Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Patenting computer-implemented inventions (software patents)

The law does not allow patents to be granted for some types of innovation. Some computer-implemented inventions are patentable whilst others are not. This is because software straddles the technological and business worlds. It uses technology, that is, computers, but often for non-technical purposes. Whether a computer-implemented invention is patentable depends on the contribution the invention makes. For example, if it provides improved control of a car braking system, it is likely to be patentable, but if it merely provides an improved accounting system, it is probably not patentable.

There is extensive case law about computer-implemented inventions. The Intellectual Property Office is bound by these cases in its own decision making. The Intellectual Property Office practice is based on a Court of Appeal judgment (Aerotel/Macrossan) in 2006 which lays down the basic test to be applied.

The law on what is patentable is the same across Europe, so if something is unpatentable under UK law, it will generally also be unpatentable elsewhere in Europe, although individual countries may has slightly varying interpretations of the law. The same does not apply to countries outside Europe. In the US and Japan, the laws allow a wider range of computer-implemented inventions to be patented.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Computer Animation of Mitosis

This invention is a computer animation model depicting the process of cell reproduction, better known as mitosis. This invention aims to make the process of learning about mitosis and its phases more memorable and retainable for students. Learning from a textbook is often a tedious task, and I hope to improve learning motivation. The invention is an animation without voice over components. This animation is run at a standard of 12 frames per second (fps). This standard is used commonly when media is to be posted to the Internet, although other fps rates are used. For example, most animated feature films run at 24 fps, allowing the film and animation to run smoothly and be choppy. 12 fps can a be just as smooth as 24 fps, but the difference is that the 12 fps will run twice as fast as 24 fps. To create the animation I used the programs Paint Shop Pro v6.02 and Animation Shop 2 to create the drawing and into compile them to a working and full running animation.

Monday, May 04, 2009

A Computer That Can 'Read' Your Mind

For centuries, the concept of mind readers was strictly the domain of folklore and science fiction. But according to new research published today in the journal Science, scientists are closer to knowing how specific thoughts activate our brains. The findings demonstrate the power of computational modeling to improve our understanding of how the brain processes information and thoughts.

The research was conducted by a computer scientist, Tom Mitchell, and a cognitive neuroscientist, Marcel Just, both of Carnegie Mellon University. Their previous research, supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the W.M. Keck Foundation, had shown that functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) can detect and locate brain activity when a person thinks about a specific word. Using this data, the researchers developed a computational model that enabled a computer to correctly determine what word a research subject was thinking about by analyzing brain scan data.

In their most recent work, Just and Mitchell used fMRI data to develop a more sophisticated computational model that can predict the brain activation patterns associated with concrete nouns, or things that we experience through our senses, even if the computer did not already have the fMRI data for that specific noun.