Could SyncThink Patent For Adding Eye Tracking In VR HMDs Stifle Innovation?

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Dantte

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SyncThink developed this technology with the help of the US government (military) and tax payer money! This should exempt them from filing a patent!
 

CaptCalamity

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I thought patents were on implementations not ideas. What is to stop someone from coming up with a different method of tracking pupils?

If we allow patents to stop innovation on ideas instead of protecting actual implementations then we have a severely broken patent system.
 

clonazepam

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This article reminded me that I had looked up patents regarding VR. Google, Sony, and a few others pretty much have it all carved up for themselves. From GUI implementation to just about anything else you could think of.

I'd expect to see the same as we've seen with the cell phone market. A lot of patent lawsuits are probably on the way.
 

Jim90

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CAPTCALAMITY: "If we allow patents to stop innovation on ideas instead of protecting actual implementations then we have a severely broken patent system."
+1000
 

asgallant

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If the content of the patent specifically covers eye tracking in VR HMD's, it will fail the originality and obviousness tests in any patent challenge, considering that the idea of eye tracking in HMD's has been around since the days when Occulus Rift was just a Kickstarter project.
 

Zapin

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Patents are fine as long as the patent holder does not value it so high that it has a negative effect on Innovation. If a hardware manufacturer can save on R&D by implementing SyncThink techniques into their HMD for a reasonable cost per unit then it could mean the difference between the headset having eye tracking or not. The FOVE uses their own eye tracking I think and I doubt they are freely sharing their methodology.
 

virtualban

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Lawyers are bureaucratizing everything in sight. They may need to eat too, but, maybe a guillotine is a good solution to starving lawyers and stifled innovation.
 

grimfox

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I don't like this patent. There is no way a medical company is going to share or license the patent without a medical grade price. The company also sounds pretty troll-y. Why would a devoted medical company even look at consumer implications unless they were planning to make a buck of their patent. I'm sure they will go after FOVE or one of the other early eye-tracking companies that can't afford to fight to set a precedent in the courts and then jump on occulus/facebook when they undoubtedly try to use it for foveated rendering or UI usage. Someone needs to jump on this patent right away to get it invalidated. I'm thinking the VR advisory council or similar group. Gather enough companies and lawyers and nip it in the bud.
 

bit_user

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Patents run into problems when they're either overly-broad or insufficiently novel. You'd have to dig into the claims of this one, to see if it meets either criteria.

The upside of patents is that they allow a company to invest significant amounts of money in R&D, without having to worry about a discount competitor ripping off all their hard work. The other benefit is that it forces companies to share how their product works, so that the techniques can eventually be used by anyone.

A world with no patents would have less innovation. That said, the existing patent system still needs improvement.

I disagree with that. If they aren't stupid, they'll be able to understand the market dynamics of the target product and work out a licensing model that would maximize their revenue.

Of course, if they're a troll, they'll use tactics more akin to extortion and try to push startups like Fove to the verge of bankruptcy.
 

grimfox

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Not all medical companies are bad but their reputation of late has been incredibly aggressive and self serving (see any story about emergency auto injectors). I've not seen any indications from this article that this company will be any different.

I agree that there are some patents that deserve to be protected. But I don't think that they should be allowed to be held by law firms or non-practicing entities or sold. The patent is meant to protect the creators while they try to develop and sell their ideas without the threat of knockoffs or a more capable entity from stealing the idea. Of course that's a bit naive as it only takes one large company to drown an independent creator in legal fee's related to patent litigation.

This medical company is certainly larger than a start up like FOVE so I wouldn't be surprised to see them pursue litigation if only to drown FOVE.
 
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