There's no missing the point that Apple wants to enter the electronic concert and event ticket business via a new application and system simply called "Concert Ticket +." The system that is laid out in this extraordinarily detailed patent, points to a new iTunes based web service for tickets that will naturally enhance the iTunes music empire. Apple definitely envisions a way to revolutionize the entire current concert ticket process so as to eliminate paper while enhancing the concert or event experience. Today's patent reviews the basics of this new system as well as review the benefits of such a system which could include the concert goer receiving such things as a live recording of the concert they just attended or access to exclusive artist interviews or refreshments. Surprisingly, the patent goes far beyond concerts as well - so as to cover sporting events, amusement park admissions and rides (think Disney), a wedding invitation system and a lot more. In fact, one of the events that the report covers includes Apple's World Wide Developer Conference 2010.
Broad Patent Overview
Event tickets may provide entry to events as well as other benefits. A person using an event ticket may also have one or more electronic devices. However, event tickets may be lost or misplaced, may not easily be transferred between distant individuals, and may provide a limited range of benefits. Moreover, those benefits associated with event tickets may not provide additional functionality to a user of one or more electronic devices.
Many people use a personal electronic device each day, as portable phones and digital media players are becoming commonplace. When attending various ticketed events, people may bring a personal electronic device. Using the techniques, systems, and devices described in this patent, we see that a user in the future will be able to obtain, store, or use a ticket in a device like an iPhone to gain entry to an event, as well as to gain a number of additional benefits.
Device 10: System Architecture
Apple's patent FIG. 1, is an overview of "electronic device 10" which may be configured for obtaining, storing, or using electronic tickets to gain entry to events and for associated benefits. As discussed below with reference to FIGS. 2-7, the electronic device 10 may represent, among other things, a handheld device, a computer, or a media player adapted to obtain, store, or use electronic tickets using techniques described in greater detail below; a manned or unmanned kiosk to sell or distribute electronic tickets to another electronic device 10; or a ticket turnstile to provide entry to an event upon receipt of an electronic ticket from another electronic device 10.
For the sake of correctness, it should be noted that "electronic device 10" noted and referred to in this patent may actually represent an Apple iPhone, one of several iPods, an iMac, a MacBook, an Apple TV, an NFC enabled concert or event turnstile or kiosk of one sort of another. Yet for practical reasons, the iPhone is the personal device shown in most patent illustrations.
The Electronic Ticket Management System
In some embodiments, a ticket management application icon 44 may be selectable by a user. Here, the ticket management application is designated as "Concert Ticket +" to indicate to a user that selection of the icon 44 will allow the user to store and use tickets for concerts and more.
Once an iPhone is docked to a desktop, like an iMac as shown below, the devices could synchronize and/or transfer certain data, such as an electronic ticket. In some embodiments, the devices may include NFC interface (34) which permits wireless communication at a very short range. The NFC interface may enable the iPhone to engage in near field communication (NFC) with RFID tags or other NFC enabled electronic devices 10, such as the iMac, kiosk and/or turnstile.
It should be noted that the iPhone having a camera on its backside in concert with this application 44, may in fact employ optical character recognition (OCR) software, barcode-reading software or Matrix reading software. It should also be appreciated that the iPhone may include the location sensing circuitry (22) or the accelerometers (38). Certain applications running on the iPhone may obtain information relating to the position, orientation, or movement of the handheld device from the location sensing circuitry or the accelerometers. The position, orientation, or movement information may enable applications to display personalized data or to display data in an innovative manner in response to user movement.
NFC Enabled Kiosks: Turning to Apple's patent FIG. 5 below we're able to see an NFC enabled kiosk (#74) that may represent an embodiment of the electronic device 10 of FIG. 1 noted above. It may be configured to enable a user of another electronic device 10, such as an iPhone in this case, to obtain or redeem an electronic ticket or a benefit associated with an electronic ticket. For example, as described further below, a user may purchase or otherwise obtain an electronic ticket to an event from the kiosk; the user may use an electronic ticket at the kiosk to gain entry to an event; or the user may use a benefit associated with an electronic ticket, such as an electronic coupon for merchandise, at the kiosk. Additionally, the kiosk may be used to credit the account of the holder of an electronic ticket or a paper ticket with certain media content, as described further below.
Apple's patent FIG. 6 illustrates an alternative NFC enabled unmanned kiosk (#88) which may be used to credit the account of the holder of an electronic ticket or a paper ticket with certain media content, as described further below.
E-Ticket Turnstile: Apple's patent FIG. 7 is that of a e-ticket enabled turnstile that may represent an embodiment of the electronic device 10 which may be configured to allow entry to certain events when an iPhone user uses their stored e-ticket. An NFC label may indicate the location of the NFC interface to users passing through the ticket turnstile. Another manner of obtaining an e-ticket may involve an alternative ticket reader involving a barcode or matrix code reader.
The iTunes Concert Ticket
Apple's patent FIGS. 9A and 9B below illustrate an embodiment of the NFC-enabled concert ticket (#106) employing radio frequency identification (RFID), which may wirelessly transfer certain information to an NFC-enabled iPhone. FIG. 9A depicts a front side of the NFC-enabled ticket. As illustrated by FIG. 9A, the NFC enabled ticket may be constructed of any material, such as paper or plastic, capable of holding an RFID tag (122). The RFID tag may passively or actively transfer certain data when the NFC interface of an iPhone is placed nearby (e.g., within 2-4 cm or about 1 to 1.5 inches).
Stored on the RFID tag may be information to identify the ticket to an iPhone having the NFC interface. Such information may include, for example, a serial number representing a pointer to data located in an external database, or a data file, such as an XML file, describing the event to which the NFC-enabled ticket pertains. The data file stored on the RFID tag may include fields describing the category of event, artist name, tour title, venue, seating information pertaining to an iTunes account associated with the user. The face of the ticket may additionally indicate, for example, an artist name (124), a tour title (126), or seating information (128).
Apple's patent FIG. 9B illustrates a back side of the NFC-enabled ticket and may include additional text related to the event. For example, the text may include a purchaser name (130), serial number (132), and additional information (134), which may include various customer service numbers, time and date information, and/or account information. It should be appreciated that the serial number may be a series of characters corresponding to the serial number that may be present on the RFID tag, but may alternatively represent a different number. The NFC-enabled ticket depicted in FIGS. 9A and 9B may be stored on an iPhone.
Obtaining an Electronic Ticket: Workflow
Apple's patent FIGS. 12A to 12F illustrate a manner of obtaining an electronic ticket on an iPhone.
Techniques: Using the Ticket to Gain Entry into an Event
Apple's patent FIGS. 46A, 46B and 53 below provide you with a rudimentary overview of using the electronic ticket to gain entry to an event. This report covers only a limited number of these figures.
Selecting Content or Viewing Seat Selection
Apple's patent FIG. 8A shown below illustrates an iPhone obtaining and storing electronic tickets. The electronic tickets may be any data identified as electronic tickets and may include, for example, encrypted or unencrypted XML files which may be associated with a particular device or user account. An iPhone may obtain electronic tickets from an NFC enabled ticket (#106), by scanning a paper ticket (#108), by receiving an electronic ticket via e-mail (#110) or via the Internet, or by purchasing an electronic ticket from the kiosk or unmanned kiosks presented earlier.
In Apple's patent FIG. 8B we're able to see a variety of benefits that may be associated with the electronic tickets stored on the iPhone. After receiving electronic tickets using one of the manners depicted in FIG. 8A, additional benefits may be obtained by communicating information associated with the electronic tickets to a web service.
To provide a brief example illustrating the electronic ticketing system of FIGS. 8A-B below, a user may purchase an NFC-enabled ticket (#106) for a concert. The user may tap the NFC-enabled ticket to an iPhone running a ticket management application which may cause the iPhone to receive ticket information from the NFC-enabled ticket. The iPhone may next authenticate the ticket with a web service such as iTunes. Thereafter, the user may use their iPhone to gain entry to the concert through the ticket turnstile noted below (#94) - and obtain additional benefits as outlined below.
E-tickets may provide additional benefits, such as digital content which may include a live recording of the event, exclusive interviews with artists associated with the event, or studio recordings by artists associated with the event. The electronic tickets may offer other benefits, such as discounts on merchandise related to the event, discounts or prepaid refreshments for the event, discounts or prepaid merchandise like a T-Shirt for the event, and other related content, such as a digital map (#120) to the event or of the venue including your seating positioning relative to the stage.
Live Recording: In respect to the Live Recording, the holder of the e-ticket may be given the right to purchase a coupon or voucher for a digital live recording of the concert. The live recording may represent a complimentary benefit or a benefit which may be prepaid or purchased via the iPhone. Credit for the live recording may be deposited to an account associated with the user for an online music vendor, such as iTunes. Alternatively, the live recording may be purchased and transferred to the user's account without the use of an iPhone.
Exclusive Content: Another benefit could be enabling a user to obtain exclusive content such as a special music singles or discounts on studio albums. The special singles may represent, for example, certain recordings of songs by the concert artist, which may enable the user to become more familiar with the artist's music. By offering discounts on studio albums, the electronic concert ticket may increase the likelihood that the user will purchase studio albums by the concert artist in anticipation of the upcoming concert.
Refreshments, Attire: Other benefits associated with the e-ticket may relate to items for sale at the concert event. Such benefits may include, for example, prepaid, discounted or free refreshments when ordering food or prepaid or discounted attire like T-Shirts. Alternatively, prepaid items may be redeemed by obtaining the ticket data associated with the electronic concert ticket. A cashier or kiosk at the concert event may use the ticket data to access a list of prepaid items associated with the user's account.
Song Lyrics: Another benefit of th e-ticket could include a concert schedule or a music-set list and/or song lyrics sent to your iPhone either in the form of a data file or a hyperlink in a file or webpage that may provide you with up-to-date information regarding which song may be currently playing. Hmm, that's a good one. In theory why would they do that? Well, If I like the tune that's currently playing and the list is live, then – bam, one click and that tune is mine without having to think about it after the concert. Impulse buying is what marketer's dream of – and this is a classic.
Prepaid or Discounted Parking: Prepaid or discounted parking may be associated with the electronic concert ticket 948 may be purchased and used in the same manner as the prepaid or discount refreshments 960 or the prepaid or discount attire 962.
Beyond Rock Concert Tickets
While Apple's number one reason for devising the proposed "Concert Ticket +" program is to advance their iPhone-iTunes musical empire, Apple's patent doesn't stop with just concerts for the young. Apple envisions using the "+" in their "Concert Ticket +" icon to carry some value for other areas of the market, including tickets to the Symphony, to an Opera, to a Broadway Play, tickets for Amusement Park entry and rides (hmm, Disney perhaps…), tickets to the Museum, a Baseball Game, a Conference like Apple's WWDC or even a Wedding Invitation Ticket system.
Each of the other proposed "Concert Ticket +" programs carry very unique benefits which may share some similarities with a music concert but could also add some very interesting twists.
Wedding Invitation Ticket System
One of the additional ticket systems pertains to a wedding invitation system where the benefits could include assistance to wedding party members such as "links or maps to tuxedo rental or dress shops that the recipient of the electronic wedding invitation or program" or receiving "a map to a rehearsal dinner or a calendar reminder for the wedding rehearsal, or a special gift of digital content may be provided only to bridesmaids or groomsmen." A wedding may involve a number of different locations for the church, reception, a family member's home, overnight accommodation, a restaurant etc and having these maps sent to your guest's smartphone/iPhones would be of benefit.
The electronic wedding invitation or program may include an option to view or purchase wedding video or wedding photos, to obtain an audio recording of the toast, or to obtain the playlist of music at the reception. The list goes on and on.
Sporting Ticket System
Once again, over and above some of the benefits outlined above like parking discounts and refreshments, the sporting even may include receiving special player e-cards showing the bio and stats of players, team rosters, gaming schedules and so forth. E-ticket holders may receive discounts on sporting memorabilia and more.
Conference Ticket System: WWDC 2010
Once again, over and above some of the benefits which have been listed earlier (such as parking discounts and refreshments) there are some unique benefits for conference attendees using the e-ticket system.
Various sessions that may take place during the conference event may be recorded. A live recording may be obtained from a kiosk, or unmanned kiosk located at the conference – or it may be emailed to you via your iTunes account.
The electronic conference ticket may further include electronic business cards of panelists that may speak at the conference event. The electronic business cards may be obtained in the form of a downloadable document or a link from a website. Similarly, submitted panelist papers may also be associated as a benefit with the electronic conference ticket. The papers may similarly be obtained in the form of downloadable documents or links from one or more websites.
Certain events taking place at the conference may require prepayment, for such cases as for certain lunch or dinner panels or speeches. As such, discount or prepaid lunch or dinner may be associated with the electronic ticket on your iPhone. Special maps of the event would be of special interest for e-ticket holders.
Interestingly Apple's patent figures relating to a conference ticket involves their very own 2010 World Wide Developer Conference. This could mean that Apple has chosen specific guests to test out their e-ticket system taking place this June. That goes to illustrate that Apple is really gearing up for an NFC iPhone ticket system revolution in the coming years.
Other Ticket Markets Detailed in this Patent
If you happen to be in a specific business related to any of the sectors below or are just curious to explore one of the other ticket system benefits in detail, you could go directly to the patent with the number provided for you below. The following list outlines where you'll find specific event details listed in the patent:
E-Tickets for Broadway Musicals, Plays, Operas or the Symphony: These markets are covered under patent points #353 through to #356. E-Tickets for School Events: This topic is covered in patent points #371 through to #378. E-Tickets for Movies: This topic is covered under patent points #379 through to #384. E-Tickets for Cruises: This topic is covered under patent points #385 through to #390. E-Tickets for Museums (Guided Tours): This topic is covered under patent points #430 through to #464. E-Tickets for Amusement Parts: This topic is covered under patent points #464 through to 478.
Other Information of Interest in this Patent
An alternative Technique for Obtaining an Electronic Ticket from a Paper Ticket: This topic is covered in patent points 184 through to 202 (or FIGS. 16 through 21). Obtaining an E-Ticket via Email: This topic is covered under patent points #203 and #204. Obtaining an Electronic Ticket from a Kiosk: This topic is covered in patent points #205 through to #263 (or FIGS. 24 through to 36) covering both manned and unmanned kiosks. Obtaining an E-ticket from Another E-Device 10 (iPhone/iPod touch) which may have stored the E-ticket: This topic is covered under patent points #264 through to #271. Techniques for Accessing and Displaying Electronic Tickets and Benefits Associated with the Electronic Tickets: This topic is covered in patent points #273 through to #283. Techniques for Transferring an E-Ticket to another E-Device 10: This topic is covered under patent points #284 through to 289. Techniques for using a Stored E-Ticket to gain entry to an event: This topic is covered in patent points #290 through to #306. Benefits that may be Associated with Events such as Concerts: This topic is covered under patent points #307 through to #352. .
Apple credits Michael Rosenblatt and Andrew Hodge as the inventors of patent application 20100082491, originally filed in Q3 2008. This marks the third major NFC related patent this month and Apple's fifth since November 2009. See our Tech: NFC section to review our other reports.
Notice: Patently Apple presents only a brief summary of patents with associated graphic(s) for journalistic news purposes as each such patent application is revealed by the U.S. Patent & Trade Office. Readers are cautioned that the full text of any patent application 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. About Comments: Patently Apple reserves the right to post, dismiss or edit comments.
April 17, 2010 Update: Perspective
Apple is the number one online music store on the planet. Yet in perspective, they don't produce albums and they use a back-end service like Gracenote to make it all happen. The same could be true for future e-tickets. Apple could very well end up working with various back-end services. This patent is likely the first of many to follow on this matter.
April 18, 2010 Update: Ticket Authentication Process
By special request, we've added two ticket authentication process workflow graphics covering patent figures 15A-D, 16A-C, 17 and 20 as shown below.
Patent information covering these figures could be found in the patent under Patent Points 180 to187 and 190 to 197.
Major Update August 2010: Apple Hires NFC Expert
Update Feb. 2011: Image from Apple's "iPad is Iconic" TV Ad