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Patent highlights

24 Mar 2004

The pick of this week’s patent applications including a way to retrofit traffic lights with LED-based lamps.

•  Title: Compact light emitting diode retrofit lamp and method for traffic signal lights
Applicant: Leotek Electronics Corporation, US
International application number: WO 2004/023424
A US firm is trying to patent a high-power LED-based lamp which can replace the incandescent lamps traditionally used in traffic lights. As well as describing the lamp, patent application WO 2004/023424 also reveals a method for retrofitting conventional traffic signals. The method includes installing a Fresnel lens that collimates the light before it strikes the outer lens of the traffic signal lamp.

•  Title: Intrinsic Fabry-Perot optical fiber sensors and their multiplexing
Applicant: Virginia Tech Intellectual Properties, Inc, US
International application number: WO 2004/023171
Patent application WO 2004/023171 describes a Fabry-Perot optical sensor, which contains a thin-film sandwiched between the ends of two optical fibers. The patent describes several setups. In one setup, the refractive index of a small portion of a fiber is changed by exposing it to a laser. “Interference between reflections at the ends of the small portion give rise to the sensor output,” say the authors. “Multiple sensors along a single fiber are multiplexed using an optical time domain reflectometry method.”

•  Title: Individual identification device
Applicant: Fujitsu Limited, Japan
International application number: WO 2004/021884
The pattern of blood vessels in a person’s hand can be used to reveal their identity, according to the authors of patent application WO 2004/021884. The non-contact method involves taking a picture of the hand while it is being illuminated with near infrared light. The image is then compared and matched to stored data, revealing the user’s identity.

•  Title: Car mat comprising fibre optic lighting
Applicant: Jesus Fernandez Ortiz, Spain
International application number: WO 2004/022385
Dull car interiors could soon be a thing of the past, thanks to an idea being patented by a Spanish inventor. Jesus Fernandez Ortiz’s idea involves embedding optical fibres into car mats in any desired design, such as a flag or drawing. He says that the mat should contain three layers, specifically an upper layer made from a textile that prevents the feet slipping and an intermediate layer made from EVA plastic. The optical fibers are embedded in the intermediate layer.

Jacqueline Hewett is technology editor on Optics.org and Opto & Laser Europe magazine.

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