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The strangest technology patents ever granted

Hundreds of patents are granted every day, many of which never come to anything. Patents were originally devised to protect inventors, but today major companies file for patents even if they see little chance of an actual product emerging from it. Instead, the patent is there to ensure that if someone else wants to use the same idea, they’ll have to pay for it.

Read more: Apple slapped with £300 million fine for three iTunes patents

With that in mind, there’s a huge number of patents that have been granted to technology firms that range from the unusual to the downright ridiculous and we’ve listed a few of them below.

Motorola’s Skin Tattoo

Mobile phone company Motorola must have been at a few too many of former parent company Google’s wacky brain storming sessions when they came up with this idea.

The patent for “coupling an electronic skin tattoo to a mobile communication device,” would essentially use a digital tattoo, or printed electronic circuit, positioned on the user’s neck to improve wireless communication. The device would incorporate a microphone and transmitter, and would pass audio signals to a smartphone, or other connected device, with less background noise.

If a voice-activated throat tattoo isn’t strange enough, the device could also be used to light up in response to certain stimuli, including speaking a particular word or moving the throat muscles in a certain way.

Google Deodoriser

After the disappointment of Google Glass, the search engine giant’s next foray into wearable tech could be a socially-responsive deodoriser. That’s if a recently granted patent ever comes to fruition.

The portable gadget is described as both “odor removing” and a “fragrance emission device,” which is also capable of connecting to your social media accounts and letting you know to avoid nearby friends if you are not smelling your best.

“The device is capable of communicating with a social network of contacts; and a route suggesting portion operable to provide a suggested route away from a set of defined persons within the social network of contacts responsive to the indication of the predicted user odor,” the patent reads.

Apple’s Magic Glove

Back in 2011, Apple was granted a patent for a special kind of glove that could solve the problem of using a touch-screen device while protecting your hands from cold weather.

Although regular, touch-screen compatible gloves are in existence, Apple decided to go down a more technical route with a two-layered glove. The outer shell would be much like the exterior of a normal glove, but this could then be peeled back to reveal the inner layer underneath.

The internal liner would be made from materials with similar properties to human skin, in terms of electrical resistivity or thermal conductivity.

We’re not sure what’s wrong with regular touch-screen gloves (or just taking your gloves off to use your phone), but it’s nice to see Apple looking out for its customers.

Google’s floating server

With the vast amount of information being processed every day, Google’s servers understandably use an awful lot of energy.

In keeping with its attempts to not appear evil, Google filed a patent for a “water-based data centre” back in 2008 that would shift some of its energy consumption to wave or tidal power. Although there’s been no official word on when the floating data centre will emerge, there were reports that Google’s San Francisco barges could be put to an environmentally friendly purpose.

Mitsubishi helps Japanese women

Although on the surface Mitsubishi’s patent for a “phosphor and manufacturing method therefore, and light emission device using the phosphor” sounds like any old jargon-heavy technology patent, a closer look reveals a rather unusual purpose.

The patent indicates that the device would help to display images of Japanese women, because it effectively emits the same skin colour component found in females from the Asian country.

Read more: European patents hit record numbers in 2014

“Then, the device can be regarded to be a very excellent omission device when a special color rendering index R15, which is an index showing a skin color component of Japanese women, is preferably 80 or more, and when a special color rendering index R9 is more preferably 60 or more,” the patent explains. “However, the aforementioned index is not required to be satisfied, depending on differing purposes and applications that do not require color rendering properties.”

Barclay has been writing about technology for a decade, starting out as a freelancer with IT Pro Portal covering everything from London’s start-up scene to comparisons of the best cloud storage services.  After that, he spent some time as the managing editor of an online outlet focusing on cloud computing, furthering his interest in virtualization, Big Data, and the Internet of Things.