The US Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of four newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today. The notables within this group include one relating to Apple's MacBook display housing, another for Final Cut Pro's speed effects in relation to video presentations, another relating to wireless transactions made on an iPhone and/or iPod and finally the surprise of the day perhaps. What first appeared as a seemingly simple iPod nano patent, quickly turned into a wild revelation. Apple, as far back as 2006, intended to eventually evolve their iPod nano into that of a nano-phone. Don't take my word for it, read what the patent actually reveals. This isn't the first time that this subject matter has popped up in a patent and begs the question: is a Nano-Phone still a relevant concept?
Granted Patent: iPod Nano …. Phone?
Apple has been granted a patent relating to an older version of their iPod nano. The invention relates, in one embodiment, to a portable computing device capable of wireless communications. The portable computing device includes an enclosure that surrounds and protects the internal operational components of the portable computing device. The enclosure includes a structural wall formed from a ceramic material that permits wireless communications therethrough. The wireless communications may for example correspond to RF communications, and further the ceramic material may be radio-transparent thereby allowing RF communications therethrough.
Apple's patent FIG. 3A illustrates an assembled iPod nano and 3B illustrates it in its unassembled form demonstrating the iPod nano assembly complexities.
The Patent's Bombshell Revelation
To clarify, what kind of "wireless communications" is this patent talking about here? Well, the patent specifically states the following: "the device includes processors, transmitters, receivers, and antennas for supporting RF, and more particularly GSM, DCS and/or PCS wireless communications in the range of about 850 to about 1900 MHz."
That was the last thing that I expected to read about in this simple iPod nano patent, but there it is in black and white. This isn't the only patent that Apple has on record regarding a nano phone. Last July Patently Apple covered a more detailed patent on a stunning nano-phone as is illustrated in the graphic above.
Apple credits Stephen Zadesky and Stephen Lynch as the inventors of today's Granted Patent 7,724,532, originally filed in Q3 2006 or about a year before the first iPhone actually launched.
Granted Patent: Wireless Communication System used in Commercial Transaction
The background of the patent states that using a cell phone or other such device to remotely enter into a commercial transaction (such as food or drink ordering) is widespread and well understood. However, in order to initiate such a remote transaction using a cell phone, a user must be aware that a merchant of interest is nearby, must be aware of a list of available items for purchase by the merchant, must be aware of a price for each item, etc. Even in those cases where all the relevant knowledge is available and known, the user must then pay for the services or goods purchases. In some cases, the user must use a credit or debit card by repeating very sensitive information in a voice loud enough to be heard and understood over the phone, or enter the information manually if speaking is not an option. In some cases, if the merchant does not accept the particular payment method, the customer must pay using cash thereby eliminating most, if not all, of the perceived efficiencies of remotely ordering using the cell phone, PDA, media player, etc.
Apple's patent and solution involves a processing system that includes a wireless communication interface that wirelessly communicates with one or more wireless client devices in the vicinity of an establishment. The wireless communication interface receives a remote order corresponding to an item selected by at least one of the wireless client devices. A local server computer located in proximity to the establishment generates instructions for processing the remote order received from the wireless communication interface. The local server computer then passes the processing instructions to an order processing queue in preparation for processing of the remote order.
Granted Patent: Application of Speed Effects to a Video Presentation
In recent years, there has been a proliferation of video editing applications. These applications allow a user to create video presentations by combining one or more video and audio tracks, and applying one or more video and/or audio effects to these tracks. Speed effects are one type of effects that are commonly employed by video editing applications. Speed effects allow a user to specify different speeds for playing different sections of the presentation. For instance, by using speed effects, an editor can divide a video presentation into three parts, where the first part plays at twice its created rate (e.g., at 60 frames per second (fps) for a content rate of 30 fps), the second part plays at half its created rate (e.g., at 15 fps for a content rate of 30 fps), and the third part plays at 3 times its content rate (e.g., at 90 fps for a content rate of 30 fps).
Applying speed effects with prior video editing applications is often difficult and time consuming. Specifically, prior video editing applications do not apply speed effects to presentations in real-time. For instance, each time a user (also referred to below as an editor) specifies a new set of speed effects, some prior editing applications render a new media file with the speed effect. This rendering is quite time consuming. Also, if the editor is not happy with the rendered results, the editor would have to re-specify the speed effects, and re-render the media file once again. In addition, while the user is specifying new speed effects, this editing application does not provide adequate feedback regarding the frames on which the speed effects are being defined.
Therefore, there is a need for a method that can apply speed effects to a presentation and display the results of this application in real-time. Ideally, this method could apply the speed effects and display the results without having to render the presentation. Furthermore, ideally, this method would use an intuitive interface that allows the editor to easily specify speed effects and to discern the result of these effects.
Apple's patent relates to a Final Cut Pro feature which is now a part of Final Cut Studio. In this patent, Apple provides a solution to the problems noted above and presents a method of specifying speed effects for playing a video clip. The method defines a set of speed effects for the video clip. It then displays in real-time a presentation of the video clip that accounts for the set of speed effects defined for the video clip. In some embodiments, this method represents the playback speed of a video clip in terms of a graph that is part of a graphical user interface ("GUI"). This graph is defined along two axes, with one axis representing the playback time, and the other axis representing the content-time (i.e., the time within the video clip). In these embodiments, a user could change the playback speed of the video clip by using a set of GUI operations to select and modify the graph. For instance, a user could select and adjust the graph at different instances in time in order to change the playback speed of the video clip at these instances. Different embodiments use different types of graphs to represent playback speed. For instance, some embodiments use a deformable line bar that is superimposed on a rectangle that represents the video clip.
Apple credits Gary Johnson as the sole inventor of Granted Patent 7,725,828, originally filed in Q4 2003.
Granted Patent: MacBook Display Housing
Apple's patent background states that all computing devices, including portable computers and desktop computers, have housings that enclose the components and circuitry of the computing devices. Various design difficulties are presented as these housing get more compact. These design difficulties are particularly acute for portable computers where a lot of components are required to fit in small areas. The difficulties are increased when the housings include complex shapes and decorative features. Thus, there is a need for improved housings for computing devices and Apple's patent addresses these issues.
Apple lays out six distinct solutions and/or aspects relating to their invention as follows: A first aspect of Apple's invention pertains to a computer housing having a logo or other symbol that could be illuminated using light from the backside of a display panel. A second aspect of the invention pertains to a suspended frame that is able to support a display panel within the display's housing. A third aspect of the invention pertains to a computing device provided with an internal antenna. A fourth aspect of the invention pertains to a stiffener for a computer housing so as to increase the rigidity and strength of the computer housing. A fifth aspect of the invention pertains to illumination of design elements or features using light from the backside of a display panel. A sixth aspect of the invention pertains to a lid for a computing device, such as a portable computer, that is provided with a translucent housing.
Apple credits Lawrence Lam, Jory Bell, Chris Stringer and Roy Riccomini as the inventors of Granted Patent 7,724,509, originally filed in Q3 2008 – though the history of this patent dates all the way back to May 1999.
Another Noteworthy Patent to Mention
In case you missed our report yesterday due to the long weekend, be sure to check out this latest e-wallet report titled "Exploring Apple's New e-Wallet Patent on ATM Transactions." Here's our summary:
In the first two chapters of this series describing Apple's forthcoming e-wallet functionality, we covered such matters as Apple's iPhone transaction system, the overview of various transactions, the NFC-iPhone tap operation, credit cards, smart/debit cards, check handling and split-billing. In the third part of our series we present you with an overview of Apple's financial patent which focuses on a future iPhone interacting with Automatic Teller Machines or ATMs. Our report walks you through the basics of Apple's Transaction Application interface while exploring some of the more interesting security features it will be offering, such as advanced gestural and voice signature capabilities and a very unique ever-changing numeric pad interface for PINs. There's no doubt that the e-Wallet revolution is on the horizon and with every Apple patent that we are privileged to explore on this subject, we are actually peering through the peep hole of Apple's engineering lab and seeing but a glimpse of the grandeur of Apple's vision of the e-wallet of tomorrow.
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 is not directly linked, simply feed the individual patent number(s) provided into this search engine. About Comments: Patently Apple reserves the right to post, dismiss or edit comments.
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