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Patent highlights

29 Apr 2003

The pick of this week's patent applications including a laser range finder that helps blind people gauge distances.

•  Title: Light emitting device and method for manufacture thereof
Applicant: Nichia Corporation, Japan
International application number: WO 03/034508
Nichia of Japan is trying to patent a phosphor-coated light-emitting device. The phosphor coating absorbs light from the LED chip and converts it into a visible emission. The wavelength emitted depends on the composition of the coating layer. "The coating layer comprises and inorganic material comprising an oxide and a hydroxide of at least one element selected from the group Si, Al, Ga, Ti, Ge, P, B, Zr, Y, Sn, Pb and alkaline metals," says the patent.

•  Title: Laser device for guiding blind people
Applicant: Arben Vrapi, Albania
International application number: WO 03/032889
Lasers could soon be helping to guide blind people thanks to the invention described in application WO 03/032889. The device is essentially a laser-range finder. It comprises an array of lasers and a set of detectors that are placed at different distances away from the sources. When a detector senses a beam, it emits an audible sound. "Each detector corresponds to a certain distance and controls the frequency of the sound in order for the person to identify the distance by the device's output sound," says the inventor.

•  Title: 2D/3D display apparatus
Applicant: Koninklijke Philips Electronics, the Netherlands
International application number: WO 03/034748
Patent application WO 03/034748 details a method to switch a display between 2D and 3D viewing modes. The display works by moving an optical-index matching fluid between a biconvex and a flat layer. The authors say that the fluid contains two immiscible substances and that the switching is based on redistribution of the fluids due to electrostatic forces.

•  Title: Sunlight readbale display with reduced ambient specular reflection
Applicant: Northrop Grumman Corporation, US
International application number: WO 03/034134
A textured surface is the key ingredient to a display that is readable in sunlight, according to patent WO 03/034134. The inventors deposit a thin anti-reflective optical coating onto the textured "anti-glare" display surface. "This technique provides a diffusive layer and a bond between display layers that enhances the performance of the display," say the authors.

•  Title: LED marker for golf course and LED marking method for golf course using it
Applicant: Photona, Japan
International application number: WO 03/033084
Golfers will have no excuses for not playing in the rain or fog if their course is using the invention detailed in application WO 03/033084. The application describes a solar-powered LED marker that can be placed in a pin flag or yard marker. The device also contains a sensor that turns the LED on when the flag is in the hole.

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

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