Apple mood-based advertising patent is another hint of company’s new obsession with body sensors

Image: techbeat.com

Image: techbeat.com

An intriguing patent application by Apple to deliver mood-based advertising contains what could be read as a strong hint that the rumored iWatch will, as we’ve speculated in the past, major on sensor technology.

In addition to describing ways of assessing mood by such clues as likes in social media, type of applications used and music playing, the patent also lists physical characteristics that could be used:

Mood-associated physical characteristics can include heart rate; blood pressure; adrenaline level; perspiration rate; body temperature; vocal expression, e.g. voice level, voice pattern, voice stress, etc.; movement characteristics; facial expression; etc …  Read more

Apple explores customizable layers for future Apple Maps app – new patent application

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We’re pretty selective in the Apple patent applications we cover here, simply because Apple patents all kinds of things for all kinds of reasons, and for every one of them that makes it into an Apple product, there are hundreds of others that never will. But this is one we think might.

The core concept is nothing new: layered maps. The existing Apple Maps app already allows us to choose between standard mapping, satellite view or both, and Google Maps on the web allows us to switch on or off layers like traffic, weather, public transit lines and so on. But what the Apple patent application describes would, if you’ll excuse the pun, take this idea to a whole new level …  Read more

Apple invents a flexible material to create truly seamless enclosures for MacBooks & other products

The US Patent & Trademark Office today published a new Apple patent application (via PatentlyApple) that details a flexible material that could be used as a hinge to create a seamless enclosure for devices like the MacBook, for example. Apple details a technical process of using specialized machinery to laser cut “flex apertures” and interlocking features in a rigid material to allow it to bend and function as a hinge. On top of creating a seamless enclosure, Apple claims the process would allow it to reduce the size of devices that are often increased due to traditional hinge solutions. Imagine if the enclosure of a MacBook didn’t include that black plastic hinge and instead appeared to be a seamless piece of aluminium connecting the display to the bottom half of the unibody.

While MacBooks might seem like the obvious application for Apple’s invention, it also notes the usual list of devices that could potentially use the technology including everything from smartphones to televisions and game consoles. The patent also shows the material being used on headphone cables to allow a flexible connection from the cable to the earbud to prevent damage, and on what appears to be an iPad Smart Cover-like accessory: Read more

Apple patents unlikely SmartCover wireless charging system

However unlikely—the United States Patent and Trademark office today published an Apple patent application that details a system of inductively charging an iPad through the Smart Cover. The idea is that rather than plugging in the iPad, the Smart Cover would include an inductive power transmitter that would allow it to pair with an inductive power transceiver embedded into the iPad. The result is the Smart Cover would become a wireless charging station, connecting to an external power source, and allowing you to power your iPad in various positions. Apple also explained that it could use “ambient power gathering devices, such as solar cells, can be used to gather ambient power (such as sunlight) to be stored internally in the flap for later inductive transfer.”

A method for wireless powering a tablet device, comprising: determining if a protective cover is in a closed configuration with respect to the tablet device; enabling a wireless power receiver circuit in the tablet device when it is determined that the protective cover is in the closed configuration with respect to the tablet device; and wirelessly receiving power from a wireless power transmitter associated with the protective cover.

Apple described the advanced Smart Cover as including multiple power transmitters to allow the iPad to charge even when using the case, for example, as a stand to prop up the device. Alternatively, the cover could continue charging the device when in the closed position or when an iPad is placed on top: Read more

Is Apple’s iWatch a slap wrist band with a flexible display?

Apple-wristwatch-patent.

iWatch-Concept-slap-bracelet

Concept via Yanko Design

Color us a little skeptical on this one, but the U.S. Patent Office released Patent US 20130044215 filed by Apple (via Patently Apple) on Thursday that basically described a wristwatch-like device. According to the patent application, Apple is looking into methods that integrate flexible components into a bi-stable spring, slap on bracelet design. Apple even highlighted a number of use cases for the accessory that would talk to other electronic devices, i.e., iOS devices, such as viewing recent calls, responding to text messages, managing playlists, and viewing maps:

The bracelet goes far beyond being a wristwatch. Apple states that with a multitouch display, the user “can accomplish a number of different tasks including adjusting the order of a current playlist, or reviewing a list of recent phone calls. A response to a current text message can even be managed given a simple virtual keyboard configuration across the face of the flexible display.”… According to Apple, a larger display is also more desirable for map viewing. The arm mounted location makes map viewing a desirable function for such a device, as a traveler or explorer can easily reference the information with a flick of the wrist while exploring.

The patent application also described a number of methods of powering the wristwatch accessory including the use of a solar panel underneath the display that 9to5Mac discussed before. It also covered the possibility of using kinetic power sources similar to systems already used in wristwatches.

Apple states that the Kinetic energy gathering device noted above in patent figure 5A (# 502) has its advantages. Having the accessory device on an extremity is an ideal location for gathering kinetic energy. The simple motion of a user’s arm or leg allows the accessory device to harness some of that energy for charging battery. The Antenna in patent figure 5A (# 506) is for establishing and maintaining the connection between the bracelet accessory and a portable electronic device such an iPhone. The antenna can be configured to pass data over WiFi, Bluetooth or any other suitable wireless protocol.

Other possible features of the device mentioned in the application include using the device as a nighttime light for bike riding, edge lighting to configure a colored backlit border, and the ability to quickly view maps and high quality video streams. Apple also described an end-detection sensor to deactivate unused portions of the display for individuals with smaller wrists.

Another interesting aspect of the patent application is a method of using built-in accelerometers and gyroscopes as orientation sensors to make sure content is always visible and facing the user as the device—and user’s arm—is in motion.

With all the rumors that Apple is working on a smart watch, it’s hard to ignore a patent application that covers the form factor in such detail. However, it’s important to note many concepts make their way to Apple patents but never see the light of day, and this could very well just be one possible form factor that Apple has experimented with. You can learn more about today’s patent at PatentlyApple. Another image from today’s patent application below:

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Here’s all of the public information on Apple’s watchmaking activity

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Since the old iWatch rumor reared its head again in December, there have been a few more reliable sources adding weight to the idea that we could see a smart watch from Apple this year. Over the weekend, The New York Times, which said essentially the same thing in 2011, followed up the rumors with a report that Apple is working on a curved glass watch prototype running iOS. The Wall Street Journal quickly followed with more information, claiming Apple and partner Foxconn are now testing wearable, watch-like devices.

While many have speculated what Apple might include in an iWatch, such as Apple employee #66 and founder of Apple’s Human Interface Group Bruce Tognazzini, all we get from reports is “curved glass” and “iOS”. Apple has clearly been testing wearable prototypes with several patents dating as far back as 2009, describing potential integration with wristwatches and iOS devices. By taking a look at the technology for watches that Apple is already experimenting with through the many publicly available patents, we put together a list of some of the features the company could very well include in an Apple-branded smart watch. Read more