Microsoft's agreement to acquire Canesta Inc., confirmed late last week, will give the Microsoft 44 patents and about 24 patent covering various ways of enhancing a computer's senses -- including gesture recognition, depth perception, and real-time camera and sensor calibration. Taken as a whole, they show how Microsoft could give users new ways of interacting with future versions of its PC and mobile operating systems.
And then there's the smart airbag and the pothole-avoidance system.
The basic idea (diagram above) is to use depth-sensing sensors mounted on a car to alert the driver when a pothole or other obstacle is in the way, by sensing whether any portion of the road is unusually higher or lower than the rest. The patent focuses largely on usage when backing up.
The intelligent airbag system Patent No. 7,526,120, would use sensors and underlying software to determine the appropriate "deployment level" of an airbag, depending on the characteristics of the person sitting in a particular seat.