones battery using replaceable methanol cartridges as its fuel source. Manhattan Scientific, a New York-based fuel cell research company, has patented a Micro-fuel cell power device, filed in December 1998.
Airport check-in/boarding verificationA UK patent from British Airways in April 2000 foresees a customer purchasing a ticket andbeing sent a text message containing a machine readable bar code that can be scanned tocheck-in to confirm the ticket. The same system can be used for issuing boarding cards fromthe check-in desk.
Mobile televisionThe Korean company LG Electronics, has developed an external, attachable TV receiver formobile handsets. Disclosed in a South Korean patent, filed in May 2003, the invention isinserted into the top of the phone, like a digital camera memory card. This instantly allowsusers to access local television broadcasts on the move.
What might the mobile phone become?