Kodak Granted Patents for Modular Digital Photofinishing System

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March 31, 2006 – According to the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, Kodak was granted two patents on March 23 for a modular digital photofinishing system and a system for updating a content bearing medium. The patent applications were filed in the fall of 2004, but were granted only days ago.

Kodak has a vision that the modular digital photofinishing system will be implemented in a variety of settings. According to the patent’s abstract, the system uses "a handheld image display and manipulation device that is capable of two-way wireless communication or communicating by way of a physical interface with a digital photofinishing system, such as a kiosk, in a retail venue."

It isn’t clear whether the system will be implemented in a camera body, although that would be the next step up from Kodak’s wireless EasyShare-one. Still, the patent’s ambiguous wording leans toward a different sort of device.

"The portable unit could also be installed in a table or seat back in the case of a large vehicle such as a bus, train, cruise ship, ferry, or airplane," the Sept. 24 patent reads. "The user would also be relieved of the pressure and discomfort of standing in front of an imaging kiosk while others are waiting for their turns." This statement makes the device sound like a mini-kiosk that would only upload photos, then communicate wirelessly with the larger printer-enabled kiosks. With this concept, users could upload their photos at a mini-kiosk on a train, then pick up the prints at the chosen kiosk.

Kodak’s second patent supports the first. "The content bearing medium has a content bearing signal stored thereon and a communication circuit," reads the patent application. "The communication circuit is adapted to exchange wireless signals with a remote programming device and to store an additional content bearing signal in a memory based upon the signals exchanged." This patent connects the modular digital photofinishing system with the kiosk, a.k.a. the "content bearing medium."

It is unclear if Kodak inked a deal with Bluetooth, although Gizmodo reported today that the two companies collaborated to design a Bluetooth-enabled digital camera.

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