Patent Stories May 12

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A recent patent filed by Apple and discovered by PatentlyApple hints at ways in which Apple is planning to make its HomeKit platform smarter. The patent, published today by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, is for an “automated environment” in which HomeKit would be able to track the routines of users and implement automated behaviors based on those habits.

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Patent Stories April 20

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Apple has agreed to pay $24.9M to settle a long-running lawsuit alleging that Siri violated a patent owned by a New York institute and exclusively licensed to a company in Dallas. The patent predates the launch of Siri by four years.

The Albany Business Review notes that Apple was sued not by the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, which holds the patent, but by Dallas-based Dynamic Advances, which licensed it. The company reportedly receives $5M now, and the balance after meeting unspecified conditions. In return, Apple gets a license to use the patented technology for three years.

The settlement means that the patent trial, due to take place in New York next month, will no longer proceed. However, that may not be the end of it …

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Patent Stories April 1

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A patent application spotted by Patently Apple suggests that the Apple Watch turning on its display as you raise your wrist could be just the first of many supported gestures. Pointing, waving and even extending pinky and thumb in a ‘phone me’ gesture could all be used to initiate actions on either the Watch itself or a paired iPhone.

While voice and touch input can be an effective way to control a device, there may be situations where the user’s ability to speak the verbal command or perform the touch gesture may be limited.

This [patent] relates to a device that detects a user’s motion and gesture input through the movement of one or more of the user’s hand, arm, wrist, and fingers, for example, to provide commands to the device or to other devices […] The device can interpret the gesture as an input command, and the device can perform an operation.

Apple gives a number of illustrative examples of such gestures …

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9to5toys 

Patent Stories March 31

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Yesterday we detailed an Apple patent showing work on a stackable Smart Connector plug of sorts. Today we get a look at a similar invention aimed at making the I/O on future devices more versatile with Apple’s invention of a “Universal Magnetic Adapter” that could allow for more future-proof devices using only a single port. As pictured in the drawing accompanying the patent above, the technology allows for a single port that uses magnetic inserts as adapters for your various devices. Or in other words, MagSafe for everything using a single port and adapters for the various connectors.

In its patent, Apple describes the problem with the current mess of adapters and cables users have to deal:

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Patent Stories March 30

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The endless patent battles between Apple and Samsung took an interesting turn this week when Apple claimed that the most recent court ruling violated the Seventh Amendment of the U.S. Constitution: the right to trial by jury.

Back in 2014, Apple was awarded $119.6M when Samsung was found to have violated three of the five patents in dispute. That award was overturned last month when an appeals court ruled that Samsung didn’t infringe one of the three patents, and declared the other two invalid.

The problem, explains Reuters, is that the appellate court didn’t just refer to the trial court record in reaching its conclusions, it also considered new evidence …

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Patent Stories March 15

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Update: Some are suggesting that the patent could simply be for tiny shifts that would allow the iPhone camera to fill in missing detail that falls between pixels, though it’s unclear how this would differ from a technique already in use by Hasselblad. Thanks to James for the Hasselblad link.

iPhones have long allowed you to create panoramic images by taking multiple photos which the camera stitches together. But an Apple patent granted today could allow future iPhones to take panoramic photos effectively with a single shot. Apple describes this as ‘super resolution mode.’

The reality would be that the iPhone would still take multiple photos to switch together, but the process would be automated so the user experience would be taking just one shot …

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