Don't get me started on patents for software and 'business ideas'. They were pretty ingenious in the 18th century when the ground rules were set, and they still make sense to hardware inventors:
Publicise your invented secrets so others can climb on your shoulders, and gain protection in exchange, allowing you to make money from your ingenuity for a while. Everybody gains.
Grifters were just as sharp then, and the rules were created to shut them out. But the system relied on lawyers and judges enforcing the rules, and once they started to slip, to re-interpret the rules, the end was in sight.
Good law, badly executed. Society's loss.
Fact is, it's easier to be a lawyer and make money by working on behalf of those who don't have the common good at heart, than it is to become an engineer and invent something that benefits society as a whole, AND get protection for it .
It is also easy, as engineers, to invent recording equipment that allows artists to sell multiple reproductions of their work, but which also allows unscrupulous unlicensed copying to break copyright laws.
Power without responsibility, that's engineering. Ask Nobel.
Another unique patent, this one from Microsoft.
I wonder how the product manufacturer would address potential liability if, for instance, a person follows the "safer" route and is mugged?
Or if the data is out of date and the neighborhood has gone from being a "good" to a "bad" neighborhood?
Or how the differentiation between "good" and "bad" is made?
"As a pedestrian travels, various difficulties can be encountered, such as traveling through an unsafe neighborhood or being in an open area that is subject to harsh temperatures. A route can be developed for a person taking into account factors that specifically affect a pedestrian. Moreover, the route can alter as a situation of a user changes; for instance, if a user wants to add a stop along a route."
".....A gather component 102 can obtain information related to pedestrian travel. Example information related to pedestrian travel include maps (e.g., extracted from a database), user history, weather information, crime statistics, demographic information, etc".
Drones are, in essence, flying autonomous vehicles. Pros and cons surrounding drones today might well foreshadow the debate over the development of self-driving cars. In the context of a strongly regulated aviation industry, "self-flying" drones pose a fresh challenge. How safe is it to fly drones in different environments? Should drones be required for visual line of sight – as are piloted airplanes? Join EE Times' Junko Yoshida as she moderates a panel of drone experts.