The US Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 23 newly granted patents for Apple Inc. yesterday. The notables within that group included one relating to design wins for the iMac and the iPhone's Unlock feature as well as patents for Apple's Final Cut Pro Audio and the MacBook's magnetic latch. Yet the major wins of the day went to Apple's Multi-Touch/Multi-Event touch screen patent and their Media Player's Audio-centric UI that has only surfaced in-part. The advanced audio UI described in the patent goes far beyond the simplistic usage of audio commands that are being implemented in Apple's current iPod Shuffle and iPhone via Voice Control. Let's hope that Apple could get their advanced audio-centric user interface technology to market this year so that they could further challenge Google's latest Android features relating to voice commands.
Granted Patent: Audio Centric iPhone User Interface & Database
Apple has won a major audio-centric user interface patent that could be used with a future Apple media player including any iPod, the iPad and/or iPhone. Apple currently uses Voice Control in their iPhone and simple audio commands for their iPod Shuffle. Yet the latest granted patent appears to have audio commands that are far more sophisticated than what is being implemented today.
Apple states that their patent covers an audio user interface that generates audio prompts that help a user interact with a user interface of a computing device. The audio prompts could provide audio indicators that allow a user to focus their visual attention upon other tasks such as driving an automobile, exercising, or crossing a street, yet still enable the user to interact with the user interface. As examples, the audio prompts provided could audiblize the spoken version of a user interface selection, such as a selected function or a selected (e.g., highlighted) menu item of a display menu.
The Patent's Main Legal Claim: A hand-held electronic device comprising: a media database that stores media content; a display device that is capable of visually displaying a user interface that enables a user to interact with the hand-held electronic device, the user interface presenting at least one menu, the at least one menu having a plurality of menu items; a user input device capable of receiving a user input pertaining to a selection of at least one of the menu items in the at least one menu; a memory, wherein the memory stores media files, each media file having an audio tag containing a pointer to an associated audio cue; a user interface control module that, in response to the user input pertaining to a selection of the at least one menu item in the at least one menu receives a manually entered text string corresponding to the at least one menu item, wherein the manually entered text string does not replace a text string currently stored on the hand-held electronic device, and causes the manually entered text string to be passed to a host computer, wherein the host computer converts the manually entered text string to a corresponding audio cue and passes the corresponding audio cue back to the hand-held electronic device.
Apple credits Devang Naik as the sole inventor of granted patent 7,779,357, originally filed in Q2 2007.
Granted Patent: Multi-Touch, Multi-Event Technology
Apple has won a major Multi-Touch Multi-Event patent that pertains to all of their touch surface based media players including the iPhone. The patent covers the ability to touch a touchscreen with a finger tip, a fingernail or a finger that is covered by a glove or even thimble and still be recognized as a viable and allowable indicator tool.
Apple's patent covers systems, methods, and devices that provide for a touch surface that improves upon the prior art of multi-touch. Various embodiments illustrated in the patent show how the new technology improves upon prior art by providing more robust touch surfaces that could recognize and distinguish different types of touch inputs. Accordingly, the number of types of input and the number of types of events are advantageously increased. In this manner, additional functionality could be achieved. Moreover, various embodiments of the present disclosure could also provide for increased precision in detecting touches. The increased precision is beneficial on current or future smaller surfaces.
Among other things, embodiments of the present disclosure provide multi-event input methods that discriminate between a first contact and a second contact, wherein the first contact is between a touch-surface display and a flesh surface and the second contact is between the touch-surface display and a non-flesh surface. The first contact is used to drive a first event, and the second contact is used to drive a second event. In some embodiments, the flesh surface may comprise a palmar aspect of a finger. In some embodiments, the non-flesh surface may comprise a fingernail.
Unlike conventional touch screens, the touch screen 120 is capable of recognizing multiple types of touch inputs. The touch screen allows for handling of different events depending on what is used to touch the touch screen. In accordance with various embodiments of the patent, the touch screen is capable of distinguishing between a contact made by the flesh of your finger (140) and your fingernail (150). Beyond the non-flesh surface of your finger being a fingernail, the patent details that it could also mean using the fingertip of a glove, a band aid, thimble or rubber finger cap.
As yet another illustrative example, tapping with the second surface of the finger may be used to bring up an action menu. For example, tapping with the first surface of the finger on a row entry may be used to display the selected item. Tapping with the second surface of the finger may be used to display another set of actions, such as less frequently invoked actions. Tapping the message with the second surface of the finger, as shown in FIG. 6A below, may be used to display various actions, such as, for example, reply, delete, or forward, etc., as shown in FIG. 6B.
As yet another illustrative example, in a media player application, while playing a movie or song, or other audio or video content, dragging with the second surface of the finger may be used to scrub through the content, i.e., move the currently viewed or heard part of it backwards or forwards in order to locate something in it quickly, as depicted in FIGS. 10A-10C. You could begin to move the indicator with your finger and then switch to a fingernail and it will still operate – yet not allow the first movement to be performed with the fingernail.
Apple credits Scott Herz, Roberto Yepez and Wayne Westerman as the inventors of Granted Patent 7,777,732, originally filed in Q1 2007.
Granted Patent: The MacBook's Magnetic Latch
Apple has won a patent for their Macbook/Macbook Pro magnetic latch technology. Apple's abstract states that "A magnetic latch for a display of a laptop computer uses magnetic attraction to maintain the display closed and uses magnetic repelling forces to pop-up the display when opened. The latch includes one or more magnetic elements in the body of the laptop and at least one magnetic element in the display. When the display is closed, the magnet element in the display is positioned adjacent the magnet element in the body having an opposite polarity so that the magnet elements are attracted to one another. To pop-up the display, the user moves the magnetic element in the display so that it meets the magnetic pole in the body having the same polarity. When these meet, the repelling force between them causes the display to open slightly so that a user can then readily open the display."
Apple credits Chris Ligtenberg and Brett Degner as the inventors of Granted Patent 7,775,567 originally filed in Q4 2005.
Granted Patent: Final Cut Pro – Audio Technology
Apple has won a patent that relates primarily to Final Cut Pro. Apple's invention is directed towards pre-processing individual audio items in a media project in order to improve real-time processing of the media project. This is Apple's forth granted patent for Final Cut Pro in the last eight months. The other granted patents covered topics including Speed Effects, Data Events and Analysis of Motion in Video Sequences.
Some embodiments of Apple's patent provide a method of processing audio data while creating a media presentation. The media presentation includes several audio streams. The method processes a section of a first audio stream and stores the processed section of the first audio stream. The method also processes a section of a second audio stream that overlaps with the processes section of the first audio stream. The method then processes the section of the second audio stream independently of the first audio stream. In some embodiments, the method processes the first audio stream section by applying an effect to the first audio stream section. Also, in some embodiments, the processing of the first audio stream section also entails performing a sample rate conversion on the first audio stream section.
Apple credits Kenneth Carson as the sole inventor of Granted Patent 7,778,823 originally filed in Q4 2007.
Granted Patent: Design Wins for iMac & the iPhone's Unlock Feature
Apple has won design patents for their iPhone's Unlock feature and yet two new patents for their iMac. Apple had just won iMac design patents on August third.
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