I retired in April 2013 after 25 years as a librarian at the British Library specialising in inventions. This included running numerous workshops; writing books on inventions and a work blog; carrying out searches for clients; and one-to-one meetings with inventors. [more]


18 January 2015

Magic Leap and its augmented reality patents

Magic Leap is a Florida company, backed by Google, who have published some unusual patent applications about using googles to achieve a state of augmented reality, if not nirvana. They believe it is a wholly new approach.

I will admit that I had never heard of them when I accidentally came across a discussion of a brand-new patent application by them. It was from The Verge, and was titled See the beautiful, nightmarish patent illustrations for a Google-funded augmented reality device. They are indeed weird, and suggests that the invention is versatile in its use. It seems that you will always be in another reality -- a dystopia, perhaps, as the article comments. Commands can be found on your hand, or you can see data on your shopping cart. It seems it can do just about anything to entertain or instruct you. Here's one of the drawings.

And here's another.

The US patent application, US20150016777, was published on the 15 January 2015. Clicking on "Images" at the top of the link to Planar waveguide apparatus with diffraction element(s) and system employing same will take you to the full patent specification. It is 60 pages long, with the 14 claims to protection (which will be assessed by patent examiners) at the end. Interestingly, claims 15 to 27 are noted as "cancelled" and were not published.

That is from the official US Patent and Trademark Office website. I normally link to the Espacenet website, which links to patent documents from numerous countries, but at present the actual PDF is not available there.

On the same day was published the corresponding World or PCT patent application, WO2015006784 is available at the PCT's own site, PatentScope. It is an A2 document, which tells us that it was published without a search report listing relevant prior art that might mean it would not be allowed protection. An A1 would mean it is published with a search report. The A3 search report will at some stage be published on the website as an additional document.

These World or PCT search reports are more valuable than the US reports (which are anyway only published on the granted patents, not the applications), as they spell out which are cited as  X or Y documents (done before, or obvious improvements) against parts of the application.

WO2015006784 is a link to where the A3 will eventually be published on the Espacenet website.

This is a list of the (at the time of writing, six) US patent documents in the name of Magic Leap. All, at present, are only applications (you can tell as they are preceded with the year). Here's one illustration, from their System and method for augmented and virtual reality.

Rony Abovitz, the CEO, president and founder of the company, is named as an inventor on three of them. At present Espacenet lists 27 US patent records in Rony Abovitz' name. He is a busy man -- he has sold a company, MAKO Surgical, for $1.65 billion. He founded it in 2004. Business Inside UK has an interesting article on his life.

Google and other venture capitalists funded the company with $542 million in October 2014.

Apparently (I missed it) there was a lot of speculation about what Magic Leap were planning to do. An interesting article by Gizmodo is called How Magic Leap is secretly creating a new alternate reality, published in November 2014. Another, from YouRift, was published in December: Will Magic Leap kill the Oculus Rift ? This is a reference to a company in much the same field, Oculus VR. They were purchased by Facebook in March 2014 for $2 billion in cash and stock. Their are responsible for the World application Perception based predictive tracking for head mounted displays.

It remains to be seen if this invention will take off or if will turn out to be a damp squib, like Google Glass, which was recently taken off the market for more work. Augmented reality using goggles does seem to be the current fad.

Magic Leap has a company website. Their slogan is, It's time to bring magic back into the world, and they are currently looking for wizards to work for them.

1 comment:

  1. Any speculation what the deal is with Claims 15-27 listed as canceled ? Canceled by whom ? To be added at a later date as revision to same filing ? Broken out into a separate filing ? The existing claims only have relevance to Fig's 1-13 out of the more than 60 total discussed.... ???