Amongst some of yesterday's seemingly minor Apple granted patents was one that I almost overlooked. It seemed like a patent describing Apple's SIM card slot assembly and no more. Yet under closer investigation, it became clear that Apple has their eye on expanding the use of their ejectable component assembly. The patent points to other future applications such as memory cards or perhaps a tiny SD card. But the real eye opener here is that Apple is considering integrating things like microprocessor or integrated circuit cards. That translates into how the iWallet component will come to be in the iPhone, iPod touch, iPad and other future miniature devices. You'll simply pop your mini-credit card chip into one of these protected ejectable assemblies just like you do today with a SIM card.
Ejectable Component Assemblies in Electronic Devices
Apple's patent FIG. 1 shown below illustrates an embodiment of personal electronic device (patent point #10) that includes at least one ejectable component assembly.
Applies to Portables and Handhelds
Apple states specifically that the term "personal electronic device" could include, but isn't limited to, music players, video players, still image players, game players, other media players, music recorders, video recorders, cameras, other media recorders, radios, medical equipment, calculators, cellular telephones, other wireless communication devices, personal digital assistants, remote controls, pagers, laptop computers, printers, or combinations thereof.
Also Applies to Future Miniature Devices
The patent also applies to future miniature electronic devices having an ejectable component assembly constructed in accordance with the principles of Apple's invention. Miniature personal electronic devices may have a form factor that is smaller than an iPod. Illustrative miniature personal electronic devices could be integrated into various objects that include, but are not limited to, watches, rings, necklaces, belts, accessories for belts, headsets, accessories for shoes, virtual reality devices, other wearable electronics, accessories for sporting equipment, accessories for fitness equipment, key chains, or any combination thereof. Alternatively, electronic devices that incorporate an ejectable component assembly may not be portable at all – such as a desktop.
Applications beyond the SIM Card
The personal electronic device could include at least one or more user input component assembly that allows a user to manipulate a function of the device, at least one device output component assembly that provides the user with valuable device generated information, at least one ejectable component assembly that allows a user to insert and eject a removable module into and from the device, and a protective housing that at least partially encloses the one or more input, output, and ejectable component assemblies of the device.
The ejectable component assembly may be any assembly that inserts into and ejects from the device a removable module (see, e.g., module 30 of FIGS. 3 and 4 above) that may be of a variety of forms, including, but not limited to, integrated circuit cards (ICCs), chip cards, memory cards, flash memory cards, microprocessor cards, smart cards, such as subscriber identity module (SIM) cards, or combinations thereof, containing electronic circuitry (see, e.g., circuitry 32 of FIGS. 3 and 4) from which the device may read data and/or to which the device may write data.
The iWallet via Integrated Circuit Card (ICC)
Today, Integrated Circuit Cards (ICCs) are embedded into up-to-date credit cards. If you brush your finger over the circuit, you could easily tell that it's been embedded and it's this kind of ICC that could be set into a SIM-Like card to fit into future ejectable component assemblies that Apple describes in this patent. So in short, this is why your future iPhone, iPad or iPod could be your iWallet. It's how your portable devices will become your credit card – because the card is literally integrated into your devices via the ejectable assembly. These cards could be used in a contactless manner.
Apple credits Erik Wang, Sean Murphy, Tang Tan, Jeffrey Neaves, Lawrence Davis and Sung Kim as the inventors of Granted Patent 7,865,210, originally filed in Q2 2007.
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