Just prior to Apple's debut of the iPad in January, they were granted a major patent for a Proximity Detector for Tablets. Today, history appears to want to repeat itself by granting Apple major patents just five days prior to the official iPad launch. This patent is a whopper being that it covers accelerometers specifically in tune with multiple applications relating to games, maps, 3D Surround Sound speakers and more. Apple's second major win is for utilizing multiple broadband antennas for the iPhone and iPad 3G. Someone in Cupertino is smiling this morning – that's for sure.
Major Granted Patent: Operating Apple's iPad with an Accelerometer
Accelerometers are devices widely used for applications as diverse as vibration monitoring, appliance control, joysticks, industrial process control, space launches, satellite control, and many others. For example, an accelerometer has been used in a vehicle as sensor to detect a variety of operating conditions while the vehicle is moving.
As computers have been getting more popular, an accelerometer has been used in a computer to sense a sudden move, such as a free fall, of a computer. A typical application of an accelerometer in a computer is to protect a read/write head of a hard drive. However, there has been a lack of applications that an accelerometer is used in conjunction with software executable within a computer. Apple's patent remedies this
Apple's patent FIGS. 5A shown below is a diagram illustrating exemplary movements of a portable device that may be used to trigger displaying a page of document, according to certain embodiments of the invention. Patent FIGS. 3A and 3B are diagrams illustrating documents in an exemplary application that an accelerometer may be utilized.
Apple's iPad Accelerometer for Games
Apple's patent FIGS. 9A, 9B, 10A and 10B are diagrams illustrating an exemplary gaming application based on an accelerometer.
The iPad's Accelerometer for Maps and Wireless Antennas
Apple's patent FIGS. 7A and 7B shown below are diagrams illustrating an exemplary navigation application relating to maps. The map normally can't be displayed entirely as a whole within a display of the portable device 700 with a certain detail level. For example, when a user "zooms in" on a map, only a portion of the map could be displayed within the display. As the user navigates throughout a first portion of the map, the user may wish to gradually navigate into a second portion of the map from the first portion.
According to one embodiment, a user holding the portable device may move it in a direction that the user wishes to navigate, for example, in accordance with direction 703 (e.g., northeast direction as an example). In response to the movement, an accelerometer attached to the portable device may detect such a movement. The accelerometer may provide movement data (e.g., X, Y, and Z, axis information) to a controller and/or firmware of the portable device. The associated controller and/or firmware may calculate a moving direction and/or moving distance based on the movement data provided by the accelerometer, using one or more predetermined formulas
Apple's patent FIGS. 12A and 12B are diagrams illustrating an exemplary mechanism for activating/deactivating interfaces of a portable device based on an accelerometer. Interfaces 1204 and 1207 are wireless interfaces, such as, for example, antennas or wireless transceivers.
Accelerometer In-Tune with 3D Surround Sound Speakers
Apple's patent FIGS. 14A and 14B shown below are diagrams illustrating an exemplary mechanism for activating/deactivating multimedia interfaces of a tablet using an accelerometer. In this embodiment, as an example, one or more speakers are used as multimedia interfaces of the portable devices.
Referring to FIG. 14A, a tablet includes multiple speakers 1405-1408 disposed on different locations. In the orientation 1401 prior to a movement, an audio driver may be configured to generate proper 3D surround sound considering speakers 1405-1406 on the left and speakers 1407-1408 on the right. When the portable device is moved, for example, according to the moving direction 1404 for 90 degrees, a second orientation 1402 is detected and determined by an accelerometer and its associated controller and/or firmware as shown in FIG. 14B.
In this example, originally left speakers 1405 and 1406 are at the bottom while originally right speakers 1407 and 1408 are on the top as shown in FIG. 14B. Thus, the existing audio conditions have changed and the sound effects are not longer in the best state. As a result, the audio driver may be reconfigured to produce an audio quality relatively equivalent to the one prior to the movement of the portable device. For example, speakers 1405 and 1407 may be used as speakers on the left while speakers 1406 and 1408 may be used as speakers on the right, in order to produce proper sound effects.
Apple credits Paul Wehrenberg, Aaron Leiba, Richard Williams, David Falkenburg, Louis Gerbarg and Ray Chang as the inventors of Granted Patent 7,688,306, Q4 2004.
Granted Patent: The iPhone/iPad Broadband Antenna with Coupled Feed
As technology advances, it's becoming possible to combine multiple functions into a single device and to expand the number of communications bands a single device can handle. For example, it is possible to incorporate a short-range wireless capability into a cellular telephone. It is also possible to design cellular telephones that cover multiple cellular telephone bands.
The desire to cover a wide range of radio frequencies presents challenges to antenna designers. It is typically difficult to design antennas that cover a wide range of communications bands while exhibiting superior radio-frequency performance. This is particularly true when designing antennas for handheld electronic devices where antenna size and shape can be particularly important.
As a result of these challenges, conventional handheld devices that need to cover a large number of communications bands tend to use multiple antennas, antennas that are undesirably large, antennas that have awkward shapes, or antennas that exhibit poor efficiency.
Apple's granted patent covers Apple's iPhone solutions that overcome traditional problems present above.
Various Broadband Antenna Related Patent Figures
In Apple's patent FIG. 4, antenna 62 may include ground element 66 and resonating element 68. Signals may be conveyed between electrical using a coaxial cable or other suitable radio-frequency (RF) signal path. Resonating element 68 of FIG. 4 could have two arms 70 and 72 of unequal length and a self-resonant antenna element 74. Arms 70 and 72 can form an "F" shape and may sometimes be referred to collectively as an F-shaped resonating element or an F-shaped antenna element.
Apple's patent FIG. 26 is a cross-sectional side view of an illustrative handheld electronic device having an illustrative three-dimensional broadband antenna with a coupled feed in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. To avoid radio-frequency interference, some or all of components may be surrounded with radio-frequency shielding.
The broadband antenna defined in this patent covers a first frequency range that includes an 850 MHz communications band and a 900 MHz communications band and a second frequency range that includes a 1800 MHz communications band, a 1900 MHz communications band, a 2170 MHz communications band, and a 2400 MHz communications band.
Apple credits Robert Hill as the sole inventor granted patent 7,688,267, originally filed in Q4 2006.
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.