On March 18, 2010, the US Patent & Trademark Office published 17 patent applications from Apple Inc. The notables within this group include one that we covered earlier this morning titled "iGroups: Apple's New iPhone Social App in Development," in addition to another relating to an "up-to-date commute time" application for Apple's iPhone. This wild and crazy app will help you with your commute to work on time by notifying you of traffic problems and new routes to consider while automatically rescheduling your meetings that are in your iPhone calendar and even reset the clock on your coffee maker. Sorry it doesn't make breakfast. Other patents today include a look at Apple's iWork Pages template feature that even applies to their upcoming iPad. And lastly, there are two more patents that build on a January patent about new features that may be coming to Apple's Magic Mouse in the future.
Commute Time Patent Background
In metropolitan areas, traffic congestion remains a major problem. The Texas Transportation Institute reports that, in 2005, the annual delay experienced by a traveler during peak times in the Los Angeles area is 72 hours and 46% of the delay is caused by incidents including car accidents and construction. As a result, the increased fuel consumption due to travel in congested conditions rather than in free-flow conditions is 57 gallons per peak traveler in 2005.
A main contributing factor of traffic congestion is that the traveler is not properly informed of the traffic conditions prior to embarking on his daily commute. Drivers primarily rely on radio and television reports for information on traffic conditions. The main shortcomings of these traditional sources of information include (i) the delayed reporting of traffic congestion due to accidents and disabled vehicles and (ii) the reporting of traffic conditions on routes which are irrelevant to the driver.
Today, commuters may also turn to the Internet to obtain up-to-date traffic information and estimated commute time. Numerous websites on the Internet (e.g., www.SigAlert.com) allow the user to view the current traffic conditions on the freeways including the speed of travel and the location and time of accidents. Other websites (e.g., Google Maps) provide the user with an estimated commute time for a selected route.
One method of operating the new commute time function of the iPhone will start by you keying in your starting position(s) and destination(s). You'll then be prompted for an event including a time entry and a day entry which is associated with your stored commute information. The commute time function is automatically activated based on the event, at or before occurrence of the event, and the commute time function is then performed by a) determining an up-to-date commute time based on the commute information, and, optionally, b) displaying or speaking, before occurrence of the event, the up-to-date commute time together with said commute information, on the device.
The point in time at which the commute time function is automatically activated may be set manually, by the user. For example, where the event is a wake-from-sleep alarm associated with a commute to the office, and the commute to the office has been in the range of one hour +/- fifteen minutes, the user may wish to set activation time of the commute time function to be fifteen minutes before such an event. If the variation in commute time is longer, then the commute time function activation time may be set to be proportionally earlier. In one embodiment, the determination of the commute time may involve sending the commute information to a website or an internet accessible service that computes the up-to-date commute time based on current or up-to-date traffic conditions for the commute information. The up-to-date commute time may then be received from the website or internet accessible service.
In some embodiments, other applications on the mobile device may be affected by the up-to-date commute time. For instance, if the commute time is longer than an expected time, which may be manually set by the user or automatically computed based on a history of stored instances of the commute time, adjustments may be made to the applications to reflect that the user has a shorter amount of time to prepare for departure on her commute or that her commute is longer. For example, a previously set alarm wake-up time may be adjusted to an earlier time, a louder music selection may be played at the alarm wake-up time, or a greater number of newsfeeds may be downloaded to the mobile device (to be experienced by the user during her longer commute). In one embodiment, the selected music playlist or the number of downloaded newsfeeds may be timed to correspond to the commute time, e.g. the total length (in terms of time) of the playlist or the downloaded newsfeeds may be proportional to the commute time.
In one embodiment, based on the commute time, the activation time of a third-party device such as a coffee machine, an alarm, and electronic calendar may be adjusted. For example, if a longer commute time is reported such that the user needs to wake up at an earlier time to compensate for the increase in travel time; the coffee machine may be activated to start brewing at an earlier time as well.
In one embodiment, a user interface of the device may present, via visual and/or spoken output, the current commute time prior to a calendar event associated with the commute, in order to ensure that the user is not late to the location of the event.
In another embodiment, a calendar event previously set by the user and identifying contacts with whom the user is to meet may be rescheduled based on the commute time by sending an update to the contacts to indicate or request a change to the calendar event. The calendar event may include a time, date, and location of a meeting. In one embodiment, a "one-click" icon which allows the user to obtain a current commute time may also be displayed on the user interface.
The above summary does not include an exhaustive list of all aspects of the present invention. It is contemplated that the invention includes all systems and methods that can be practiced from all suitable combinations of the various aspects summarized above.
Apple credits Cyril Labidi and Michael Lee as the inventors of patent application 20100069054, originally filed in Q3 2008.
Patent: Pages '09 Templates
This patent is all about Apple's Pages '09 template features. It relates to the use of Pages on a computer such as an iMac or MacBook but also interestingly points to devices like the iPhone, iPod touch and now we know that applies to their upcoming iPad.
The patent specifically states under patent point 34, that "In one or more embodiments of the invention, pointing device 128 may be a mouse, a touch pad, a finger or a stylus on a touch-sensitive display…" Unfortunately, the specifics of any unique iPad feature is absent from this patent, if in fact there is any difference beyond accommodating touch. Time will tell on that one.
The templates may be associated with and used to create posters, flyers, reports, brochures, presentations, resumes, and/or other page-oriented documents. As a result, the templates may be provided by and selected within applications such as word processors, spreadsheets, presentation programs, and/or other components of an office suite.
For more information on Pages' templates see the video on this page.
Apple credits Canadian engineers Aaron Shane Lees and Stella Du as the inventors of patent application 20100070916, originally filed in Q3 2008.
Other Noteworthy Patent Applications Published Today
Patent - Using Measurement of Lateral Force for a Tracking Input Device: Apple's abstract states that systems and methods for using measurements of a lateral force applied to a motion-based input device are disclosed. The input device has a force detection module operable to detect lateral forces applied to the input device and generate force data representative of the applied lateral forces. The system also includes a processor coupled to the force detection module. The processor is operable to initiate an event based upon the force data. Patent: 20100066669
Patent - Force Sensing for Fine Tracking Control of Mouse Cursor: Apple's abstract states that systems and methods for controlling a navigational object (e.g., a cursor) using an input device are disclosed. A system in accordance with one embodiment includes a motion-based input device adapted to move relative to a surface. The input device has one or more force sensors capable of detecting forces acting upon the input device. The system may then move a navigational object displayed on a receiving device in relatively small increments or relatively large increments, depending upon the detected forces acting upon the input device. Patent: 20100066670
Both the force and lateral sensing patents noted above relate to Apple's major patent on a new mouse design that was uncovered in our January 2010 report titled "Apple Could Advance Gaming & Paint in Magic Mouse Upgrade."
Continuation Patent - Multimedia Data Transfer for a Personal Communication Device: Apple's continuation patent 20100068991 was granted to Apple in June 2009 under patent 7,546,083. There's no exclusivity to this patent by anyone making such a claim today.
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 grant is revealed by the U.S. Patent & Trade Office. Readers are cautioned that the full text of any patent application and/or grant should be read in its entirety for further details. For additional information on any patent reviewed here today, simply feed the individual patent number(s) noted in this report into this search engine.