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Patent highlights

13 Sep 2002

The pick of this week's hottest patent applications in the world of photonics.

•  Do the thoughts of needles and blood samples make you cringe? If so, then Innotech of the US may have come up with the perfect solution. The company describes its laser skin-perforator in the international patent application WO 02/069782.

The device pinches the area of skin that has been selected for perforation, increasing the blood supply to that particular region. A laser beam is then fired through focusing optics, which guide the beam onto the skin's surface and perforate it. The entire operation is sterile and needle-free.

•  Australian company Future Fibre Technology is patenting a perimeter security and monitoring system to stop intruders in their tracks.

The system, described in patent application WO 02/071356, uses two sets of fiber-optic cable buried underneath the ground in a zig-zag pattern. Light is launched into and collected from both sets of cabling by fiber-optic couplers. This produces interference patterns that are compared by two detectors.

If an intruder attempts to breach the perimeter barrier and walks over the buried cables, the interference patterns change and indicate a disturbance. The location of the intrusion can also be determined by comparing the time delay in receiving each pattern.

•  Is your golf swing in need of improvement? Ever wished you had eyes on the back of your head to see where you club is at the top of your backswing? Canadian inventors Christopher Hudson and Gerald Gowan may be able to help.

Their idea, detailed in application WO 02/070083, uses a light source attached to the shaft of the golf club. The source emits a line of light that hits the ground telling the golfer, or an observer, the position of the face of the golf club at or near the top of the backswing. The duo say this provides an improved golf teaching aid.

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

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