The US Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 11 newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today. The notables within this group includes one that relates to Apple's iPhone IM Chat feature and technology, another crediting Steve Jobs - relates to the iPod's Hierarchically Ordered GUI and finally a granted patent that points to the iPod Classic eventually gaining still and video camera capabilities in addition to full telephony capabilities using the click wheel as a retro styled rotary phone. These types of features would provide the iPod Classic with a little more punch in the market.
Granted Patent: A Click Wheel Based iPod Phone App
Apple has been granted a patent for a proposed Click Wheel based iPod phone application. If Apple in fact decides to retain the click wheel in future versions of their iPod Classic, then we might actually see this click wheel method for dialing a phone number come to market. The retro style rotary dial UI would make it very fast and easy to dial a phone number using the click wheel.
Of course, unlike the rotary dial, you'll be able to rotate in any direction suited to dial a number quickly. The unit will provide an address book module so that you could make a one click call to your contacts, so the rotary dial is only for new calls. The telephone module 138 (noted in yellow above) may also be used to receive a second call while a first call is already ongoing, without disconnecting the first call, or conduct a conference call. A menu will also display "Recent" for listing the most recent calls that have been made, answered, and/or missed. The phone app would also employ haptics to acknowledge the numbers that you're confirming while dialing.
Apple's patent also confirms that a future iPod Classic will also include an imaging module or "camera" to capture still or video images.
It should also be said that some in the Mac Community think that the iPod Classic is now toast with the arrival of the iPad. Hmm, while I wouldn't count the iPod Classic out just yet - it does make for interesting conversation and/or debate.
Apple credits Philip Mansfield and Michael Levy of Vancouver Canada as the inventors of granted patent 7,667,148, originally filed in Q4 2006.
Granted Patent: The iPod's Hierarchically Ordered GUI
Apple has been granted a patent for the iPod's hierarchically ordered graphical user interface which facilitates a user file selection procedure. In this particular embodiment, a first order (sometimes referred to as a home interface) provides a highest order of user selectable items each of which, when selected, results in an automatic transition to a lower order user interface associated with the selected item. In one of the described embodiments, the lower order interface includes other user selectable items associated with the previously selected item from the higher order user interface. In this way, a user can automatically transition from a higher order interface to a lower order interface (and vice versa) by, in some cases, a direct transition.
Apple credits CEO Steve Jobs, Jeffrey Robbin, Timothy Wasko (High River Canada), Greg Christie and Imran Chaudhri as the inventors of granted patent 7,667,124, originally filed in Q4 2006 – with applications dating back to 2002.
Granted Patent: IM Chat
Apple has been granted a patent relating to the iPhone's IM Chat. Apple's invention relates generally to a user interface for displaying an exchange of messages during an instant messaging session, and, more particularly, to a method and apparatus for displaying instant message exchanges in a manner that graphically differentiates the participants in a conversation.
Apple credits Gregory Christie, Peter Westen, Stephen Lemay and Jens Alfke as the inventors of Granted Patent 7,669,134, originally filed in Q2 2003. For more information, read this patent. Learn more about the iPhone's Messaging capabilities, here.
Other Noteworthy Granted Patents Published Today
Method and Apparatus for Increasing Data Transfer Rates through a Communication Channel
Advances in semiconductor fabrication technology presently make it possible to integrate large-scale systems, including tens of millions of transistors, into a single semiconductor chip. Integrating such large-scale systems onto a single semiconductor chip enables increases in the frequency at which such systems can operate, because signals between system components do not have to cross chip boundaries, and are not subject to lengthy chip-to-chip propagation delays.
However, as the frequency of these systems increases, the communication channels used to transfer data between system components is becoming a bottleneck. This can cause the system to waste time waiting for data to arrive. One solution to this problem is to increase the frequency at which the signal is transmitted on the communication channel to allow more data to be sent through the communication channel per unit time. Unfortunately, the frequency of a signal cannot be increased indefinitely. In a typical lossy communication channel, as the signal frequency increases, the amplitude of the signal decreases. This makes the signal more vulnerable to noise. Differential signaling can be used to somewhat increase the bandwidth of lossy communication channels, but improvements gained through this technique are limited.
Apple's patent provides a method and an apparatus for increasing the data transfer rate through a communication channel without the problems described above. For more information, read patent 7,668,244.
Granted Patent: Method and Apparatus for Variable Accuracy Inter-Picture Timing Specification for Digital Video Encoding
The MPEG-4 encoding system is rapidly being adapted by the latest computer based digital video encoders and associated digital video players. The MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 standards compress a series of video frames or video fields and then encode the compressed frames or fields into a digital bitstream. When encoding a video frame or field with the MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 systems, the video frame or field is divided into a rectangular grid of macroblocks. Each macroblock is independently compressed and encoded.
When compressing a video frame or field, the MPEG-4 standard may compress the frame or field into one of three types of compressed frames or fields: Intra-frames (I-frames), Unidirectional Predicted frames (P-frames), or Bi-Directional Predicted frames (B-frames). Intra-frames completely independently encode an independent video frame with no reference to other video frames. P-frames define a video frame with reference to a single previously displayed video frame. B-frames define a video frame with reference to both a video frame displayed before the current frame and a video frame to be displayed after the current frame. Due to their efficient usage of redundant video information, P-frames and B-frames generally provide the best compression.
Apple's patent presents a method and apparatus for variable accuracy inter-picture timing specification for digital video encoding. Specifically, the present invention discloses a system that allows the relative timing of nearby video pictures to be encoded in a very efficient manner. In one embodiment, the display time difference between a current video picture and a nearby video picture is determined. The display time difference is then encoded into a digital representation of the video picture. In a preferred embodiment, the nearby video picture is the most recently transmitted stored picture. For more information, read patent 7,668,240.
Notice: Patently Apple presents only a brief summary of patents with associated graphic(s) for journalistic news purposes as each such patent application and/or Granted Patent is revealed by the U.S. Patent & Trade Office. Readers are cautioned that the full text of any patent application and/or Issued Patent should be read in its entirety for further details. For additional information on any granted patent noted above that doesn't present you with a direct link, simply feed the individual patent number(s) into this search engine.