I work for Canon. Part of that work is creating patents protecting the stuff we create.
Here are the granted patents I wrote:
US8090712B2 (Shellshear, Andrew John) Method for navigating large image sets using sort orders
This was about changing sort orders in a big set of photos. If you’re browsing photos using a TV remote, sometimes it’s interesting just to change the sort type (e.g. from date sort to name sort). You can rediscover photos you haven’t looked at in a long time. However, sometimes changing the sort order doesn’t do anything. If the photos are just named “001”, “002”, etc. changing from a date sort to a name sort will leave everything. So, the patent was about annotating the “interesting” photos, the pivot point ones where changing the sort type would produce something interesting and new. The idea was pretty useful in the prototype we’d been developing.
US7817905B2 (Shellshear, Andrew John) Video camera and remote recording system
This one’s my favorite patent. Essentially, it’s an attempt to solve the age-old problem of bad audio in video cameras. The audio is often bad because the microphone is nowhere near the subject. You can run a microphone on a cable, but that’s inconvenient. You can use a radio mic, but there’s sometimes interference. And you can use a separate mic and recorder, but then you have sync problems with the video. The idea was a detachable mic+recorder that kept good sync with the camera because it was attached to the camera most of the time. You could also use the mic+recorder as a remote control for the camera, or control it from the camera. I still want one of these – when I wrote the patent, it seemed a way off because you always recorded to tape. Nowadays, everything’s solid-state, and it’d be a cinch.
US7788301B2 (Brown, Craig Matthew; Shellshear, Andrew John; Gorton, Rebecca Jayne) Metadata driven user interface
This one was a bit obscure. Essentially, we wanted to be able to advise people on what metadata they could use to sort lists. The patent chose which sort orders to show based on what was actually useful. It was reasonably useful in the product we were working on.
US7446784B2 (Crew, Laurence; Shellshear, Andrew John) Displaying a plurality of images in a stack arrangement
This one won an award inside CiSRA. It was mostly Laurence’s idea; I just added a nice twist to it and got credit! The idea was that in a stack of photos (with each one somewhat obscuring the ones behind it), lining them up so that they could all be seen was a bit awkward when everything was a different aspect ratio. We had a scheme of resizing photos to make them line up neatly. It worked pretty well for our demo.
I’ve also got a couple of other patent applications in the pipeline. They take up to seven years to get granted from when you submit them to the USPTO.