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Microsoft Has a Virtually Virtual Skywriting Patent

By - Source: USPTO | B 14 comments

Microsoft was just awarded a "virtual skywriting" patent that is sure to cause some controversy, given the company's outspoken stance of its research and to protect its work via patents and a rigid licensing policy.

The company was granted the patent on July 24 and received the rights to combine a real world picture with virtual skywritings that are associated with a mobile device's location. The idea is to make this a location-based service as a "virtual skywriting service" and will provide previously selected skywritings for the device's location.

There would be several interesting concepts for such an idea, for example to immediately combine skywritings with any location, but this is not explicitly part of the patent submitted in June 2011. The patent simply refers to two separate processes, in which skywritings are "authored" by users of mobile devices and then are submitted to a virtual skywriting service. Only when submitted and listed, the skywritings then become available for integration in a picture.

Of course, the first problem with such patents are that there is no real product that Microsoft is offering. The only virtual skywriter is the one published by OpenProcessing made available via GPL. It is rather unlikely that Microsoft had no idea about this basic approach and, even if it added a mobile and service component to it, it is an example of the strange patent world we live in.

Another controversy has been brought up by GeekWire, which got its hands on the patent about a month before it was granted, and noted that the patent itself includes a copyright violation. The patent includes an example virtual skywriting image that was taken from a real world skywriting patent, without attributing the image in any appropriate way. Of course, humans make mistakes, but this patent overall has a certain spot in the contest of the most useless patents of the year.


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  • 3 Hide
    Pinhedd , July 31, 2012 7:59 AM
    what the hell have the hipsters come up with now?
  • 4 Hide
    sylvez , July 31, 2012 8:05 AM
    patent war and copyright aside, that is actually quite cool. useless though.
  • 7 Hide
    frombehind , July 31, 2012 9:10 AM
    Useless in of itself, but in an era where everyone wears something akin to Google's "Glass" virtual reality overlay glasses.... something like this could be used to shut out all other competition for something like advertising in a particular field.
  • -2 Hide
    unwanted , July 31, 2012 11:09 AM
    Google Glass is "Augmented Reality" not "Virtual Reality",

    They are two completely different things as Virtual Reality does not need nor use anything from the real world while Augmented Reality requires the real world to work, hence the name Augmented (modified) Reality since it is adding to what your are actually seeing in real life.
  • 2 Hide
    alidan , July 31, 2012 11:35 AM
    unwantedGoogle Glass is "Augmented Reality" not "Virtual Reality",They are two completely different things as Virtual Reality does not need nor use anything from the real world while Augmented Reality requires the real world to work, hence the name Augmented (modified) Reality since it is adding to what your are actually seeing in real life.


    the way that he is useing the term is wrong but what he is saying is correct.
  • 1 Hide
    wardler , July 31, 2012 1:37 PM
    unwantedGoogle Glass is "Augmented Reality" not "Virtual Reality",They are two completely different things as Virtual Reality does not need nor use anything from the real world while Augmented Reality requires the real world to work, hence the name Augmented (modified) Reality since it is adding to what your are actually seeing in real life.


    Virtual Reality Overlay is what he said. As in the overlay of what you are seeing in real life is completely virtual reality. Another way of saying that would be augmented reality. Don't act like a know it all.
  • -7 Hide
    dark_lord69 , July 31, 2012 1:52 PM
    Dumb...
    This patient is pointless if you ask me.
  • 1 Hide
    eddieroolz , July 31, 2012 2:17 PM
    Interesting. I don't agree with the negative tone of the article however.
  • 1 Hide
    DRosencraft , July 31, 2012 3:10 PM
    Again, this seems like a legitimate patent that is getting negative feedback because of everyone's weariness of the patent wars. This appears, however, to be more a plan for working with some future tech. the utility for now is a little limited and I'm not sure something MSFT would put real effort in monetizing. It seems a little too limited for their usual tastes.
  • -1 Hide
    juanc , July 31, 2012 4:08 PM
    Put it simple

    1) Completely stupid and useless.
    2) A patent for drawing over a picture
    3) If you use it, you'll be disclosing your location. For sure the TOS will somehow force you to disclose it.
  • 0 Hide
    JohnnyLucky , July 31, 2012 4:11 PM
    Took me a while to figure out the patent was for an edited image on a mobile device.
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , July 31, 2012 5:02 PM
    Regardless of dumb or useless, everyone should be frightened and outraged that such an OBVIOUS thing can be patented.
  • 0 Hide
    kartu , July 31, 2012 8:57 PM
    Fix bloody patent office...
  • 0 Hide
    _Cosmin_ , July 31, 2012 10:07 PM
    Ever heard of LYAR on android phones? Already does something like that. Those morons who grant patterns should do some research first !!!