In fiscal year 2012, Siemens increased the number of patents it holds by seven percent to a total of 57,300. Initial patent applications also increased by seven percent. At 8,900, the number of invention applications reached a new all time high. That translates to 41 invention applications per workday. A major contribution to this figure was made by 12 particularly successful researchers and developers, whom Siemens CEO Peter Löscher honored as „Inventors of the Year 2012“ at a ceremony in Munich on December 13. Over the years, these 12 colleagues have amassed 613 invention applications and been awarded 734 patents. Of the total number of Siemens‘ patents, 20,200 are „green“ patents – in other words intellectual property rights associated with the Environmental Portfolio. The products and solutions that make up this portfolio are especially energy efficient, use renewable energy sources or relate to environmental technologies. In fiscal year 2012, Environmental Portfolio sales grew by ten percent to a total of €33.2 billion – that’s faster than Siemens‘ overall growth rate.
Dinotails for Windmills
A small change to the trailing edge of rotor blades reduces the noise created by wind-power plants, while at the same time increasing power generation efficiency. Peder Bay Enevoldsen from Brande in Denmark discovered that a saw-toothed rotor edge was suitable for exactly this purpose. What’s more, the modification can be integrated during production or retrofitted later. Because the saw-tooth profile is reminiscent of a dinosaur’s tail, colleagues at Siemens Wind Power have dubbed the invention „Dinotails.“ Enevoldsen was looking for a solution that would reduce the noise produced by wind turbines – an important consideration for operators of on-shore installations. The invention is actually already several years old. However, with the latest generation of high-performance turbines another benefit has emerged. Because the tips of the rotor blades involved travel at speeds of up to 350 kilometers per hour, the noise level is excessive. To combat this problem, the blades were fitted with Dinotails. Subsequently, it became clear that the saw-toothed edge had also increased the system’s efficiency. In fact, Dinotails can improve the energy yield by up to four percent. But this is only one of Enevoldsen’s 21 inventions for optimizing wind turbines. Altogether, he is credited with 53 individual patents in 21 IPR families.
Looking into the Heart
Thanks to the inventions of Bogdan Georgescu, Siemens has become one of the first companies worldwide to market medical imaging systems that enable the automatic generation of 3D images of patients‘ hearts. The new algorithms used here can also simulate blood flow as a fourth-dimension feature. This enables physicians to better match treatment methods with the needs of individual patients. For eight years Georgescu has been part of a research group at Siemens Corporate Technology in Princeton, New Jersey in the U.S. This group developed special software that doctors can use when making diagnoses, planning therapy, and during operations. The software’s algorithms interpret image content by identifying specific organ attributes that they have learned from a huge amount of data. For example, the software can determine whether or not ventricles are working in synchronization or if a heart valve is not closing properly. Automatic recognition is especially difficult when it comes to the heart because diseases of this organ can have very individual characteristics. Georgescu has registered 133 inventions since joining Siemens as a researcher. He is responsible for 43 individual patents in 81 IPR families.
Alarm during Blackouts
Karen Lontka from Florham Park, New Jersey in the U.S. has many inventions to her credit that make fire alarm warning systems more reliable. One of her most important patents is related to a special circuit configuration. It ensures that when there is a power failure the alarm system will function reliably in battery mode. During power outages there is actually a higher than normal risk of fire because residents are moving around in the dark with lighters and candles. To ensure that warning equipment – such as horns, sirens, and bells coupled with flashing lights – will continue to function, batteries similar to those used in automobiles are installed as an emergency power supply. However, these batteries have the disadvantage that their voltage continuously drains away. Therefore, it has always been necessary to use additional devices – a factor that drives up costs. To solve this problem, Lontka invented a circuit equipped with a power converter that is installed between the primary power source – in other words, the regular power supply – and the secondary power source, in this case the battery. This circuit not only ensures that the voltage is always high enough but also protects the battery against short circuits. Lontka is credited with a total of 35 inventions resulting in 25 individual patents in 20 IPR families.