There’s no question that the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent stay-at-home orders changed the lives of almost everyone. For many, 2020 was a challenging year separated from loved ones and sometimes from their former source of income. People who used to drive downtown every day to go into the office found themselves working from home. Others lost their jobs as the economy took a hit from the pandemic, or quit their jobs as time away gave them a little more clarity.
For some, however, the isolating year gave them time to pursue their own ideas, create inventions, or start their own businesses. This is shown in the massive trademark surge that’s happened in the past year, but there have also been several exciting new patents that have gone through since 2020. Here are some of our favorites:
The Rise of Robots and “Robotic Grasping”
It’s commonplace in our world today to have smart home devices like Google Home, Amazon Echo Dot, and others that can keep our schedule for us, set reminders or add to shopping lists, even control the lights in our home. But we’re still a long way off from the sort of science fiction that was imagined decades ago, robots that are almost humanoid and can assist in a more physical way.
However, Google’s recent patent is starting to make advances on that. This patent applies to a system that provides a vision sensor to robots, allowing them to see their environment, as well as develop a sense of spatial awareness that allows robots to reach for and grasp objects. While the invention is still in progress, the neural network created by this system is such that in time, robots may be able to grasp something as small and fine as a #2 pencil.
It wasn’t only the COVID-19 vaccine that became important in 2020, although the technologies used in the COVID-19 vaccine of 2020 also paved the way for this malaria vaccine. On February 4, 2021, a patent for a malaria vaccine invented by Richard Bucala and Andrew Geall was published, using similar RNA properties to those of the COVID-19 vaccines.
In the past, creating a vaccine for malaria was a struggle because the parasite that characterizes malaria, plasmodium, inhibits T-cells which typically protect the body from pathogens and diseases. The RNA based vaccine has been shown to protect T-cells while immunizing against malaria. It has not been tested on humans to date, but is a major advance that bodes well for fighting against a variety of diseases using RNA technology.
It was impossible for most of us to spend all of our time indoors over the course of the pandemic. Many still have to go to the grocery store, the doctor, the post office, etc. In these cases, social distancing was an important way to protect our health and the health of others. The general rule was 6 feet of distance between each person, but the problem is that it’s hard to tell exactly what 6 feet of distance might be without a ruler to measure it.
That is until this particular patent was filed in June of last year. This invention, created by Rajeev Khera from Orlando, Florida, visualizes the distance between two people and sets off a red light when someone comes closer than social distancing guidelines would dictate. While most of the country is becoming vaccinated and moving away from the need for social distancing, this invention is helpful for those who are immunocompromised, have not yet been vaccinated, or may need to travel soon.
Whether you created something in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic or have an idea for an invention you’d like to patent going forward, Garcia-Zamor can help you navigate the patent application process and protect your intellectual property. Contact us today to learn more about our services or to set up a consultation.