The US Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 14 newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today. Two of these patents cover design wins relating to their fifth generation iPod nano and their third generation iPod shuffle. Beyond their design wins, the notables within this group cover a wide range of technology including a system for replacing corrupted media files on portable devices, methods of controlling LED backlighting, Apple's iTunes Party Shuffle and a security system for portables that may go beyond Apple's current "Find my iPhone" application.
Granted Design Patents: iPod Shuffle, iPod Nano
Apple has been granted design patents for their third generation iPod Shuffle and fifth generation iPod nano. It's interesting to note that Apple re-filed these older designs in 2010 for some reason.
Apple credits CEO Steve Jobs, Senior VP Industrial Design Jonathan Ive and team members Bartley Andre, Daniel Coster, Daniele De Iuliis, Evans Hankey, Richard Howarth, Duncan Kerr, Shin Nishibori, Matthew Dean Rohrbach, Peter Russell-Clarke, Douglas Satzger, Christopher Stringer, Eugene Whang and Rico Zorkendorfer as the inventors of Granted Patent D626,552, originally filed in Q1 2010 though applications are noted going as far back as 2008.
Apple credits Senior VP Industrial Design Jonathan Ive and team members Bartley Andre, Daniel Coster, Daniele De Iuliis, Evans Hankey, Richard Howarth, Duncan Kerr, Shin Nishibori, Matthew Dean Rohrbach, Peter Russell-Clarke, Douglas Satzger, Christopher Stringer, Eugene Whang and Rico Zorkendorfer as the inventors of Granted Patent D626,530, originally filed in Q2 2010 though applications date back to 2008.
Granted Patent: Security using Electronic Devices
Apple has been granted a patent for systems and methods for providing security to a user of an electronic device such as an iPhone or iPad. The patent describes new security capabilities that appear to go far beyond today's "Find my iPhone."
Apple's patent FIG. 4 is a flowchart of illustrative processes for providing security using an electronic device. FIGS. 5A and 5B show illustrative graphic user interfaces on a display of an electronic device.
According to Apple's patent, an electronic device such as an iPhone, iPod or iPad could be configured to enter a prevention mode in response to detecting a force that exceeds a predetermined threshold, thereby providing security. Upon entering a prevention mode, the iOS device may transmit a security transmission, in the form of a telephone call or an e-mail. This security transmission, when received by a security entity (police, security agency), could lead to the security entity dispatching an officer to the device's location, or to the security entity placing a telephone call to the device's owner, thereby providing security. Embodiments are also provided whereby the device, upon entering a prevention mode, may enter an automatic lock-down mode. When in lock-down mode, the device may become inaccessible by any user, or alternatively may be accessed only if a security password is provided by the user.
Apple credits Michael Lee as the sole inventor of Granted Patent 7,825,820, originally filed in Q3 2007. It's unknown at this time if Apple simply "dumbed" down this patent under "Find my iPhone" or whether this is the next phase of that program. It's pretty difficult to think that busy police departments around the globe are going to take the time to hunt down stolen iPhone's in a timely manner. Then again, that's just my opinion, of course.
Granted Patent: Re-Synchronizing Corrupted Data
Apple's patent FIG. 1 is a schematic diagram showing an example of a system for replacing corrupted media files on a portable device.
Media files, such as music files, could be stored on a portable device like an iPod or iPhone. For example, a user could listen to music files stored on a portable music player. The media files could also be stored on the user's personal computer, which could be synchronized with the portable device. In certain circumstances, however, media stored on the portable device could become corrupted. For example, a music file stored on a portable media player could become corrupt after events such as a power loss while accessing the music file or after physical trauma to the media player.
In general, Apple's granted patent describes identifying and restoring corrupted data stored, for example, on a portable media player. Some of the described implementations include synching a portable media player with a host device (e.g., a personal computer). During the synchronization, the host device could query the media player to determine whether any media stored on the device should be replaced. For example, the host device could determine whether a corruption event occurred in association with a media file (e.g., whether the media player skipped the media file as unplayable). In another example, the host could determine whether portions of a media player's storage device are damage or "bad." If a bad portion is detected, the host device can identify media stored on the portion as corrupt. After identifying corrupted media, the host can replace the media with valid copies.
The systems and techniques described in Apple's patent, may provide one or more of the following advantages. First, corrupted data on a portable device could be restored without manual intervention during a restoration process. Second, corrupted media files could be identified during use of a media player and marked for later restoration when coupled to a host device. Third, user convenience could be increased by permitting a user to purchase media that was corrupted on a portable device and that is not present on the user's home computer. Fourth, corrupted media files could be identified during a hardware scan of memory storing the media files and marked for later restoration when coupled to a host.
Apple credits Christopher Dudte and Michael Cornwell as the inventors of Granted Patent 7,827,440, originally filed in Q1 2008.
Other Granted Patents (GP) Published Today
GP - 7,827,568 - Integration of Structural and Cosmetic Bezel having a Disk Guide for a Slot Loading Optical Drive: Apple has been granted a patent relating to their MacBook. Apple's invention generally relates to an optical drive bezel for an optical disk drive that includes integration of structural and cosmetic bezels for a slot loading optical drive.
GP - 7,827,358 - Memory Management Methods and Systems: As more and more services are becoming available for small or mobile devices, the number of applications running in a single device has increased significantly. Usually, a small or mobile device is used mostly for certain specific applications, while being equipped with general purpose computing capabilities. For example, it is common to find a mobile phone device that also runs a browser application, a gaming application, and a music player application, etc. On the other hand, a mobile video player device may run a gaming application and/or an email application in addition to a video application. Normally, multiple running applications in the same device compete with each other by sharing the same memory space embedded inside the device.
Apple's granted patent covers an invention that includes a method and apparatus that determine a usage level of a memory device to notify a running application to perform memory reduction operations selected based on the memory usage level. An application calls APIs (Application Programming Interface) integrated in the system to perform memory reduction operations. A memory usage level is determined according to a memory usage status received from the kernel of a system. A running application is associated with application priorities ranking multiple running applications statically or dynamically. Selecting memory reduction operations and notifying a running application may be based on application priorities.
GP - 7,827,259 - Method and system for configurable automatic media selection: Apple's granted patent pertains to their iTunes "Party Shuffle." Technically, Apple's patent covers method and system for configurable automatic media selection Techniques for repeatedly selecting and presenting media items at a media device are disclosed. In one embodiment, media items are automatically (or dynamically) selected from a media source (e.g., list of media items) and then presented at a media device. As a result, the selected media items could be continuously selected and presented in an automated manner.
GP - 7,826,528 - Method and Apparatus for Variable Accuracy Inter-Picture Timing Specification for Digital Video Encoding: Apple's granted patent covers an invention that generally relates to the field of multimedia compression systems. In particular the present invention discloses methods and systems for specifying variable accuracy inter-picture timing. A method and apparatus for variable accuracy inter-picture timing specification for digital video encoding is disclosed. Specifically, the present invention discloses a system that allows the relative timing of nearby video pictures to be encoded in a very efficient manner. In one embodiment, the display time difference between a current video picture and a nearby video picture is determined. The display time difference is then encoded into a digital representation of the video picture. In a preferred embodiment, the nearby video picture is the most recently transmitted stored picture. For coding efficiency, the display time difference may be encoded using a variable length coding system or arithmetic coding. In an alternate embodiment, the display time difference is encoded as a power of two to reduce the number of bits transmitted.
GP - 7,826,318 - Method and System for Allowing a Media Player to Transfer Digital Audio to an Accessory: Apple's granted patent covers how digital audio could be transferred between a portable media player and an accessory.
A portable media player such as an iPod typically includes one or more connectors or ports that could be used to interface with other devices. For example, the connector or port could enable the portable media player to couple to a host computer, be inserted into a docking system, or receive an accessory device. In the case of the iPod, for example, a vast array of accessory devices have been developed that can interconnect to the portable media player. For example, a remote control could be connected to the connector or port to allow the user to remotely control the portable media player. As another example, an automobile could include a connector and the portable media player could be inserted onto the connector such that an automobile media system can interact with the portable media player, thereby allowing the media content on the portable media player to be played within the automobile. In another example, a digital camera can be connected to the portable media player to download images and the like.
Apple's patent FIG. 6A illustrates a portable media player coupled to a stereo accessory for transfer of digital audio. FIG. 6B shows a stereo accessory.
GP - 7,825,891 - Dynamic backlight control system: Apple has been granted a patent relating to their LED display backlighting. Apple was granted another related patent just last week titled "Rendering Luminance Levels of a High Dynamic Range Display."
Technically speaking, Apple's patent details methods of eliminating stray light emissions from an LED while ambient light is being sensed. As such, dynamic backlight control systems for use with an electronic display are presented including: an ambient light sensor for sensing ambient light intensity; a backlight for illuminating the electronic display; a switch for controlling the backlight, the switch configured to set a backlight condition to ON or OFF in response to a backlight-off frequency such that the ambient light sensor senses the ambient light intensity in the absence of the backlight; a logic module for determining a backlight level in response to the ambient light intensity; and a backlight control circuit for adjusting the backlight to the backlight level in response to the ambient light intensity.
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