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Remote Sensing

Patent news: Developments in remote sensing applications and technology

This month's featured patent review by analysts from Nerac
31 February 2007, SPIE Newsroom. DOI: 10.1117/2.2200701.0001
In January, SPIE launched a new online journal, the Journal of Applied Remote Sensing. As you may already know, it will focus on "the concepts, information, and progress of the remote sensing community." Remote sensing, taken in perhaps its broadest sense, has been embraced now for nearly two centuries, starting with the development of the first cameras, used almost immediately to record images of the Earth and its land formations. Its forms and applications are now almost too numerous and varied to set into any complete and clear listing. Where the technology will go in the future is an open question. Science has grabbed hard onto our desire to see beyond our senses and ventures newly on a nearly daily basis into previously unknown territory.
The following is a cross-section of recently published patents and patent applications that describe ways of remote sensing, applications of remote sensing and ways to improve remote sensing now available from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and covering the publication time period since July 1, 2006. The patents and published applications provide a brief overview of some recent efforts in remote sensing, including both new technology and new applications.
2006229814/US-A1: Method of optimizing remote sensing operation timing.
This patent application describes a method by which to optimize the use of remote sensors in field operations to determine a range of "operation variables." The measured values are compared to predicted values, which are then analyzed by a proprietary algorithm to determine whether field operations should be engaged.
Abstract: Presented herein is a method for predicting suitability for performing a remote sensing operation over a particular field. The method includes the step of accessing predicted operation variables at points within the field. These operation variables may include values for weather, crop, and soil conditions. Based on operation suitability parameters selected for each variable, the method predicts remote sensing operation suitability for different points in time.
1677096/EP-A1, Multilane remote sensing detector.
This publication discloses a system that allows the remote detection of vehicle exhaust levels. While remote sensing of exhaust is known, this application seeks to patent a system to allow detection on a road with multiple lanes. Essentially, the system uses multiple radiation emitters and detectors to measure materials in exhaust gases and triangulate the location so as to identify the vehicle in a multilane road.
Abstract: A system for the remote sensing of vehicle emissions in a multilane setting with two or more vehicle travel lanes, the system comprising: at least one radiation source which emits a radiation beam across two or more vehicle travel lanes, and through an exhaust plume of a vehicle; at least one radiation detector for receiving the radiation beam; a receiver for receiving a signal from a transponder associated with the vehicle, wherein the signal includes vehicle information; and at least one processor, characterized in that the at least one processor receives emissions data from the at least one radiation detector and vehicle information from the receiver, and associates the emissions data with the vehicle information for the vehicle.
2006134329/WO-A2, Underwater remote sensing.
This publication describes a method of underwater sensing that seeks to move away from reliance on acoustics. The publication describes the use of electromagnetic energy and shielded antennae to detect objects underwater and the use of multiple antennae to identify the object's location.
Abstract: An underwater remote sensing system comprising a transmitter for transmitting an electromagnetic signal, a receiver for receiving an electromagnetic signal reflected from an object and determining means for determining the location of the object, wherein at least one of the transmitter and receiver is underwater. The determining means may be operable to determine the location of the object using signals received at three or more receiver positions. To do this, three or more receiver antennas may be provided. Alternatively, a single receiver antenna may be provided and moved between three or more different measurement locations.
7154411, Reservoir management system and method.
This recently granted patent describes a remote sensor that monitors vital information in a downhole (oil well) application. The sensor contains data acquisition capabilities that allow it, among other things, to monitor formation pressure, resistivity and temperature, all with the goal of maximizing production. In addition, the unit contains means for determining the charge stored on the battery. In the event the charge falls too low, a signal is sent to the surface. An RF signal is sent downhole, which is converted to DC power to charge the battery.
Abstract: A remote sensing unit for sensing subsurface formation is provided. The remote sensing unit is an active device with the capability of responding to control commands to determine subsurface formation characteristics, and transmitting corresponding data values. Some embodiments of the remote sensing unit include a battery, or a capacitor for storing charge. The embodiments that include the capacitor receive RF power that is converted to a DC signal for storing charge on the capacitor. When the charge is depleted to a specified point, the remote sensing unit prompts the wellbore tool to transmit additional RF power to recharge the capacitor. The remote sensing unit is provided with RF power to wake it up and to place it into an operational mode, and/or to send modulated data values that are then transmitted to the surface where operational decisions for the well may be made.
2006280030/US-A1. Continuous, continental-shelf-scale monitoring of fish populations and behavior.
The need to track and monitor fish populations grows as fish populations decline. Traditional sonar methods, however, are slow and operate only in a narrow beam, and given the size and rapidly changing dynamics of schools of fish, these methods are inexact. This U.S. application describes a method of using acoustic waves and likewise a method using the continental shelf, islands and other geophysical structures to contain such acoustic waves in a quasi-waveguide form. Such containment allows remote sensing of the sensor over a longer range.
Abstract: A real population density and detailed behavior of fish schools and their interaction are continuously monitored over continental-shelf-scale areas spanning thousands of square kilometers by ocean acoustic-waveguide remote sensing. In some embodiments, the capacity of certain geophysical environments, such as continental shelves, islands, etc. to behave as acoustic waveguides is utilized sound propagates over long ranges via trapped modes that suffer only cylindrical spreading loss, rather than the spherical loss suffered in conventional sonar approaches.
Jim Johnson is a Nerac Patent Analyst. Nerac's Intellectual Property Solutions provide a practical understanding of the IP landscape, helping organizations to make informed decisions about R&D planning and business strategy development. Nerac analysts work with clients in the following critical areas:
  • Patentability and Invalidity
  • Patent Portfolio Analysis
  • Commercialization Strategy
  • White Space Analysis