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MS Seeks Patent On Virtual Fuzzy Dice 173

theodp writes "Microsoft just published a patent application for an adaptive heads-up user interface for automobiles. It covers, among other things, virtual fuzzy dice that appear to move with automobile movements."
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MS Seeks Patent On Virtual Fuzzy Dice

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  • by mattb112885 ( 1122739 ) on Thursday August 23, 2007 @09:29AM (#20329317)
    Did they patent a virtual air freshener too? Because I really need one.
  • Obviousness Criteria (Score:5, Informative)

    by ThosLives ( 686517 ) on Thursday August 23, 2007 @09:31AM (#20329343) Journal

    Hopefully this will fail the new obviousness criteria; note that it is still just an application. Basically, they are combining existing technologies in their obvious functionality: methods to change configuration information and display various information to vehicle operators.

    I don't see any innovation here at all; they are combining elements and the result is the expected result for combining those elements.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by PinkyDead ( 862370 )
      This sucks:

      GM/Ford/BMW (or whoever) patents putting information on the windscreen -- Hmmm useful.

      Microsoft [attempts to] patents putting more information on the windscreen -- WTF?!

      Wasting the patent office's time should be a crime. I wonder could patent a bigger wheel - I'd make a fortune.
      • by GIL_Dude ( 850471 ) on Thursday August 23, 2007 @09:59AM (#20329723) Homepage
        I'm not sure it would even be that useful if GM/Ford/BWM or whoever did it. It would probably be ad-supported anyway. Can you just imagine?

        Hey, driver - you need new wiper blades. Check out the specials at Pep Boys (tm)! While there, get an oil change!

        I just hope that never comes true!
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          My dell here does that for me. It's let me know for the past 6 months that my battery "is still working, but nearing the end of its useful life." The same notice provides a handy "come on down to the web dealership..." notice and link to dell's shop. It does this each time the laptop starts. Oh, and the laptop is one year old, so it was six months old when it started this crap.
          • by djh101010 ( 656795 ) * on Thursday August 23, 2007 @11:20AM (#20330877) Homepage Journal

            Oh, and the laptop is one year old, so it was six months old when it started this crap.

            Seems to me, that'd be a great time to call Dell for a warranty replacement of the battery. Make their advertising scheme cost them. "Your app tells me that my battery, which is only 6 months old, is already crap. Send me a new one."
    • Elite Plus for RiscOS had a set of virtual fuzzy dice. They were quite useful, since they gave a good indicator of your current roll speed, without having to look down at the roll indicator. I wonder if they would count as prior art for this. The only difference is that the input for a real car comes from a sensor, rather than a simulated environment.
      • by dknj ( 441802 )
        So did this 1993 32-bit arcade game, Gale Racer [system16.com]
      • by Bob Ince ( 79199 )
        [quote]They were quite useful[/quote]

        I LOL you.

        As the author of those fluffy dice, I can tell you there was no intention of be (a) in any way useful or (b) anything I thought Microsoft would ever want to copy, let alone patent...
    • by COMON$ ( 806135 ) *
      I don't see any innovation here at all;

      Oh come on this is Microsoft we are talking about, we dont expect innovation. MS hasnt been all that innovative since win 95 and maybe NT.

      Even there it had been done before. But to ward off the flame modders I have to put this stipulation in. What MS is really good at is taking existing proven technologies and putting them into an attractive package. I am a mostly M$ shop with about 1/5 being Mac and some linux servers splashed around here and there. If you want

      • Oh come on this is Microsoft we are talking about, we dont expect innovation. MS hasnt been all that innovative since win 95 and maybe NT.
        What exactly was innovative about Win95 and NT?
        • by COMON$ ( 806135 ) *
          the proof that you could make a 8 year old sit for 4 hours with 3.5 diskettes in hand just to see a pretty blue screen :) Sure xerox did it first but I didn't spend hours with corrupt diskettes trying to install their OS.

          But notice my follow up statement Even there it had been done before. The just took something interesting and made it appealing to the masses.

          • by COMON$ ( 806135 ) *
            but of course I was quite a bit older than 8, and my ADD was in full force by the time of win95 so the innovation of the concept to make people go through extraordinary lengths to get something they don't need or really want was impressive.
          • Windows 95's GUI was a busted ripoff of the OS/2 2.x GUI. It ran Windows 3.1 apps more poorly and with less stability than OS/2 2.1. Microsoft's true revolution with Chicago/Windows 95 was in having all those friendly publications out there publishing artists renderings a year or more before anything resembling the final product appeared, touting vaporware and somehow convincing consumers to stick around with Windows 3.1 in the meantime.

            They didn't start getting it right until Windows 98SE, four years aft
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by sqldr ( 838964 )
      Hopefully this will fail the new obviousness criteria

      I, on the other hand, hope that all of microsoft's other patents fail, and this is the only one they're left with in their entire portfolio. Fluffy dice.
    • It's not obvious, It's done with a computer!
      It's kinda the magic sentence to get your patent approved these days...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 23, 2007 @09:31AM (#20329355)
    I have some fuzzy dangling things that they can try and patent.
  • Great (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 23, 2007 @09:32AM (#20329363)
    Just what we need from a heads-up display: something which conveys no useful information and serves only to distract the driver from their main job of keeping the car on the road. This strikes me as a perfect example of the rule that, simply because you can do something, doesn't mean you should.
    • Re:Great (Score:5, Insightful)

      by somersault ( 912633 ) on Thursday August 23, 2007 @09:50AM (#20329589) Homepage Journal
      "Simply because you can do something, doesn't mean you should."

      I thought that was one of Microsofts' main beliefs.. simply because they can put out (largely) pointless new versions of Office and Windows, they do. They also charge insane amounts for little extra functionality, just because they can. At least people are catching on a bit with Vista.
      • Nothing new here (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Gazzonyx ( 982402 )
        Unfortunately, consumerism isn't driven by the "ability does not dictate necessity" mentality. Just take a look at the cars on the road to see this in action. How many SUV's do you see? There would be no Escalades if people didn't want lots of "chrome". We're all guilty of feeding this cycle, as I see it.
        • Not that many SUVs in the UK, but I get your point. The thing is, that Microsoft (and car manufacturers, though cars do rust over time, while software only goes 'out of style') kind of forces this on consumers by only selling the latest and 'greatest' versions of their products. All software companies do this, but with Microsoft the effect is a lot stronger because so many people use their software, and the formats aren't great for backwards compatability.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Gazzonyx ( 982402 )
            That's a very good point; I think that companies 'forcing' software on people is the other half of the viscous cycle - if they don't, their competitors will.

            I think we're all partly responsible for Microsoft being what it is. And I'm saying this, mind you, as a Linux user. If Microsoft didn't 'push' software on us, Apple would; if Apple didn't, IBM would... Sun... Novell... your friends neighbors brothers nephew ("...and everyone says he's a real whiz with computers, and he's writing this software tha

            • After thinking about it a bit more, he vicious cycle that you mention - which I guess we can basically just call 'progress' - is in the end a good thing because you do get genuine benefits occasionally. Even in Microsoft Office I guess, which is my favourite product to get pissed off at when people want to upgrade just for the sake of it (next in line would be Windows, and then comes the CAD programs the engineers use here). Through the last few versions of Office the only thing I've noticed being different
              • by Locutus ( 9039 )
                Microsoft product updates, 90% substance, 10% style? Me thinks you have got those numbers reversed.

                • No, I was saying that's what I'd prefer. Microsoft products are 1% style, 0.8% substance and 98.2% bugs. That's only a rough estimate.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Locutus ( 9039 )
      Didn't you know that they had promoted the designer of Microsoft BOB to the auto research department?

    • It reminds me of some new car stereos I looked at.

      When I went to the shop there were two of interest. One of them, $150.00 au, has excellent amps, plays mp3 and wma, cd, radio and has an auxillary input on the face plate. It also has a really cheap looking old fashioned blocky LCD display. The other has all the same features, except for lower quality amps but a photo realistic full colour display with animations depicting not only a vu meter, but also groovy little "this is the source you have selected" th

  • by downix ( 84795 ) on Thursday August 23, 2007 @09:32AM (#20329367) Homepage
    I can't wait till the virtual dancing hula girl arrives.... She could probably even dance to show you the direction to turn when plugged into your GPS.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Andrewkov ( 140579 )
      You should patent that before someone from Microsoft reads your post!
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      Virtual bobbing chihuahua head. It detects when someone is tailgating and then, while bobbing up and down, it flips the driver the bird.

    • by Locutus ( 9039 )
      I've already( just ) filed the patent for the virtual bouncing doggie head. I called she Rover.

      I've also just filed the patent on the virtual bouncing girlfriend head. Well, virtual back of head and there's support for theming too. ;-)

  • And what if Microsoft made cars [usd.edu]? Soon we will see...
  • And all the microsoft-crashes-your-car jokes start in 3...2...1...

    I'll throw in one: Does the blue screen block my view of the road for when the dice program crashes?
  • by CIANCHAMBLISS ( 955013 ) on Thursday August 23, 2007 @09:35AM (#20329399)
    First Clippy, now Dicey?
  • by OctoberSky ( 888619 ) on Thursday August 23, 2007 @09:37AM (#20329431)
    Does this patent cover anything that sways when hung from a virtual car and virtually sways?

    I'm really concerned about the virtual nutsack I have hanging from my virtual trailer hitch on my virtual truck.
    • While the patent obviously covers fuzzy dice, it also covers dangling CDs, native american dream catchers, and other things that are hung by a string. It does not cover things like Hawaiian leis, or for all you single guys out there, wedding garters.
  • Vista Riceboy Edition
  • by epseps ( 39675 )
    Now cars will become part of a massive spam sending botnet.

  • Microsoft is getting into the porn industry?
  • I once played an arcade racing game where you race trucks and one of them had purple dice that showed up on screen and bounced around in your view.
  • At least at Apple, OS revs get way-layed by iPhones. But this...

  • Prior art (Score:3, Funny)

    by Kazymyr ( 190114 ) on Thursday August 23, 2007 @09:47AM (#20329561) Journal
    I have had fuzzy dice that move with the car movements for as long as I can remember. And it's a mechanical device too, not your fancy digital dice. Now excuse me, I gotta go put holes in some punchcards.
  • by G4from128k ( 686170 ) on Thursday August 23, 2007 @09:48AM (#20329577)
    Just what the motoring public needs, another source of distraction. I can see it now. People will hack the fuzzy dice to do all sorts of amusing things, notice them while driving, and crash (physically, not in the software sense).

    On the plus side, I would imagine this "feature" will get the device banned under California's no "entertainment" video displays in sight of the driver whilst the car is in motion.
    • by hoggoth ( 414195 )
      > Just what the motoring public needs, another source of distraction. I can see it now. People will hack the fuzzy dice to do all sorts of amusing things

      I can't wait to hack into these remotely and turn ALL the pixels opaque black!
      Or better yet, have a virtual motorcycle turn into your lane and head straight for you!
  • Distractions (Score:2, Insightful)

    by sjaguar ( 763407 )
    Okay, if done nicely, I wouldn't mind a heads-up display (HUD). But does the general driving population need more driving distractions? Also, would other drivers be able to see it (say from behind)? Other vehicle's TVs and crap dangling from the rearview mirror always bugs me.
    • by Locutus ( 9039 )
      what is really silly is they hung the virtual dice from a virtual rearview mirror. If you think people have trouble understanding and using rear/side view mirrors now, just wait til they not only have the real one, but Microsoft thought everyone should have a virtual one too.

      It's like having a freak'n titlebar on a QVGA PDA/handheld computer screen. WTF?

  • I cant wait to get one so I can have...

    My own....
    • That's not a bad idea. They should give it an animation, mood sensing technology, and make it say "What would Jesus do?" everytime you scream at the other cars.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Zordok ( 90071 )
      If it's virtual, how can you "reach out and touch faith"?
  • by Colin Smith ( 2679 ) on Thursday August 23, 2007 @09:58AM (#20329707)
    A huge finger on the other hand...

  • ... as long as I got my digital Jesus, riding on the dashboard of my car.
  • Hey, where is my virtual fluffy dashboard and virtual coffee can conversion?
  • by blcamp ( 211756 ) on Thursday August 23, 2007 @10:12AM (#20329889) Homepage

    A patent on Virtual Flying Chairs?!

  • Sadly, great technological advances such as this always seem to require useless, utterly stupid gimmicks like that in order to achieve wide adoption.
  • by PPH ( 736903 ) on Thursday August 23, 2007 @02:36PM (#20333677)
    ...display virtual loose bits of paper, assorted junk and fast food wrappers that slide back and forth on my dashboard as I go around corners?
  • You are attempting to brake at a stop sign. Cancel or Allow?
  • I think that they're talking about a system where, for example,
    When it notices that you've just had an accident (as indicated by a triggered airbag), the speedometer is replaced by a huge 'hazard light' switch..

    If this occurs just as you're reaching for where the hazard light was, then it'll switch the hazard light back to it's usual position -- just as you're reaching for it in the normal speedometer position. ... ad-infinitum, until the ambulance crew shows up and admits you to the psych ward.

  • Um, isn't that already in use in a ton of other games already?
    I know I saw it in Crazy Taxi (on the Dreamcast)...

    Ug... This patent crap has gotten out of hand.
    We should just scrap the whole pile of fuzzy dice & start over with a shorter available protection period & an easier means of shooting down invalid patent apps to begin with.

  • For those masters of innovation at Microsoft!

    Fuzzy dice - a Bill Gates invention!

    60 million sold in the first six months!

    Fuzzy Dice Service Pack 1 will soon be released!

    Meanwhile, Secunia released a study today that says Fuzzy Dice can be "pwned" in seconds...

Perfection is acheived only on the point of collapse. - C. N. Parkinson