I got an email from my brother, that a patent that he was one of the four researchers working on (and now, awarded) turned out to be the 10,000th patent by his company, Microsoft.
I had visions of streamers, party hats and the like, but his boss at the time, one of the other people on the team, ended up getting most of the attention. I guess that’s how the media covers things. There was some CNET coverage which only referred to my brother as a ‘colleague’ (Boo, Hiss!) and this press release from Microsoft itself which mentions him in a capsule area, but only because he was also the co-recipient (with the same boss again) of the 5,000th patent. (How crazy a coincidence is that?)
This patent (10,000) was for a User Interface idea for Microsoft’s ‘Surface’ computer, which I’ve actually written about in my other blog. According to the Microsoft press release, the patent:
…applies to surface computing technology and outlines how users can place real objects — anything from cell phones to their own fingers — on the computer’s tablelike display and the computer will automatically identify the objects and track their position, orientation and motion. This allows the objects to be associated with data or media, like a specific collection of music or photos.
The really big coincidence is that this past week, at the Interaction Design Association’s IXD09 Conference that I attended this past week in here in Vancouver, there was indeed a Surface Computer from Microsoft (along with the Project Manager for that product, Joe Fletcher), and we placed our badges on the computer, which recognized us by our 3D Barcode or QR Code on the back of the badge (which I’ve scanned here):
When the badge was ‘recognized’ by the Surface, we could connect to another user who placed their badge on the computer by dragging from one badge to the other with our fingers, prompting the computer to send an ‘I want to connect to you’ message on the IXD09 web site. Kind of silly, when you think of it, since you were usually right in front of the person you supposedly wanted to connect with, but it was a fun demo, all the same. The strange sensation of seeing my badge sprout extra graphics under it when placed on the glass coffee table computer was like a real world version of Who Framed Roger Rabbit, with cartoon or 2D elements seeming to exist seamlessly and interact with the real things around them. Now, knowing that it was my brother’s patent that was behind this piece of techno-magic makes it even cooler.
So, I hope he at least gets a T-Shirt or something ( Maybe it could say, “I Got Microsoft its 5,000 and 10,000th Patents and All I Got Was This T-Shirt”). Maybe his own Surface Computer? C’mon Microsoft, the guy(s) who hit the 5 and 10K mark for you in the Intellectual Property race deserve more than a press release!
Update: Happy to see that ZDNet did a better job recognizing his contribution!