Saturday, June 20, 2009

Big Changes Coming to Bing Maps

Looks like Microsoft's new search portal,, is going to get an upgrade to its mapping software that will help it go after Google maps. According to this patent application, Microsoft engineers are working on a routing program that will let a user specify which portions of the route are going to be traveled by foot, bicycle or public transportation. Depending on the mode of transport, the program will suggest routes that may not be passable by cars (i.e., bike paths and pedestrian walkways).

The patent application indicates that the route will be calculated in a way that takes the safety of the path into account based on the user's chosen mode of transport. Right now, Google maps will let you route by public transportation or by walking, but not by bicycle. There is also no way to split up a trip between two modes of transport. As a big fan of bicycling and public transportation, SWDELAW is looking forward to the update. An image from the patent is below.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

BMW Tries Patenting Concept of Auto Leasing

Below is an excerpt from this recent patent application by BMW entitled "SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR SELLING ALTERNATIVE FUEL VEHICLES" :

An alternative fuel vehicle is provided to a consumer at an initial purchase price or lease rate which is subsidized by the vehicle manufacturer or financing institution. In one embodiment, the vehicle purchaser is then charged a periodic user fee that is a function of both the distance driven over some predetermined period of time and an applicable unit rate.

It seems that the Supreme Court's forthcoming ruling in In re Bilski may have some impact on how effective BMW will be in enforcing this novel concept.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

New Carbon Fork from Specialized Bicycles

Specialized Bicycles is working on a new approach to making carbon front forks.  According to this patent application, Specialized's new carbon fork will have a transition between the fork crown and the steerer that is located within the head tube.  One wonders whether this kind of set up will improve steering quickness or high speed stability.  A photo of the new fork setup is below.