Faculty member receives patent for invention

Emily Harris/The News
Robert Pilgrim received a patent for the camera he invented that can see through fog.Emily Harris/The News Robert Pilgrim received a patent for the camera he invented that can see through fog.

Story by Cody Hall, Contributing writer

Emily Harris/The News Robert Pilgrim received a patent for the camera he invented that can see through fog.

Emily Harris/The News
Robert Pilgrim received a patent for the camera he invented that can see through fog.

Robert “Bob” Pilgrim, computer science professor for 26 years, has received a patent for a camera he made that allows the user to see through fog.

One morning while walking his dog, Pilgrim had a camera and a visible block filter he had been working on for another research project.  When he used the filter as a lens, he noticed that he could see to the far side of the field he was in.

It took Pilgrim five years and $3,000 to receive the patent for his camera.

He had the help of Chris Tanner, who worked for the patent office, to achieve this.  The camera is currently working and Pilgrim is improving the design before trying to market it.

Once the camera is finished, Pilgrim will try to find a suitable market for the technology.

“Rather than thinking how to solve a problem, you notice something and think how I can exploit this,” Pilgrim said.

Pilgrim wanted to use his invention as a teaching opportunity for his computer science students.

“The purpose of this patent was to show my students how the patent process worked,” he said.

Pilgrim said that 85 percent of people who submit a patent are rejected, and many of them have great ideas, but the patent office will “never accept an application the first time through.”

Pilgrim has several ideas for what he wanted to use this camera for, many directly improving the safety of the user.

It could be integrated into cars to give a live feed of what is going on in front of the car, allowing the driver to see through the fog without being distracted with a monitor on the side.

Mary Coleman, member of Four Rivers K-9 search, rescue and recovery team, said Pilgrim’s invention would be useful for ATV and horseback searchers.

“There are times when we are searching in the morning when it is foggy out, and the people on the ATVs cannot navigate through the wooded areas very well,” Coleman said.

“With this camera we could be much more effective,” she said.

The camera could benefit other teams who respond to emergency situations by increasing their safety when there is heavy fog.

“A device like that would be great for when you are coming up to an accident in the mornings,” Sgt. Brant Shutt, Murray police officer, said.

“It is an interesting idea that could have many different implications,” he said.

Another use of the camera is to be used as a scope for a rifle.

It has the potential to increase safety when hunting, allowing the hunter to see more than just the deer on the opposite end of the scope.

Pilgrim intends to market the product once all technology improvements are complete.