Thursday, April 07, 2005

SONY'S "MATRIX" PATENT: There's been a lot of buzz regarding Sony's "Matrix" patent, on a device for transmitting sensory data directly into the human brain. It is envisioned that, through the patent, movies and computer games will have smell, taste and even have "feel" to them.

The patent seems interesting enough; claim 1 of the patent recites:

1. A non-invasive system for projecting sensory data in a part of a human brain, the system comprising:

a primary transducer array configured to emit acoustic energy as a coherent signal source toward the human brain;

a secondary transducer array positioned between the primary transducer array and the human brain; and

a sensory data processing system coupled to the secondary transducer array, wherein the sensory data processing system sends an acoustical pattern signal to the secondary transducer array, the secondary transducer array producing a diffraction pattern for the emitted energy from the primary transducer array, the diffraction pattern altering neural firing timing in the brain.

The patent descibes a non-invasive pulsed ultrasonic signal that alters the neural firing timing in the cortex, where changes in the neural firing timing induce various sensory experiences, depending on the location of the firing timing change in the cortex. The system induces recognizable sensory experiences by applying ultrasonic energy pulsed at low frequency in one or more selected patterns on one or more selected locations of the cortex. Under the system, moving images, tastes and sounds can be transmitted directly through the brain, potentially giving blind or deaf people the chance to see or hear.

There have also been a number of continuations/CIP's filed on the original application, one of the later ones being Application 2004/0267118, in which claim 1 recites:

1. A method for generating perceived sensory experiences comprising:

directing an acoustical signal toward a human neural cortex; and

scanning the acoustical signal across the human neural cortex.

Whoah. Talk about a difference in claim scope. Now I realize this is only an application, and there is a substantial likelihood that the claims will be narrowed during prosecution. But that sounds to me a lot like a method currently being performed by iPods across the neural cortex of millions of communters every day . . .

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