Earlier today we posted reports covering Apple's design wins for the iPhone 4 and iPad in addition to covering Multi-Touch and Liquid Metal. The last noteworthy granted patents that were published today by the USPTO involve the technology behind a point-of-sale device and system, (one that is likely used in all Apple Stores) in addition to Apple's iChat and iCal applications.
Granted Patent: Methods and Systems for Encoding a Magnetic Stripe
Apple has been granted a patent for encoding a magnetic strip. On one hand it appears that it simply relates to current or future Apple's Gift Cards and on the other hand it appears that they're going much further and describing a point-of-sale system including a device. This could very well be covering the Apple Store's in-store portable transaction devices. Whether this technology goes beyond the Apple Store isn't known at this time.
Apple's patent states outlines the background of the patent by stating that monetary transaction cards generally include smart cards, credit cards, debit cards, automatic teller machine (ATM) cards, identification (ID) cards, and pre-paid cards such as gift cards. Such monetary transaction cards typically include a magnetic stripe, or "magstripe," which is used to enable data to be stored and transmitted. Data which is encoded or otherwise stored on a magnetic stripe may be read by a card reader head, e.g., a card reader head associated with a point-of-sale (POS) system, when the magnetic stripe comes into contact with, and is swiped against, the card reader head.
At times, the amount of space associated with a monetary transaction card that is the size of a standard credit card size may be insufficient from the point-of-view of an issuer of the monetary transaction card. By way of example, if a merchant that distributes a monetary transaction card wishes to display a relatively significant amount of information on the surfaces of the monetary transaction card, the merchant may find that the size of surfaces associated with a standard credit card size are inadequate. However, increasing the surface area associated with a monetary transaction card may result in a larger magnetic stripe that may either be difficult to read or even unreadable using some card reader heads. As a result, data encoded on such a magnetic stripe may not be reliably read.
The present invention pertains to encoding information on a magnetic stripe of a transaction card. The present invention may be implemented in numerous ways, including, but not limited to, as a method, system, device, or apparatus (including computer program code). Example embodiments of the present invention are discussed below.
According to yet another aspect of the present invention, an encoder arrangement includes a pattern input configuration that obtains data to be encoded onto a magnetic stripe of a transaction card, and a pattern representation generator. The pattern representation generator is configured to generate a first representation of the data and a second representation of the data that is a mirror image of the first representation. The encoder arrangement also includes an encoding head that encodes the first representation and the second representation onto the magnetic stripe.
According to still yet another aspect of the present invention, a pre-paid card can have a first side having first, second, third and fourth edges; a second side having the first, second, third and fourth edges; and a magnetic stripe. The second edge is opposite the first edge, and the fourth edge is opposite the third edge. The magnetic stripe can extend across at least the second side of the pre-paid card from the first edge to the second edge. The magnetic stripe stores at least a unique identifier on the magnetic stripe once with respect to the first edge and a second time with respect to the second edge.
Apple's patent covers a system and an apparatus that is used to encode dual representations of a pattern on a magnetic stripe of a transaction card may generally include hardware and/or software devices.
A Point-of-Sale System
In Apple's patent FIG. 7 above we see a block diagram representation of an example of an overall system that authenticates and reads a transaction card, such as a card. A system 770 which allows a transaction card to be authenticated includes a point-of-sale device 774, an intermediary server 772, and a data store arrangement 778. The Point-of-sale device, intermediary server and data store arrangement are generally in communication over a network that may include either or both wired and wireless connections.
The Point-of-sale device may be a computing device associated with a retail location at which a transaction card (not shown) is to be used. The point-of-sale device includes a card reader 780 that a magnetic stripe of a transaction card (not shown) is arranged to be swiped through in order to be read. In general, the card reader includes a card reader head. In one embodiment, the point-of-sale device may be a cash register of a retailer that accepts a transaction card (not shown) as tender for payment.
Apple credits Ted Biskupski as the sole inventor of Granted Patent 7,837,125, originally filed in Q4 2007.
Granted Patent: iChat
Just as Apple's new video calling application FaceTime is about to leap over to OS X Lion in 2011, we see that Apple has been granted an important videoconferencing patent for their current application called iChat, which is available on all Mac products. How much of this technology will be folded into FaceTime in 2011 is unknown at this time, but suffice to say that Apple's videoconferencing technology is now protected.
Apple's patent covers systems and methods for applying effects to a stream in a conference. In one implementation, the methods and systems are applicable for applying visual effects to a video stream in a videoconference. Alternatively, audio effects could be applied in an audio conference. In another implementation, one or both of audio and video effects could be applied to a stream in a videoconference.
In one videoconferencing example, a video input stream of a participant environment for a videoconference is received and filtered by a plurality of filters. The filtered versions of the video stream are displayed to a user, such as a videoconference participant, for selection. A selected filtered version of the video stream is transmitted to other videoconference participants.
Apple credits Jean-Pierre Ciudad, Michael Stochosky, Scott Forstall and Marcel Van as the inventors of Granted Patent 7,839,434, originally filed in Q3 2006.
Granted Patent: iCal
Apple has been granted a patent for iCal. Three built-in applications that work as one: Mail, iCal, and Address Book bring the power of Mac OS X to your email, calendar, and contacts. You get elegant, easy-to-use interfaces, lightning-fast searches, and complete integration across the applications and your Mac.
Apple credits Bertrand Guiheneuf, Sebastien Maury, Olivier Gutknecht and Julien Jalon of Apple France and Scott Ryder of Apple US as the inventors of Granted Patent 7,840,543, originally filed in Q1 2008. Technically, the patent goes back to 2004.
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