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The Business Page

Welcome to the business page, a blog where I'll take you behind the scenes of greater Rochester's fast-changing economy. My name is Ben Rand, and I intend to introduce you to some of the personalities, concepts and events that make news in business here. I've been a business reporter for eight years in Rochester and a journalist for 18, working in four states. I grew up in Pittsford, but moved away after college for about a decade. My wife and I live in Irondequoit with our two children.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Patently Humorous

In the never-ending scramble to find a competitive edge, businesses often talk about their abilities to innovate and the number of patents they own. The Rochester area, in fact, is known as one of the nation's innovation hotbeds, largely due to the research labs at Kodak, Xerox and Bausch & Lomb. But darn it that one our companies didn't think of this:

According to a news exclusive in the journal Nature (you'll find the home page here), the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office recently issued patent 6,960,975 on Nov. 1 to Boris Volfson of Huntington, Indiana.

Said patent describes "a space vehicle propelled by a superconducting shield, which alters the curvature of space-time outside the craft in a way that counteracts gravity," Nature reports. In other words, it's an anti-gravity device.

The journal explains that one of the main "theoretical" arguments against anti-gravity (theoretically speaking, mind you) is that it suggests the availability of unlimited energy. "If you design an antigravity machine, you've got a perpetual-motion machine," Robert Park, watchdog of junk science at the American Physical Society in Washington, D.C., told Nature.

Locally granted patents don't go quite so far, but do have some interesting subjects. Kodak believes it has technology for a "virtual shopping device" that will allow customers to put a particular set of clothes on an electronic image of themselves. Xerox has apparently identified an improved method for filtering unwanted e-mail messages.

Less well-known local companies are looking at innovations. A company named Unified Solutions Inc. of Rochester, an invention development and marketing firm, has patented an improved version of a pitching machine. Finally, the University of Rochester Medical Center has patented a system that allows doctors to examine and diagnose children at a child care center remotely via the Internet.


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