# IBM Patents Guessing How Many Kids Are On A School Bus

### from the jellybeans-in-a-jar-patent-is-next dept

theodp writes “Self-described patent reformer IBM was awarded a patent Tuesday for Utilizing Gross Vehicle Weight to Determine Passenger Numbers. And yes, the ‘invention’ of five IBMers is what you think it is – from the Abstract: ‘A total weight of passengers on the vehicle is divided by an estimated weight of each of the passengers to estimate how many passengers are on the vehicle.’ First-graders everywhere will no doubt rejoice to learn that the elusive how-many-kids-are-on-the-school-bus problem has finally been solved!”

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Companies: ibm

## Comments on “IBM Patents Guessing How Many Kids Are On A School Bus”

Anonymous Coward says:

WTF? They just patented this:

***
Empty school bus weight: S1
Full school bus weight: S2
Average passenger weight: X

Number of passengers = (S1 – S2) / X
***

How is this not bloody obvious?

Anonymous Coward says:

# Re: Re:

Frack, it was supposed to be:

Number of passengers = (S2 – S1) / X

Hulser (profile) says:

# Re: Re: Re:

See, the fact that it took you two tries to get it right proves it’s non-obvious. /s

Anon says:

# Re: Re: Re:

Clearly it took you nearly two minutes to solve this problem. Patent examiners can’t be expected to spend that much time to examine a patent. That would be ridiculous.

Anonymous Coward says:

# Re: Re: Re: Re:

Well, one would have to consider the number of patents being processed and the amount of time it would take to process them all if each one took two minutes and one would also have to consider the number of patent examiners involved.

If there are 20 patent examiners and each patent takes each patent examiner two minutes to process then you can process 2000 patents in 200 minutes.

Hopefully the above calculation won’t cause me to get sued for patent infringement.

How many patent examiners are there and how many patents are being processed and how long does it take to process each patent?

Anonymous Coward says:

# Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

its infringing on my patent on “while online, 1000`s of years old math patent”

The Groove Tiger (profile) says:

# Re: Re: Re: Re:

Total number of neurons used by patent examiners to award a patent = (# of Patents / # of Examiners / (0.125) * 247) ^ 0.

Josh in CharlotteNC (profile) says:

# Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

I think you’re giving them too much credit. there should be a ‘- 1’ at the end of your formula.

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

# Re: Re: Re:

No, the first way works, you just missed the part after the equals sign.

(S1-S2)/x=|e|
Where
S1 = weight of buss
S2 = weight of buss plus kids
X = average kid weight
E = estimated number of kids

(If I remember my math, the | | symbol is an absolute symbol so the number is positive even if it’s negative.)

And you can patent that.

MrWilson says:

# Re: Re:

Forget obviousness. They patented a mathematical equation. It’s not even a complex algorithm or anything you need to take years of college math to understand.

Absurd and obvious patent is patently and obviously absurd.

Anonymous Coward says:

And people take patents seriously LoL

Hulser (profile) says:

# Laughable

I think most Americans have a healthy distrust of government, but the patent office holds a special place in this negative view. The stereotypes are that the IRS is evil, politicians are corrupt, the DMV is indifferent, etc. But what’s the general view of the patent office? Because even people who aren’t up on all the latest patent and IP issues, the average person on the street, has heard about these kinds of ridiculous patents, I’d say the answer is “incompetent”. That’s gotta sting. People don’t like government agencies for various reasons, but they don’t like your agency because it’s laughably stupid. Ouch.

weneedhelp (profile) says:

# Re: Laughable - stereotypes?

The stereotypes are that the IRS is evil, politicians are corrupt, the DMV is indifferent

I dont think they can be considered stereotypes when they are fact. LOL

Anonymous Coward says:

# Re: Re: Laughable - stereotypes?

The DMV is inefficient *

There, fixed that for you.

Pete says:

# Re: Laughable

Since we have a democracy here, this dim view of the government really reflects the ability of the citizens to make good choices. If you say this government is incompetent, then you are saying the majority of Americans are incompetent in choosing who should represent them.

So, those who complain are either a bunch of hypocrites or really don’t believe in democracy.

Josh in CharlotteNC (profile) says:

# Re: Re: Laughable

The biggest argument against democracy is a five minute discussion with the average voter. – Winston Churchill

I don’t really disagree with your comment. Every time I go vote, I’m either picking the least worst candidate, knowingly selecting someone who doesn’t have a chance of winning, or eventually disappointed by my choice (even though I should know better).

Decent, intelligent people with convictions are mostly ruled out of being successful in politics by what is required to get into a position to do any good.

Anonymous Coward says:

# Re: Re: Re: Laughable

“The biggest argument against democracy is a five minute discussion with the average voter. – Winston Churchill”

no i have a better one, the 2 party system or in other words “white vs. black” grey would be nice, and color is laughably nowhere near politics

abc gum says:

# Re: Re: Laughable

Your argument would be valid if there were a “None of the Above” box to select.

# Stupid patent

Will the patent hold if I want to calculate the number of passenger in a Greyhound bus ?

What about patenting the average calculation and sue every primary school in the USA. At 1500\$ for a settlement, that will rack up a good sum of money.

halley (profile) says:

Even though the arithmetic may be schoolyard simple, the actual techniques may be pretty sophisticated if we assume that they’re trying to guess accurately. Given that an obese sixth-grader can weigh over twice the amount of a small first-grader, and given that we see so many kids being forgotten, misrouted, or otherwise unaccounted, it’s hard to say that an accurate method is simple, or even possible, but quite sought-after. Many parents cringe at the issues of individual tracking, but all parents go ballistic if their precious child is not exactly where the school system says they are. I’d be interested to see what this group did, to see if it’s as laughably useless as everyone’s assuming; it may be, it may not.

Richard (profile) says:

# Re: Re:

If you bother to actually read the patent you will see that none of the clever stuff you talk about is even in it.

It is laughable.

halley (profile) says:

# Re: Re: Re:

I’ve read it, and I agree it’s short of the mark of addressing the accuracy down to each head. Disappointing.

However, they are definitely trying to get a better guess at X (in the above-commented formula): the passengers get heavier in the winter, and if still talking about school, presumably over the course of a school year.

:Lobo Santo (profile) says:

# Re: Re: Re: Re:

; P

LeBazz (profile) says:

# Re: Re: Re: Re:

Well… if you got this out of your head that quickly, isn’t it sign of obviousness ???

Anonymous Coward says:

# Re:

The only thing they do to go beyond a basic average is explained. None of it is anything new, of course.

“The typical adjusted passenger weight is determined using preset information such as, but not limited to, average passenger weight, area of vehicle use, holiday of use, day of week, time of day, season of use, average weight of passenger personal items, etc. For example, individual passengers may weigh more in the winter than in the summer due to heavy coats, while holiday shoppers (with their packages) may each weigh more than passengers on a workday. Such average weights can be estimated or calculated using statistical analysis of past measurements, etc.”

Scote (profile) says:

Wow, a way to **estimate** how many kids are on the school bus. I bet that will be a great help coming back from field trips, not knowing if you have 49 or 50 kids coming back because you don’t know if you have the skinny kids or the chubby kids.

Anonymous Coward says:

The actual technique is simple regardless of whether they want to be accurate or not.

They didn’t patent a way to correctly determine the estimated weight they patented a basic math equation regardless of whether they want to be accurate or not.

Steve R. (profile) says:

# Why?

Why would IBM want to patent this? Seems that there has to be an undisclosed motive. What interest would IBM have in determining passenger numbers based on vehicle gross weight?

I had assumed that that this so-called innovative technology would already be utilized at US border crossings. Its a no brainier. Not to mention truck weighing stations too.

Also why limit to people? A “better” more abstract and ridicules patent would be “a method of assessing the validity of cargo being carried on a generic vehicle based on gross weight”.

Anon says:

# Re: Why?

That’s too specific. I want something broad so I can sue more people.

SUNWARD (profile) says:

# Re: Why?

my first thoughts.

Why spend money on this? I can’t see any revenue coming from it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Another problem with patents is how does one know that whoever has the patent is in fact the one that came up with the idea. Perhaps the person that came up with the idea never patented it and the person with the patent patented it after getting the idea from the originator.

Nastybutler77 (profile) says:

# Re: Re:

Perhaps the person that came up with the idea never patented it and the person with the patent patented it after getting the idea from the originator.

You probably think Edison invented the incandescent light bulb too, right? It doesn’t matter who invented it first; only who patented it first.

Michael (profile) says:

# They need this patent...

…because I have patented actually counting the number of students and am in the process of suing a lot of school systems for not purchasing a license to use my counting technology.

I am guessing that this was passed because the patent office lacked anyone with the appropriate expertise in the field (you know, 1st grade math) to use for the obviousness test.

I don’t know how anyone can take the patent office in this country seriously anymore.

Dan says:

# you just infringed

@anonymous coward – you just infringed the patent. either pay up or let us see in court.

oh! man, I can’t stop laughing 😀

# Who knew simple math could be patented?!

Patents for games I’m now filing:

Adding two dice to determine a number.
Adding two dice to determine a number, where one die is the tens digit.
Use of a red jar icon with subscript to be number of Health Potions.
Use of a blue jar icon with subscript to be number of Mana Potions.
Use of sliding red horizontal bar to indicate health.
Use of sliding blue horizontal bar to indicate mana reserves.

And the big one, where all your base is mine:
M the 1+1=2 patent, so that all software created must pay me a royalty. (I accept only PayPal!)

nasch (profile) says:

# Re: Who knew simple math could be patented?!

They’ll be ok still, because in a computer, 1+1=10. 😉

Anonymous Coward says:

# Re: Re: Who knew simple math could be patented?!

No, I think to a computer 1 + 1 = 11 = 3

Anonymous Coward says:

(j/k of course)

abc gum says:

# Re: Re: Re:2 Who knew simple math could be patented?!

There are 10 kinds of people …

Anonymous Coward says:

# Changing the description to fit your point of view

It’s dishonest to present this as patenting guessing how many kids are on a school bus (unless that part was in the images, which would not appear for me for some reason). It’s very clear by the reading of the patent that what they’re talking about is a system for a city bus service to be able to change routes, the number of buses, the length of routes, etc. based on the number of people on the buses. It might be useful, but I suspect just using bus fares and average time on the bus to estimate how full the buses are would work just as well and be a hell of a lot cheaper.

Coco Was Screwed says:

Umm, hello, prior art?

Tare (pronounced /ˈtɛər/), from the Middle French word tare “wastage in goods, deficiency, imperfection” (15c.), from Italian tara, from Arabic tarah, lit. “thing deducted or rejected,” from taraha “to reject”[1] weight, sometimes called unladen weight, is the weight of an empty vehicle or container. By subtracting it from the gross weight (laden weight), the weight of the goods carried (the net weight) may be determined.

Anonymous Coward says:

# Re: Re:

Yes. I use this method to weigh my cats on the WiiFit balance board.

But no one from the patent office asked me for input.

Anonymous Coward says:

# Changing the description to fit your point of view

Title:

“Utilizing gross vehicle weight to determine passenger numbers”

Abstract:

“A method, system, and computer program for determining the number of passengers riding on a vehicle in real time is presented. A total weight of passengers on the vehicle is divided by an estimated weight of each of the passengers to estimate how many passengers are on the vehicle in real time.”

Where I come from, the abstract of an article should be enough for an expert in the field to understand what is going on. If that isn’t what the patent is about, then THEY are being dishonest.

Anonymous Coward says:

# Re: Changing the description to fit your point of view

The patent isn’t that long nor is it overly complex. Nor does the abstract mention schoolchildren or school buses. That’s what I was objecting about.

nasch (profile) says:

# Re: Re: Changing the description to fit your point of view

You seem to be missing the forest for the trees. While your complaint is accurate, what difference does it make in how stupid the patent is?

NAMELESS.ONE says:

# so

using this IBM system its entire possible after a school trip to either have extra kids on your bus who might not be in your school OR missing a few

OH GEE i can see this now….

Anonymous Coward says:

I have to wonder if anybody here actually read the patent and analyzed the claims in light of the specification?

My initial reaction is that the answer is “no”.

Anonymous Coward says:

Except that people have. Now can I borrow your patent on mind-reading and arrogance?

Anonymous Coward says:

# Re: Re:

If you were responding to my comment at 45, all I can say is that the general tenor of comments here, as well as the article itself, misconstrue what the patent is intended to cover and does cover. It is not merely “How many are on a bus?”, but directed to a broader, real time system where data may be usefully employed across a transit system in to reallocate resources, etc.

This site does no favors by its deliberate distortion of what the patent covers so that it can present an attention grabbing headline.

abc gum says:

Most buses are not so large that the act of counting the passengers falls outside the realm of possibility. With this in mind I question what this method will address. Is the bus driver incapable of counting? Or maybe there is a contract which disallows the counting of passengers.

porkster says:

# Too late IBM!!!

This patent is just a rehash of the calculation for estimating the combine weight of passengers on an aircraft!

Number of passengers x average weight = additional weight add to aircraft.

Does that makes this patent a copyright issue?

I’m going to patent a new method of calculating the number of children on a bus. Count the number of legs and divide by two and subtract 1 (driver). Of course all one legged kids will have to be banned from riding school buses but that a sacrifice we all should be willing to make for the sake of accuracy.

darryl says:

# From the ""Its a patent so it MUST be "BAD"" Department.

Maybe I should get a patent, on the method of weighting my dog, by first weighing myself, then picking up my dog and waying myself (and the dog) together).

And if you can ZERO your scales when you (alone) are standing on it you dont even have to do any math.

or maybe they watched Oceans 11, and worked out that by measuring the level of suspension compression they could work out which armoured truck held the real gold !!.

But im sure if you read the actual patent, there is more to it that Mike would wish us to believe.

Why dont they just put wireless pressure sensors in the tyres, and calibrate the pressure to load ratio. !!

(also could be applied to aircraft). they use that now with formula 1, (wireless pressure sensors in tyres). and in Rally. It would not be hard to do a temperature, pressure, load calculation real time. (and pump your types up to the correct pressure for that load dynamically)..

You have a right as a citizen to fight patent claims, so if you actually do believe its a ‘bad’ patent, stop whining, tell us what exactly is wrong with it, and why.

Then explain why you are not taking appropriate action to inform the patent office of your findings ?

victor says:

# Re: From the ""Its a patent so it MUST be "BAD"" Department.

I think you mean the italian job. 🙂

Anonymous Coward says:

Oohhh so thats what IBM stands for, Idiotic Bus Measurements

says: