The US Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 16 newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today which included two design patents. The notables within this group include one for Apple's MacBook trackpad, another for their Universal Docking Station, another for Cover flow and perhaps the most important of them all, a crucial patent covering Apple's innovative media player module-controller: the brains controlling applications such as iPhoto and iTunes on devices such as the iPod touch and iPhone.
Granted Patent: Multi-Media Center for Computing Systems
Digital media can be packaged with media-player(s) and/or other application programs. For example, Apple iPod media-player available from Apple Inc. combines a digital audio player and a portable hard drive for storing the media. iTunes or iPhoto, which are also available from Apple Computers, Inc, can be packaged with media-players and applications or tools that can be used for organization, searching and retrieval of media (e.g., organizing photo, obtaining lists of music or films from a database, and downloading music or films). Packaging digital media with media-players, tools, or other applications is a relatively recent development. Nevertheless, given the popularity of digital media, numerous forms of media and media-players have been developed and are in use today.
Apple's patent FIG. 1 depicts a computing environment capable of providing a multi-media-center in accordance with one embodiment of the invention. It will be appreciated that the multi-media-center can combine a plurality of media-components each including digital data and/or application(s) that can access digital data. The digital data associated with a media-component can be presented in one or more forms (e.g., display pictures, play music while displaying pictures, play a movie or a song). These media-components can be readily available and/or generally known (e.g., music player (e.g., iTunes), photo viewer (e.g., iPhoto), DVD player) or they can be developed for the multi-media-center. In general, each media-component includes digital data which can be presented in one or more forms and/or one or more application(s) (e.g., media-player) that can be used to manipulate digital data (e.g., present, organize, and retrieve).
Apple's Abstract: Various "media-components" are provided in a "multi-media center." In modular architecture, a module-controller communicates with media-modules provided for various media-components. A media-module can include or obtain data pertaining to a particular media-component, identify media-player(s), and access information related to their media. However, the media-modules are isolated from each other, and the module-controller effectively controls output generated in response to user input. A user interface library is provided for the media-modules. Media-modules can obtain a template or other tools from the library and construct their user interface (e.g., menus). Media-modules can also identify a media-player that can be initiated in response to user input. Subsequently, the media-controller forwards user input to the media-player.
Granted Patent: Raw Data Track Pad Device and System
Apple's Abstract: An input device and system are described that acquires (measures) raw track pad sensor data and transmits this data to a host computer where it is analyzed by an application executing on one or more host computer central processing units. The resulting input processing architecture provides a track pad input device that is both lower in cost to manufacture and more flexible than prior art track pad input devices. Lower costs may be realized by eliminating the prior art's dedicated track pad hardware for processing sensor data (e.g., a processor and associated firmware memory). Increased flexibility may be realized by providing feature set functionality via software that executes on the host computer. In this architecture, track pad functionality may be modified, updated and enhanced through software upgrade procedures.
Apple credits Benjamin Lyon, Stephanie Cinereski, Chad Bronstein and Steve Hotelling as the inventors of Granted Patent 7,719,522 , originally filed in Q3 2004.
Granted Patent: Universal Docking Station for Hand Held Electronic Devices
Apple's invention relates to a docking station with an opening that accommodates hand held electronic devices with different sizes and shapes. Apple's patent FIG. 20 shows one example of a docking station that is capable of receiving the back end of the hand held electronic device. This implementation has never come to market and likely never will. However, the concept behind figure 20 also extends to a universal docking station being integrated right into other hardware such as the top of a Mac Pro Tower, for example, or some other Apple hardware in the future.
Apple credits Richard Howarth, Phillip Hobson and Wim Crooijmans as the inventors of Granted Patent 7,719,830, originally filed in Q2 2005.
Granted Patent: Integrated Access Cover for MacBooks
Apple's Abstract: Integrated access cover arrangements for use in a portable computing devices, where the portable computing devices include a processor and are configured to house a user accessible component are presented including: a base configured to be coupled to the portable computing device; an integrated access cover housing a keyboard, the integrated access cover being slidingly connected with the base and configured to be disposed in at least a closed position and an open position with respect to the base, the user accessible component being hidden from a user when the integrated access cover is disposed in the closed position, the user accessible component being accessible by the user when the integrated access cover is disposed in the open position. In some embodiments, arrangements further include: a drive mechanism for translating the integrated access cover. Advantages include the ability to utilize lower profile configurations while maintaining functionality.
Apple credits Ray Chang and Dennis Yarak as the inventors of Granted Patent 7,719,826, originally filed in Q3 2005.
Industrial Design Win Patent: Animated graphical UI (Cover flow) on an iPhone
Other Noteworthy Granted Patents Published Today
7,720,354: Embedded access information for digital versatile disc (DVD) independent of DVD player software.
7,720,673: Method for dynamic context scope selection in hybrid N-GRAM+LSA language modeling.
7,719,548: Viewing digital images using a floating controller
7,721,066: Efficient encoding for detecting load dependency on store with misalignment.
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