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INESC TEC sells technology patent to the international market for the first time

C4MiR – Control Module for Multiple Mixed-signal Resources Management is the name of the Portuguese technology developed by INESC TEC in partnership with the University of Porto (U.Porto), whose patent family has just been sold internationally. C4MiR will have a strong impact on the electronics industry, since it allows testing and calibrating sensors part of wearable devices, thus improving their lifetime while reducing time production and the costs of electronic chips.

14th December 2021

The process of selling the C4MiR technology patent family started in 2014 and has now been completed with the acquisition made by Allied Security Trust, a world technology association established in the U.S.A., which represents some of the largest tech companies in the world - Google, Meta, Microsoft, Spotify, Phillips or Sony.

“This is the first time that INESC TEC has sold a patent to a foreign entity. The sale of patents is rare in terms of technology transfer, which usually happens via spin-offs, licensing of use or research within the scope of contracts signed with companies. According to the latest report by the Association of European Science and Technology Transfer Professionals (ASTP), the majority of European technology transfer offices (64%) reported the total absence of sales during 2020", explained Daniel Marques Vasconcelos, head of INESC TEC’s Technology Licensing Office.

According to him, this commercial agreement confirms the importance and benefits of intellectual property rights - in this case, patents - to an entity and to society. “The reputational gains to their creators and owners, their fundraising value, and the promotion of commercial agreements and partnerships are all benefits associated with intellectual property rights. Moreover, the economic value is vital to increase the social impact of the effort and investment in Research and Development (R&D)”, he added.

 

C4MiR promises to revolutionise the wearables market

Wearable devices - watches, bands, or even virtual reality glasses - include many sensors that accurately measure data such as speed and distance, heart rate, calories burned or sleep quality. However, these electronic components tend to wear out due to their aging and the efforts they are subjected to during their use, which leads to calibration deviations and damage that compromises their reliability and functionality.

The Portuguese C4MiR technology allows the self-diagnosis of sensor failures in wearable devices, e.g., poor electrode-to-skin contact or the deterioration of circuits, thus increasing their reliability and facilitating the calibration and maintenance of this type of products in different environments - namely in cases where there are no professionals to check and repair any issues.

"The C4MiR is ready to be incorporated into the development of new products and services, promoting changes in the technology market, with a direct impact on people's lives, who will have access to smarter, cheaper and more reliable devices", explained Miguel Velhote Correia, researcher at INESC TEC, co-creator of technology and professor at the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Porto (FEUP).

Additionally, given the easy access to the different modules or elements of a heterogeneous integrated system right from the production moment, the C4MiR technology can also be used during the final stages of the manufacturing process of integrated electronic circuits. According to José Machado da Silva, also a researcher at INESC TEC, professor at FEUP and co-creator of the technology, “the easy access and the early detection of manufacturing errors during the final stages of circuit production contribute significantly to reduce the time and costs of test operations”.

Concerning the process of intellectual property protection and economic valorisation, the technology was supported by the Scientific and Technological Research Support System (SAICT) - Protection of Industrial Property Rights of the P2020 in terms of internationalisation.