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
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:
This time it’s a touchscreen patent, commonly called “the Steve Jobs patent,” that courts previously deemed valid in cases against Samsung and Motorola in the past:
This week, the USPTO issued a first Office action rejecting all 20 claims of U.S. Patent No. 7,479,949 on a “touch screen device, method, and graphical user interface for determining commands by applying heuristics”, which has been referred to by many people, including Apple’s own lawyers, as “the Steve Jobs patent”.
The touchscreen heuristics ’949 patent has also been asserted against Motorola. Judge Posner declared large parts of the patent invalid and identified only some minor potential infringement on Motorola’s part that he decided would not warrant injunctive relief even if Apple prevailed on whatever little was left of its related claims. Read more
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple today that covers various methods of detecting a user’s presence and augmenting the user experience accordingly. Apple has covered face recognition and presence detection systems in various patent applications in the past, notably for multi-user logins, security features, and an Android-like face unlock feature. Today’s patent application covers even more implementations of Apple’s presence detection technology that would utilize ultrasonic sensors, microwave radar, and camera and audio systems to detect and identify the user. PatentlyApple covered the highlights of the patent including the ability to activate or augment features using presence detection:
In some embodiments, the device may also be configured to track the user movements (e.g., position and velocity) and, in response to certain movements, provide feedback and/or enter or change a state of operation. For example, movement toward the device may activate more features, such as providing more options/menus in a user interface, whereas movement away from the device may reduce the number of features available to a user, such as reducing the number of menus/options and/or reducing or increasing the size of the options displayed.
PatentlyApple also described another interesting possible implementation that would allow for intelligent zooming based on the movement of the user: Read more
A number of Apple patents and applications have been published today, one of which details an interesting new design for the packaging of iOS devices that would also double as a stand or dock of sorts. The patent application was originally filed in May 2011, but it was published today by the United States Patent and Trademark Office and detailed by PatentlyApple. The image above is pretty self-explanatory, showing iPod nano-like packaging with a removable lid and base that transform into a dock or stand for the device. It appears the dock would act as a permanent solution, with the image above showing room to accommodate a charging cable as well as small parts to hold the device snugly in place.
This is actually something we’ve seen before. Although many iPhone and iPad users have no problem dropping a decent amount of money on a dock, there are no shortage of users who have come up with innovative ways to turn the current iPhone and iPad packaging into a dock and or stand for free. Below is a video, courtesy of GottaBeMobile, showing an iPad mini box being transformed into a free docking station with very little effort: Read more
9to5Mac reported last month that prototypes of the next iPhone contained Near Field Communications hardware. The tech could obviously be used with the PassBook app to create some wallet-type functionality, but that is just the tip of the iceberg.
The US Patent & Trademark Office published more patent applications today from Apple that indicated the company envisioned much more NFC capabilities than a Wallet app. The company apparently filed the applications between 2009 and 2010, and the graphics depict an iPhone interacting and controlling everything from a television and DVR to a standalone camera and a projector.
Our report mainly focuses on the new system as it relates to an iDevice controlling and interacting with a possible standalone television in addition to an expanded version of Apple’s current Apple TV styled device. The updated Apple TV could one day control cable or satellite television programming and video game play via a video game controller. This would really be a boost for Apple if users were able to play high end RPG video styled games with a standard styled controller. Further, Apple’s invention runs deep and they envision NFC ready iDevices being able to control standalone cameras, projectors, in-home security systems, lawn sprinkler systems, your thermostat, garage door and more. One of these fine days, future iDevices will finally support NFC; and when they do – watch out, because Apple will open the floodgates and release a new generation of applications noted in this report and others like their forthcoming iWallet. Will Apple’s next generation iPhone 5 finally be the one that will introduce NFC? Only time will tell.