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Patent highlights

18 May 2004

The pick of this week’s patent applications including a cornea shaping contact lens.

•  Title: Optical microphone
Applicant: Epivalley Co. Ltd, Korea
International application number: WO 2003/049494
Sound recording may be about to change if a Korean optical microphone design is successful. Epivalley is patenting a compact device that projects semiconductor laser light onto an audio diaphragm. The incident acoustic waves cause the diaphragm to vibrate, changing the path difference between a laser source and a detector. As a result, the audio signal is coded as a series of characteristic light levels.

•  Title: Apparatus for producing a simulated 3D image
Applicant: Realview Innovations Ltd
International application number: WO 2004/023187
Irish firm, Realview Innovations, is patenting a system for producing a simulated 3D image from a 2D image. The system is based around a flexible fresnel lens which can be placed in front of a computer monitor or television screen. In order to optimise the 3D image, the curvature of the lens can be adjusted via its mount.

•  Title: Orthokeratology and bi-focal contact lens
Applicant: Vipok Inc, US
International application number: WO 2004/015479
Rather than simply correcting your sight, wearers of contact lenses may benefit from a new design that claims to combat vision defects by reshaping the eye. In a recent patent application the inventor, Hsiao-Ching Tung, describes a contact lens that is designed to gradually reshape the patient’s cornea during continued wear. The idea is to redistribute cornea tissue to give a steepened central portion surrounded by a flat mid-peripheral ring. For example, a plateau zone in the lens pushes the cornea tissue inward to pile up, and flattens the mid-peripheral cornea. The design can correct for hyperopia (farsightedness) and presbyopia (inability with advancing age to focus on near objects).

•  Title: A laser-induced fluorescence method for precancerous lesion diagnosis and an endoscope precancerous lesion diagnosis apparatus thereof.
Applicant: Shanghai Shengbiao Science and Technology Co. Ltd.
International application number: WO 2004/039254
Chinese company, Shanghai Shengbiao Science and Technology, is patenting a diagnostic tool for detecting malignant tumours. The apparatus contains two light sources (one cold and one excited), a light guiding channel, an endoscope and a circuit system. A fiber optic bundle pipes light from both light sources to the tip of the endoscope at the region of diagnosis. A weak fluorescence CCD detector captures reflected white light signal and fluorescence from the region. The white light signal is used to generate a visible image of the sample while the fluorescence signal is processed to provide a diagnostic spectrum.

James Tyrrell is reporter on Optics.org and Opto & Laser Europe magazine.

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