Apple invents laser projected keyboard & depth perception system, reveals ad-hoc cash dispensing network

Apple-laser-projected-keyboard

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office published a couple of interesting patent applications from Apple today. One patent described various embodiments of a depth perception system and laser projection, while another concerned an “ad-hoc cash dispensing network” that would turn iPhone users into walking ATMs.

PatentlyApple first covered the patent and highlighted several possibilities of using cameras and a laser source to determine the distance of an object and implement various applications based on detection of depth. The report explained an embodiment of the invention by describing how Apple could use the system integrated into, for example, an iMac. PatentlyApple also described how Apple could use the invention for laser projected keyboard applications (as pictured above):

In this example, the iMac is able to detect a user approaching it and activate a particular program, application, awake from sleep or power save mode, and the like… In patent FIG. 12, we see a user positioned in front of this future iMac such that the first and second beams 206a, 206b may at least partially intersect the user. The iMac’s updated iSight Camera will be able to determine the distance that the user is from iMac. The depth perception system increases the sensitivity of user detection for the iMac so that it could make a distinction between the user and an occupied chair… In Apple’s patent FIG. 11A shown below, we see the depth perception system incorporated into a mobile electronic device such as an iPad. In this example, the system may be used in combination with a projected control panel 115 (such as a keyboard, audio/video controls, and so on). The control panel 115 may be a light pattern projected from a light source onto a surface (e.g., table or desk), the control panel 115 may include different light shapes, colors, or the like for representing different inputs.

Unwiredview.com pointed us to the “ad-hoc cash dispensing network” patent published today and recently filed by Apple that would essentially allow iOS users to become ATMs for other iPhone users. Just imagine being able to withdraw cash when there simply isn’t an ATM or bank nearby. Apple’s system would allow other close by iPhone users to lend you cash, with the borrowed money returned to the lender through your iTunes account/credit card for a small fee (as pictured in the patent drawing below):
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Apple shows off a 3D Avatar building app as part of a patent application

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Patently Apple did what it does and dug up a patent related to building 3D avatars:

Earlier today we introduced Apple’s 3D Avatar App which covered a basic overview of the new application in the works. Now a second patent application has surfaced and it actually shows that the app is already running on an iPad! We have the screenshot to prove it. The new patent application focuses on how the app will work with color palettes and more. The big news however is that the new 3D Avatar App is in its final stages of development and that’s very cool. Evidently phase-one of the application is geared for the younger crowd, but other editions could be in the works as discussed in our first report today.

This could be for GameCenter or a number of other areas where you would want to create an online personality.

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Apple has been denied the multi-touch trademark by Patent Office

As noted by MacRumors, Apple has been denied the tradmark for multi-touch, which they applied for on January 9, 2007 after the first iPhone was introduced. Once the decision was reached by the the Board, Apple then filed for an appeal which was then again shot-down. Excerpt from the decision that is embedded after the break:

Again, simply because the applied-for term has been used in association with a highly successful product does not mean the term has acquired distinctiveness. Decision: The examining attorney’s finding that the Section 2(f) showing is insufficient is affirmed.

Apple was denied the trademark simply because it is too broad, and lacks distinctiveness to Apple alone.  As a reference, NYU’s Jeff Han has multiple mentions of Multi-Touch as a generic term in papers from 2005 and before.  Here’s his multi-touch video demonstration more than a year before Apple filed for ‘Multi-Touch’ or released the iPhone.

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