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Issue no. 23, 2010
Published: Jul 09, 2010

Single EU patent on the way
Researchers use super-high pressures to create super battery
Reversible watermarking for digital images
IBM and EU establish cloud-computing consortium
Mouseless, the 'invisible' computer mouse

Single EU patent on the way
The European Commission has presented a proposal on translation arrangements for a future EU patent, the final step needed for the realisation of a single EU patent which could encourage greater research, development and innovation in the technology industry.

The Commission argued that the current system is far too complex and costly, and that individual inventors are forced to request validation at a national level of any patents granted by the intergovernmental European Patent Office (EPO).

Under the new proposals, which build on the existing language policy of the EPO, EU patents will be examined and granted in one of the official languages of the EPO, i.e. English, French or German. The granted patent will be published in this language which will be the legally binding text. The publication will include translations of the claims into the other two EPO official languages.

Processing costs for an EU Patent covering 27 member states would be less than EUR 6,200, of which only 10% would be due to translations.
VNUnet UK    Jul 03, 2010 back to top

Researchers use super-high pressures to create super battery
Using super-high pressures similar to those found deep in the Earth or on a giant planet, Washington State University researchers have created a compact, never-before-seen material capable of storing vast amounts of energy. Possible future applications include creating a new class of energetic materials or fuels, an energy storage device, super-oxidising materials for destroying chemical and biological agents, and high-temperature superconductors.

The research is basic science, but the researchers say it shows it is possible to store mechanical energy into the chemical energy of a material with such strong chemical bonds. The team created the material in a diamond anvil cell, a small device capable of producing extremely high pressures in a small space. The cell contained xenon difluoride (XeF2), a white crystal used to etch silicon conductors, squeezed between two small diamond anvils.

At normal atmospheric pressure, the material's molecules stay relatively far apart from each other. But as researchers increased the pressure inside the chamber, the material became a two-dimensional graphite-like semiconductor. The researchers eventually increased the pressure to more than a million atmospheres, comparable to what would be found halfway to the centre of the earth. All this squeezing forced the molecules to make tightly bound three-dimensional metallic 'network structures'. In the process, the huge amount of mechanical energy of compression was stored as chemical energy in the molecules' bonds.
PhysOrg / Washington State University    Jul 04, 2010 back to top

Reversible watermarking for digital images
Every picture tells a story, but how do you know that a digital photo has not been manipulated to change the tale being told? A new approach to adding an encrypted watermark to digital images allows the an image to be validated against a pass key, according to Indian researchers.

Visible watermarks are routinely added to digital images as a form of copy protection, but their presence essentially destroys the picture, obliterating information within altered pixels in a way that cannot be reversed. Now, researchers at Annamalai University in Tamil Nadu, India, have developed a new, reversible watermarking scheme. The system could be used initially for the authentication of military images.

The new watermarking system is based on calculating the parameters of every pixel in the image but nevertheless at low computer power. This information is converted into a code, a Hash Message Authentication Code (HMAC), of the image where distinct pixel values are selected for embedding watermark bits and the preferred pixel values are stored as a key. The key thus generated is used for both the watermark extraction and restoration of the original image. The extracted HMAC and the HMAC of the restored image can be compared to verify that the received image is authentic and has not been altered.
PhysOrg / International Journal of Signal and Imaging Systems Engineering    Jul 06, 2010 back to top

IBM and EU establish cloud-computing consortium
IBM is establishing a consortium with the EU and universities to research new cloud-computing models. The consortium will undertake research that could lead to the development of new computer science models that bring together managed internet-based services from diverse hardware and software environments in a flexible cloud environment.

The new design and deployment models could help cut costs compared with conventional models, which are complex and require significant time and cost to maintain, IBM said. The current systems are not flexible and need to be manually customized for services to communicate and work together. The researchers hope to establish a framework to cut down the design and deployment time for such services by hosting them in a central cloud environment.

The researchers will undertake a project called Artifact-Centric Service Interoperation (ACSI), which is based on a concept of interoperation hubs, which was introduced by IBM Research last year. These hubs provide cloud-based environments in which flexible internet-based software and services can easily be created and deployed. Customers would pay for service integration and pay for the hosted services depending on data stored and transactions completed. Consortium partners will develop services and applications for the project, IBM said.

The universities involved in the project include Sapienza Universita di Roma, Italy; Free University of Bozen-Bolzano, Italy; Imperial College, United Kingdom; Technische Universiteit Eindhoven, Netherlands; University of Tartu in Estonia and Collibra NV in Belgium.
Yahoo / PCWorld    Jul 07, 2010 back to top

Mouseless, the 'invisible' computer mouse
Scientists at MIT in Cambridge Massachusetts have developed an 'invisible mouse' using an infrared (IR) laser beam and associated camera that could be incorporated into the computer.

A plane of infrared laser is created just above the surface on which the computer is resting. The user acts as though a physical mouse were present and the laser beam is intersected by the hand, and parts of the hand are shown up as bright spots of light that change position as the hand moves. The built-in camera then interprets the changes in position of the hand and fingers and translates them as moves of the mouse and clicks on the two buttons, and the cursor on the screen moves as if the user was operating a physical mouse.

There are no plans for commercialising the invisible mouse, but the prototype 'Mouseless' was built for around USD 20. The researchers are now working on improvements to the recognition and tracking algorithms with the aim of building up an expanded command library. This may in the future lead to more complex gesture recognition than is possible at present, and could ultimately give the Mouseless a number of advantages over a physical mouse.
PhysOrg.com    Jul 08, 2010 back to top
 
         
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