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XBox (Games) Microsoft

Microsoft Trying To Patent a 'Magic Wand' 157

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the also-patenting-bag-of-holding dept.
theodp writes "Newly-disclosed USPTO documents show that Microsoft is seeking patent protection for a 'Magic Wand,' a device with various gizmos and sensors that can manipulate and interact with its environment, including video and holographic images, while using biometrics to connect with the user. 'Even the most pragmatic individual,' explains Microsoft, 'would have trouble arguing against the merits or utility of, say, a magic wand that actually worked to control or communicate with objects or components in an associated nearby environment.' No doubt. The inventors include CXO/CTO J Allard, and Sr. Researcher Andy Wilson."
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Microsoft Trying To Patent a 'Magic Wand'

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  • by jholder (22001) on Monday May 18, 2009 @12:12PM (#27998245) Homepage Journal
    Wonder if they get into trouble with Nintendo.
    • by Z00L00K (682162) on Monday May 18, 2009 @12:14PM (#27998293) Homepage

      And all other remote controls that already exists and has existed since "deity-knows-when".

      Even the director's wand at an orchestra is a form of remote. But not very advanced in itself.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      I think Disney should get involved in this. After all, they released a 9 minute demonstration of it in 1940.

    • Re:Clippy, again? (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Seriously, we have to stop this before someone gets harmed.

    • by Threemoons (70070)

      Or Hitachi (google Hitachi Magic Wand...)

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by hey! (33014)

      Well, it's more than a wii-mote. The question is how much more than the sum of the additions? I think that's a critical question.

      I'm wary of any kind of kitchen-sink approach to inventing. An invention should somehow be more than the sum of its parts, otherwise where's the originality? If you said, take a wii-mote and add this one specific element and now something qualitatively new becomes possible, then you'd have a good argument that you invented something. If you say, take a wii-mote and add everyt

    • Or Cornell?

      In 1998 I was given a demonstration of a virtual reality system at Cornell University, consisting of 3D glasses with head tracking support, two walls lit by projectors using polarized light, and what might be loosely described as a "magic wand" for interacting with the environment. I recall manipulating 3D windows by pointing with this wand.

  • I have prior art, I was born with a magic wand!
  • by Moryath (553296) on Monday May 18, 2009 @12:13PM (#27998271)

    This is the first search result for "magic wand":

    http://www.amazon.com/Vibratex-HV-250R-Hitachi-Magic-Massager/dp/B00005M1WE [amazon.com]

    I think MS needs to rethink their naming. I doubt this is what they have in mind. Besides, the Wii beat them to it in designing a controller that looks like a sex toy.

  • The Magic Wand [libida.com] has been around for years.

    I can't believe that Microsoft is abusing the patent system.

    • by donaldm (919619)

      The Magic Wand [libida.com] has been around for years.

      I can't believe that Microsoft is abusing the patent system.

      You are right I can't believe that Microsoft would try to patent, copyright or even register words that have been around for a very long time, like "Office", "Word" or Windows" ... ?

      Err! never mind. :)

  • Microsoft is trying to pwn my Bluetooth trackball?
  • by blahbooboo (839709) on Monday May 18, 2009 @12:14PM (#27998303)

    Surely someone is going to point out the comparison to the original magic wand? I think this might prevent Micro$oft's patent as it came out in the 1970s??

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16896630001 [newegg.com]

  • by DigitalSorceress (156609) on Monday May 18, 2009 @12:16PM (#27998325)

    The Doctor called... He wants to have a word with them about his sonic screwdriver.

  • by kawabago (551139) on Monday May 18, 2009 @12:17PM (#27998361)
    It's time Microsoft stopped inventing things that already exist!
  • by FlyingSquidStudios (1031284) on Monday May 18, 2009 @12:21PM (#27998437) Homepage
    but they still can't use it to make Vista disappear.
  • RECTUMSEMPRA...

    which is either a spell from Harry Potter or Latin for Timely Assholes.

    Magic Wang Err wand.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      "Levitatus Chairus!"

      "Developamus! Developamus! Developamus!"

  • a magic wand that actually worked to control or communicate with objects or components in an associated nearby environment.

    What about Wand of Levitation, Wand of Cold, Wand of Teleportation and Wand of Wonder?

    Once again, Microsoft is late to the game.
  • by v1 (525388) on Monday May 18, 2009 @12:23PM (#27998495) Homepage Journal

    Having something that operates a bit like a wii controller combined with a universal remote.

    Imagine pointing the wand at your receiver and giving an upward flitting motion and the receiver bumps up the volume. or flick to the right and it changes stations or goes to the next track. Twirl it in a circle clockwise to turn on or counterclockwise to turn off etc.

    And would only react to the device you point at. (might have to establish separate gestures for nearby components etc)

    I'd buy that.

    • by Random2 (1412773)
      I see it now: interactive porn. Flip the stick up for a thrust, roll it for a moan....
    • by ouimetch (1433125)
      I could see a lot of wrist flicking being a serious problem for older people or other people with arthritis. I'm not sure what Microsoft is trying to do with this, but a hunch tells me it isn't going to work out like they hope it will.
    • Imagine pointing the wand at your receiver and giving an upward flitting motion and the receiver bumps up the volume. or flick to the right and it changes stations or goes to the next track. Twirl it in a circle clockwise to turn on or counterclockwise to turn off etc.

      . . . I'm imagining hurling the thing at my television, which is showing politicians making lame excuses about why they used taxpayer money to clean the moats of their private residences (and other wacky stuff). And that the politician can actually feel the pain when the wand hits the screen.

      Now that is what I call political accountability.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Overzeetop (214511)

      Combining the accuracy of the Wiimote with a gestural interface seems like a very bad idea.

    • Having something that operates a bit like a wii controller combined with a universal remote.

      Imagine pointing the wand at your receiver and giving an upward flitting motion and the receiver bumps up the volume. or flick to the right and it changes stations or goes to the next track. Twirl it in a circle clockwise to turn on or counterclockwise to turn off etc.

      And would only react to the device you point at. (might have to establish separate gestures for nearby components etc)

      I'd buy that.

      Sounds nifty... But I fail to see how it would be an improvement over the universal remote that I have.

      I don't see how physical gestures would be any easier or more intuitive than just hitting a button labeled "on" or "volume." And I'm really not sure how it would tell whether I want to turn on the TV, the VCR, the DVD player, or the cable box... They're all piled within about a foot of eachother. Unless you had a different gesture for each device... Or a selector switch/button to tell the wand what to

    • And would only react to the device you point at. (might have to establish separate gestures for nearby components etc)

      I would have thought the initial pointing at the device you want to control would be enough to indicate which device is being controlled, then you can just use the same motions to mean different things to different device.

    • by adavies42 (746183)

      Imagine pointing the wand at your receiver and giving an upward flitting motion and the receiver bumps up the volume.

      Do I have to say "wingardium leviosa"?

  • by rodney dill (631059) on Monday May 18, 2009 @12:30PM (#27998591) Journal
    ... As long as it works by magic, and not technology, give 'em the patent.
    • by pluther (647209)

      ... As long as it works by magic, and not technology, give 'em the patent.

      But if it's sufficiently advanced, how would you distinguish the two?

  • the USPTO should (Score:3, Interesting)

    by FudRucker (866063) on Monday May 18, 2009 @12:33PM (#27998641)
    turn this down, it is too generic, it should be impossible to patent an idea or concept, only actual products manufactured should be patentable...
    • only actual products manufactured should be patentable...

      Because the Patent system was clearly created to product giant corporations with large prototyping labs.

    • So, um.... Did you bother to read the claims?

  • by genghisjahn (1344927) on Monday May 18, 2009 @12:34PM (#27998665) Homepage
    ...let's see how well you use it. And so began the great wand battle of '09 between MS and Nintendo.
  • OT: Paid by word? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JustinOpinion (1246824) on Monday May 18, 2009 @12:37PM (#27998721)

    Somewhat off-topic, but the wording in patent applications always amuses me. For instance, the abstract says:

    The architecture can utilize one or more sensor from a collection of sensors to determine an orientation or gesture in connection with the wand, and can further issue an instruction to update a state of an environmental component based upon the orientation.

    They say "one or more sensor from a collection of sensors", which is redundant. They could just say "sensors". And why say "can further issue an instruction to update a state of an environmental component" when it is simpler to just say "can update another component"?

    The architecture can utilize sensors to determine orientation or gesture of the wand, and can update another component based upon the orientation.

    I understand the need for precision. And I guess if they don't claim "one or more sensors" then someone can try to circumvent the patent by doing the same thing with only one single sensor (or whatever). But it still sounds ridiculous, and is no excuse for making confusing sentences. So many sentences are needlessly complicated or outright superfluous. Is there really no better way to word patents?

    Can anyone comment? Is that kind of wording truly necessary for the patent to be robust, or is the wording intentionally obtuse and confusing, so that they can later use the ambiguity to argue for broader applicability?

    • "one or more sensor from a collection of sensors" is not equal to the word "sensors."

      In mathematical terms, the former means >= 1 and the latter means > 1

      unless I'm missing something, and that's always possible.

      • Sure, but what does the "from a collection of sensors" add to the meaning? And why can't they just write "sensor(s)" if they absolutely need the "one or more" part?

        And moreover my question is whether or not they really do need the precision of "one or more" (especially in the abstract). The same logic applies to all the other potentially superfluous words. Yes there is a different between "issue an instruction to update" and simply "update", but is that differentiation actually crucially necessary from a le

    • Enforceability of a patent is generally based on the precision (wording and schematics) of its patent documents.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by acohen1 (1454445)

      I was a co-inventor on a recent patent application and I can attest that pretty much all patents are written this way to make them as precise and robust as possible. Sometimes these phrases like "a collection of sensors" might refer specifically to a prior description or figure. Anyway, this is totally typical, and no the lawyers are not paid by word.

    • Can anyone comment? Is that kind of wording truly necessary for the patent to be robust, or is the wording intentionally obtuse and confusing, so that they can later use the ambiguity to argue for broader applicability?

      Uh, yes? Both necessary to robust and to later use ambiguity. For example:

      The architecture can utilize one or more sensor from a collection of sensors

      can apply to a single sensor. However:

      They could just say "sensors".

      could be read during litigation as applying only to two or more sensors, so a device that only effects a change via one sensor wouldn't infringe.

      But it still sounds ridiculous, and is no excuse for making confusing sentences. So many sentences are needlessly complicated or outright superfluous. Is there really no better way to word patents?

      Agreed, but unfortunately, no... Consider how confusing contracts tend to be - same exact reason. It's not a case of "why say in two words what you can say in twenty", it's more that those twenty words define a much more exact and specific definition than

    • Scope. You want your patent to be as inclusive as possible because you don't want to have to file another one to adjust for some small changes.
  • and set of blingy neck chains, a runes book, and do jigs and circus moves. That'll impress me. Games makers already are on this, ms, so back off. Your acts further justify massive patent reform's need, clowns.

    (Yeh, shills/acolytes, go ahead, marke me inflammatory/troll...)

  • Come on people, get with the program!

  • 1. They totally missed on the Tablet PC concept and burned OEM's on it. Don't worry J's going to fix it!

    2. They *totally* screwed device developers by dropping their OEM DRM scheme and release one of their own. Don't worry J's going fix the Zune.

    3.They totally missed integrating new HID in xbox. Don't worry J's going to fix that too!

    4. J's going to be working on an operating system GUI in about a decade. He'll fix that too!

    What are the chances just one of those things will work out well for Microsoft?

  • by Ozric (30691) <ozric&tampabay,rr,com> on Monday May 18, 2009 @12:45PM (#27998851)

    [quote]device that can manipulate and interact with its environment[/quote]

    I will stick with the katana .. it manupulates and interacts with the phyical enviroment very well.

    Does a good job on people with pesky magic wands too!

    No sensors or gizmos needed, and only effects what you point it.

    YMMV

  • From our garden simulator help file:
    http://www.kurtz-fernhout.com/help100/00000136.htm [kurtz-fernhout.com]
    "The magic wand is used to grow plants, to pull all plants in a soil patch, to duplicate plants and soil patches, to rename plants, to reseed plants, and to place plants in stasis (or remove them from stasis). The tool actions associated with any tool can be changed in the tool editor."

    You could also map action from other tools, like the "growcorder" onto the magic wand to use it for that functionality:

  • by Junior J. Junior III (192702) on Monday May 18, 2009 @12:53PM (#27998993) Homepage

    Micosoft Wang.

  • Will Apple compete with iPixie Dust? Java already has magic beans covered.

  • Meh (Score:5, Funny)

    by srussia (884021) on Monday May 18, 2009 @01:06PM (#27999187)
    Probably just a stretched-out Clippy.
  • FROM ACROSS THE ROOM!!!!!!!!

    As a method of projecting power, there's a lot to be said for the patent system, as opposed to billy clubs, but beyond that it usually seems really lame.

  • by Torodung (31985) on Monday May 18, 2009 @01:09PM (#27999233) Journal

    "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

    And apparently, in their filing, Microsoft thinks that any sufficiently obvious idea is indistinguishable from innovation.

    --
    Toro

    • Any sufficiently obvious idea is indistinguishable from innovation.

      I think we're ready for a new meme ... I vote for "The Gates-Ballmer Paradigm"

      • by adavies42 (746183)

        other laws:

        • gates-sturgeon: 90% of microsoft software is crap
        • gates-hanlon: never ascribe to malice that which can be attributed to backward compatibility
        • gates-sturgeon-clarke: 90% of any sufficiently advanced version of windows is indistinguishable from crap
  • ...[Zap!] You're a toad!

    -- Merlin

  • by pembo13 (770295) on Monday May 18, 2009 @01:38PM (#27999773) Homepage

    It's already in the shape of a wand. And it can do everything described with simple software updates. Do you get a patent just for using someone else's design now? And that's not considering how innovative the Wii controller is itself.

  • by jollyreaper (513215) on Monday May 18, 2009 @01:55PM (#28000095)

    He claims prior Dark Art.

  • A description in a work of fiction is enough to discount the application as not being an original and/or non-obvious invention right? The first thing that comes to my mind when I read the summary is the wands Adele Mundy of Chatsworth uses constantly to interact with her computer systems.....
  • If I could wave my magic wand...

    I am made from the dust of the stars
    And the oceans flow in my veins
    Here I hide in the heart of the city
    Like a stranger coming out of the rain

    The evening plane rises up from the runway
    Over constellations of light
    I look down into a million houses
    And wonder what you're doing tonight

    Don't ask me
    I'm just improvising
    My illusion of careless flight
    Can't you see
    My temperature's rising
    I radiate more heat than light

  • According to this item at Hackday.com [hackaday.com] anyway.

  • http://www.creativekingdoms.com/CK1.html [creativekingdoms.com] Creative Kingdoms

    Their MagiQuest game uses a motion-sensitive "magic wand" with an IR transmitter to interact with objects in real space. The game is geared for kids, but it's rather fun to walk through the hotel and trigger animated objects by flicking the wand at them.

  • There was some hullabaloo back when Nintendo first announced the Wii's capabilities because Microsoft had been working on a "magic wand" since somewhere around 1997, I believe. I'm totally unable to find any references, but there WAS a project page hosted by Microsoft which featured (besides an ugly color scheme) photos and text talking about the project/experiment.

    Anyone else know what I'm talking about?
  • Already invented it, he named it the tricorder!
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tricorder [wikipedia.org]

  • ..."swish and flick!"

  • ...that Microsoft will never understand that it's not the *size* of the wand...

  • Me. Me and Harry Potter and like eighty other people.

    Seriously though. Wand broadcasts audio to Mac, Mac recognizes text, executes scripts, controls X10 network, controls stuff inside and outside house, including lights and other computers. Also have X10 keychain built into handle if speech borks.

    kulakovich
  • If it's made by Microsoft, it will probably just cause all my appliances to magically BSOD. I can't wait to wave my wand at my fridge and have it quit cooling, or begin cooling intermittently, or stop cooling and light up with a red sign saying "THIS COPY OF YOUR REFRIGERATOR DOES NOT PASS WAND GENUINE ADVANTAGE"

    Seriously, besides an obvious rip off of the wii-mote, I have NO faith in MS ability to put out a decent product. I can't think of ONE MS product I've liked, ever!

  • so they went to the patent office and filed an application that said

    I want to patent THIS [ted.com]!

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