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Patent highlights

07 Mar 2003

The pick of this week's patent applications including a 3D video conferencing system.

•  Title: 3D video conferencing system
Applicant: Koninklijke Philips Electronics, the Netherlands
International application number: WO 03/017680
The world of video conferencing could be taking a step into the third dimension thanks to the invention outlined in application WO 03/017680. The system comprises a camera for capturing video signals and a depth-map calculator that creates a profile of the user. Both the video signals and the depth map are transmitted as 3D video data. At the receiving end, a stereoscopic device displays the image of the user based on the depth map. The authors say the map is also used to estimate the position of the user to control the calculation of the stereo images.

•  Title: Cooling of high power laser systems
Applicant: Textron Systems, US
International application number: WO 03/017438
Optimizing the shape of gain media could lead to improved cooling of high-power laser oscillators or amplifiers and avoid detrimental effects caused by overheating, according to patent WO 03/017438. Crucially, the width of the gain media must be greater than its thickness. These blocks of gain media should then be sandwiched between pairs of optically transparent materials with high thermal conductivity. The patent says creates a "shortened thermal path from the face surface of the gain media axially via the optically transparent heat conductor to an external heat system."

•  Title: Method and apparatus for thermal ablation of biological tissue
Applicant: Reliant Technologies, US
International application number: WO 03/017670
Patent application WO 03/017670 describes a laser-scanning system for ablating or coagulating biological tissue. The scanner uses reflective optics that allows the surgeon to perform precise single-layer vaporization without the laser causing thermal damage to the underlying tissue. The system also monitors the tissue's temperature and uses cryogenics to eliminate or reduce the need for anaesthetics during the procedure.

•  Title: Imitation candle
Applicant: Jenesis International, US
International application number: WO 03/016783
Looking for a candle that will never burn out? Worried about fire safety or are you always struggling to find the matches? Then the invention in application WO 03/016783 is for you. It describes an imitation candle made from a translucent material, which contains an amber LED that produces light similar in color to that of candle light. Varying the current to the LED simulates flickering, says the patent.

Jacqueline Hewett is news reporter on Optics.org and Opto & Laser Europe magazine.

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