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Patent highlights

18 Jun 2003

The pick of this week's patent applications including ideas to perforate toilet paper and deter pests from your garden.

•  Title: Optical microphone
Applicant: Epivalley Co., Ltd, Korea
International application number: WO 03/049494
Precise measurements of acoustics are possible using an optical microphone, say the authors of patent WO 03/049494. The system contains a semiconductor laser, which is fired towards a diaphragm. As the diaphragm vibrates in response to external acoustic waves, detectors pick up differences in the path length of the reflected laser beam and transform it into a useful signal. “The sensitivity is improved by using a laser because it can detect minute variations in the diaphragm,” say the authors.

•  Title: System and method for serving or perforating web
Applicant: Kimberly-Clark Worldwide, Inc, US
International application number: WO 03/047808
Lasers could soon be putting perforations between sheets of toilet paper or kitchen roll. The invention in this patent uses a laser array to perforate or sever a web-like material such as paper tissue at predetermined points. The authors say the laser “provides the ability to precisely measure and vary the length of the perforations along the web in a more efficient manner for a precise cut.”

•  Title: Pest deterrent system
Applicant: Tarseam Bhullar, Canada
International application number: WO 03/047339
The last thing gardeners want is birds or other pests eating their produce. Now, thanks to a Canadian inventor, scavenging birds could be thing of the past. The pest deterrent system houses a laser that sweeps across a field in vertical and horizontal patterns. “The laser beam wavelength is seen by birds or other animals and merely frightens them away rather than blinding them,” says the inventor. A solar panel coupled to a rechargeable battery powers the system.

•  Title: Method and device for measuring animal meat tenderness or fish freshness
Applicant: ADIV Association, France
International application number: WO 03/048761
Patent WO 03/048761 describes a non-invasive way to test how tender meat is and how fresh fish is using fluorescence spectroscopy. The system uses 250 to 290-nm-light to excite fluorophores such as protein tryptophans, amino acids and nucleic acids in a specific region of meat or fish. A spectrometer captures the data, which is processed to determine the tenderness or freshness of the food being studied.

•  Title: Light-emitting toothbrush and method of whitening teeth
Applicant: Kathleen Clemans, US
International application number: WO 03/047454
The inventors of the light-emitting toothbrush described in patent WO 03/047454 say their device both lights up teeth while brushing and helps to keep them white. The toothbrush has a light source in the handle and a light guide to deliver the illumination to the head of the brush. The light source emits between 350 and 700 nm.

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

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