February 10, 2014 11:03am PT by Eriq Gardner
5 Patents Aimed at the Future of Entertainment
When patents get discussed these days, it's usually in a negative light.
Just ask Mark Cuban, whose Magnolia Pictures was recently sued by a company called Red Pine Point for allegedly infringing a patent covering the delivery of feature length movies to mobile cellular devices. "Could there be a more ridiculous patent ever issued?" asked Cuban on his blog.
Patents have been around since at least the 15th century, are blessed by Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution and according to the government, more than 300,000 were granted last year. IBM is typically the leader when it comes to registering patents, but what drives critics of the patent system nuts are the patent-holding companies that have no purpose beyond extracting licensing tolls. Seemingly gone are the days where patents bespoke of the entrepreneurship of the inventor.
Are patents really that bad? You be the judge.
We asked intellectual property professional Kimberly Potvin to show us five fun patents in the entertainment space that were published in the past couple of years. Here's what she came up with:
Patent #8579685 -- "Amusement pod entertainment center"
"Possibly a man cave…just possibly," says Potvin.
According to the patent's description, "While bars and restaurants are and will likely remain popular entertainment destinations, customers and potential customers continually seek new experiences and entertainment options." This patent seeks to take advantage of a media-saturated society by offering a way that bars and restaurants can "retool" their pinball machines and dart boards into a shared videogame experience.
Patent #8411891 -- "Garment with integrated headphones"
"I wonder if this will allow you to store your mobile device in your shoe, cause, you know, we all want that," says Potvin.
No doubt wearable technologies is a hot space. Might a company like Beats extend itself into clothing? According to the patent's description, "Unfortunately, using loose and detachable earphones cause several problems, including that the wires get tangled with the user, the user's clothing, or the user's environment. This results in the earphone wires getting pulled out of the portable electronic device or the ear phones being pulled out of the ears of the user…Thus, what is needed is a garment that provides a complete, functional, and fashionable solution to incorporating concealed earphone wires into any article of clothing and that does not require the addition of a tube, or excess material passageway and wherein the wire is virtually undetectable by the wearer of the garment."
Patent #8487174 -- "Method of instructing an audience to create spontaneous music"
"It is like a John Cage piece gone horribly wrong," says Potvin.
Tired of going to sporting events and participating in "The Wave" or seeing the same-ol' "Charge!" routines? This patent wants to shake things up. According to the patent's description, "Applicant has determined that a superior method of audience participation would be one that is musical, does not require planning, rehearsal or special skills of the participants and may produce an unforeseen result by the participants working together. Applicant has determined that a method of instructing the audience using a display in combination with audience-operated noisemakers can achieve these goals."
Patent #20130316821 -- "Targeting system and method for video games"
"Important patent for when the robot invasion takes place," says Potvin.
According to the patent's description, "A common issue that most first person shooter players have when playing, is not being able to acquire the target as fast as the player would like in order to make a 'kill' and achieve the highest score possible." The solution? Vertical and horizontal lines running on the televisions screen that make virtual killing easier.
Patent #8565323 -- "Attention misdirection for streaming video"
"You can't help but be misdirected from whatever you might have been focusing on," says Potvin.
Some inventions try to solve problems. Not this one. Rather than attempting to smooth over video streaming glitches, the proposed patent aims at "misdirecting the attention of a user to mask errors in streaming video. In particular, the present disclosure relates to presenting a distraction in conjunction with streaming video to induce a saccade in a user."
Remember that the next time the stream of House of Cards cuts out.
Potvin can be followed on Twitter at Copyright101