PatentlyApple Stories November 15, 2012

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: expand full story

PatentlyApple Stories November 8, 2012

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: expand full story

PatentlyApple Stories June 26, 2012

Another batch of newly granted Apple patents were published today by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and then detailed by Patently Apple. Perhaps the most notable is one for an inductive charging solution that we have heard about in the past. Apple patents surfaced last year showing new methods of inductive charging that could be used in various Apple devices. There were even rumors last year that a next-gen iPhone could sport a similar cable-free charging solution. Patently Apple described the docking station invention covered in today’s patent that would include an “eradiating antenna and an inductive charging circuit for inductively charging a handheld device”:

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PatentlyApple Stories June 15, 2012

According to an Apple patent application published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and detailed by PatentlyApple, Apple is at the very least conceptualizing a device that sports a removable back panel for easily replaceable components such as lenses or optical solutions.

While it is unclear whether the invention would be used in a standalone camera, next-generation iPod or iPhone, or a different device entirely, the patent detailed several methods of upgrading a device with supplementary optics:

The digital imaging subsystem is typically enclosed within the case of the device to protect the digital imaging subsystem. The enclosure generally prevents direct access to the lens of the digital imaging subsystem for the purpose of providing any sort of supplementary optics, especially if the supplementary optics must be precisely aligned with the image sensor… It would be desirable to provide a structure for a compact device that allows the end user to reconfigure the optical arrangement of the device while retaining the benefits of assembling the device using a pre-assembled digital imaging subsystem.

Apple detailed several features that could be added through the easily swappable supplementary optics, including: improved zoom capabilities, better shutter control, removable close-up lenses, and the addition of motion sensors, flashes, or a lens baffle. As an example, the report explained a removable IR cut-off filter that would allow “capturing black and white images at very low light levels. Without the IR-cut filter the camera’s light sensitivity may extend to 0.001 lux or lower.” The report also broke down how the removable back panels could be implemented:

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PatentlyApple Stories May 15, 2012

Apple patent details steering wheel remote control

PatentlyApple covered a number of Apple patents today that were recently published by the US Patent & Trademark Office. One of the 21 patents originally filed in Q1 2011 is for an iOS remote control that would clip onto a steering wheel. The remote shown in the patent drawings essentially looks like the iPod click wheel, but Apple described it as a touch-sensitive, rotatable faceplate:

Apple’s invention generally relates to remote controls. More specifically, certain embodiments of the present invention provide a steering wheel mountable wireless remote control for controlling a portable media player… The remote control device can also include a faceplate that is rotatably mounted on top of the base section that very much resembles Apple’s iPod clickwheel… The notable difference is that Apple states that the faceplate is touch-sensitive.

You can get full coverage on the patent at PatentlyApple

PatentlyApple Stories May 3, 2012

Yes, Apple is still working on haptics for touch devices

We already know Apple is working on haptic technologies for mobile devices from patents in the past (here, here, and here). We also know that last-minute rumors of Finnish company Senseg’s technology being included in the third-generation iPad never came true. Another patent surfaced today giving us a look at Apple’s work with an advanced multi-tiered haptics system for iOS devices. PatentlyApple has all the details:

…today’s surprise invention packs a punch with a wildly intelligent multi-tiered haptics system. The system will actually allow an iDevice display to deform so that it could provide the user with a button, an arrow or even a geological map to physically pop right out of the screen to give it 3D depth. If that wasn’t cool enough, Apple’s patent discusses a flexible OLED display that could be used for video glasses.

PatentlyApple Stories April 5, 2012

According to an Apple patent application published by the United States Patent & Trademark Office and detailed by PatentlyApple, Apple is working to implement audio transducers in combination with multiple speakers to enable surround sound configurations on MacBook-like devices. Apple’s focus of the patent appears to be improving audio in mobile devices as speakers decrease in size to accommodate smaller and thinner form factors.

As detailed in the image to the right, one embodiment of the invention shows the use of several speakers and an audio transducer integrated into the bezel and enclosure of a MacBook. These configurations would allow, for example, the speakers embedded next to the display to handle high range frequencies, while the lower speakers would handle mid-range and the audio transducer the low-range. Additional speaker enclosures could be added to enable 3.1 or 4.1 surround sound configurations. Apple also stated the audio transducer could provide both low and mid-range frequencies, “essentially performing as a “subtweeter” for frequency ranges from 20-500 Hz and 500-1500 Hz. The report explained:

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PatentlyApple Stories March 29, 2012

This is not the first time an Apple patent has surfaced relating to three-dimensional camera technologies. A previous patent highlighted advanced 3D object recognition and verification. A new patent—published today by the United States Patent & Trademark Office and detailed by PatentlyApple—shows Apple is continuing to work on 3D camera technologies that could land in future iOS devices. Apple’s patent described a 3D imagining camera that uses advanced microlenses, depth-detection, chrominance, and luminance sensors. The camera could recognize facial expressions and gestures while creating 3D models of scanned objects. PatentlyApple explained:

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PatentlyApple Stories March 22, 2012

This is not the first time we have received hints that Apple is working on an innovative universal remote control for controlling TV and video content. In January, we told you that Apple was researching a touchscreen remote with adaptable user interfaces. The invention would essentially allow button layouts stored in the cloud or in a device (such as a TV) to be wirelessly and seamlessly beamed to the controller’s UI. The concept would alleviate the “table full of remotes” scenario Steve Jobs described at D8.

Today, a new patent application published by the United States Patent & Trademark Office and detailed by PatentlyApple gives us even more insight into what Apple’s universal remote concept could become. In the newly discovered patent application, Apple details a remote that is capable of displaying customized controls for various devices by simply taking a picture of the device. Apple would send the picture to iCloud, analyze it, and beam a UI or button layout to the remote that works for your TV. PatentlyApple explained:

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PatentlyApple Stories November 22, 2011

PatentlyApple point us to a few recently obtained Apple patents published by the US Patent and Trademark Office. Perhaps the most interesting of all is a patent covering 3D object recognition technology that could potentially be implemented in future iPads. While unsophisticated facial recognition tech is already present in consumer mobile devices, Apple’s patent details a method of automated biometric identification to identify or verify an object or face based on a 3D representation compiled by analyzing the curves, points, contours, etc., of a 2D projection. In other words, a three-dimensional “statistical shape model” could be pulled from a 2D image, allowing more accurate detection and verification of 3D objects, such as a face or objects from “airport security X-ray images”, for example. The report explains:

The recovered 3D shape is the most probable shape consistent with the 2D projections, i.e. the images. The statistical model needs a bank of data, denoted training data, where the 3D positions of the image features are known, in order to learn the parameters of the model. Such data sampling could be done using e.g. binocular or multi-view stereo or range scanners. Once the model parameters are learned, the 3D shape can be computed using one or several images. The 3D shape is then used, by means of the presented invention together with the 2D image data, to identify or verify the object as a particular instance of the object class, e.g. the face belonging to a certain individual. A positive (or negative) identification initiate proper action by means of the presented innovation.

It’s unclear when exactly Apple obtained the patent, which lists Professor Kahl Fredrik as the main inventor and dates back to 2005. However, PatentlyApple points out Jan Eric Solem, who owned Polar Rose before they were acquired by Apple in 2010, is also listed as an inventor. Polar Rose technology is currently being used in facial recognition and detection features in the iOS 5 Camera app. The report speculates the next-gen PowerVR GPU from Imagination Technologies will play a role in providing Apple with the juice necessary for advanced 3D rendering, despite the company not yet being confirmed as a licensee: expand full story

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