The US Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 16 newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today, and in this report we cover Apple's design win for their Cinema Display and focus on two important iChat related patents covering sophisticated audio and their cool 3D-like interface design.
Granted Design Patent: LED Cinema Display
Apple has been granted a design patent for their LED Cinema Display. It'll be interesting to see if Apple raises the quality bar in 2011 by introducing a leap to OLED for their high-end Cinema Display. For What Apple charges for their stand-alone display, they should.
Apple credits VP of Industrial Design Jonathan Ive and team members Bartley Andre, Daniel Coster, Daniele De Iuliis, Evans Hankey, Richard Howarth, Jonathan Ive, 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 D630,210, originally filed in Q1 2010.
Granted Patent: Audio Processing in Multi-Participant Video Conferencing
It's a big patent day for Apple's iChat – as they've picked up two strategically important patent wins. Apple's first granted patent relates to iChat's audio processing while patent two covers the 3D multiple panel interface that relates to streaming video. Although both patents clearly relates to iChat, I'm sure that Apple's new FaceTime will be covered under the scope of these patents.
Apple's Main Patent Claim: A method of distributing audio content in a multi-participant audio/video conference, the method comprising: at a device of a first participant of said conference: receiving audio signals from at least second and third participants of said conference; determining a strength of each received audio signal; generating indicia representative of said strengths for the received audio signals; generating at least first and second mixed audio signals from the received audio signals, said first mixed audio signal different from said second mixed audio signal; to each particular mixed audio signal, appending a set of generated strength indicia of the audio signals that are mixed to produce the particular mixed audio signal; transmitting said first mixed audio signal to said second participant; and transmitting said second mixed audio signal to said third participant.
Other selected aspects covered in Apple's claims include: A method of creating a stereo panning effect in a multi-participant audio/video conference; a method of distributing audio content in a multi-participant audio/video conference; and a computer readable medium storing a computer program for distributing audio content in a multi-participant audio/video conference.
Apple credits Hyeonkuk Jeong and Ryan Salsbury as the inventors of Granted Patent 7,864,209 originally filed in Q2 2005.
In Apple's second granted patent relating to iChat titled " Multi-way video conferencing user interface," we see that it covers iChat's user interface that provides multiple participant panels.
Apple's Main Patent Claim: A computer-implemented method for displaying participant panels in a user interface window of a videoconferencing application, the method comprising: receiving in a single computer at least two live video streams, each live video stream associated with a remote participant; generating in the computer a single user interface window; determining a three dimensional model view for displaying participant panels; generating in the three dimensional model view a participant panel for each of the live video streams, each participant panel associated with a remote participant, the participant panels including a first participant panel and a second participant panel; determining a viewport for rendering the three dimensional model view, including the first participant panel and the second participant panel, in the single user interface window; determining a projection of the participant panels in the viewport such that a projected size of each participant panel in the viewport is the same number of units as a size of the participant panel in the model view; displaying the first participant panel to the left of a horizontal center of the user interface window, the first participant panel displayed in a coplanar orientation with respect to the plane of the user interface window; displaying the second participant panel to the right of the horizontal center of the user interface window, the second participant panel displayed in the coplanar orientation with respect to the plane of the user interface window; receiving a trigger event to display the first participant panel and the second participant panel in a perspective orientation relative to the plane of the user interface window; and responsive to receiving the trigger event: displaying the first participant panel in a perspective orientation relative to the plane of the user interface window, wherein the first participant panel is angled towards the horizontal center of the user interface window; and displaying the second participant panel in the perspective orientation relative to the plane of the user interface window, wherein the second participant panel is angled towards the horizontal center of the user interface window.
Apple credits Marcel van Os, Peter Westen and Imran Chaudhri as the inventors of Granted Patent 7,865,834 originally filed in Q2 2004.
Other Noteworthy Granted Patents Published Today
Fuel Cells: Okay, what are the Crazy Ones in Cupertino up to now? Apple has invented a collector plate made of bulk solidifying amorphous alloy. We pointed to LiquidMetal being an amorphous alloy back in June. However, the invention relates to fuel cells. And what will Apple do with that, being that it has nothing to do with batteries? The patent doesn't say and I'm not going to guess. So - does anyone have an idea on what Apple could be up to with this invention - or is it simply a future miniature fuel cell for Apple portables?
Update: It should also be noted for trivia sake, that it's Apple's second granted patent related to Liquid Metal in the last 60 days. PikeResearch points to various markets and power requirements per industry segment while providing a time frame for the micro-fuel cell segment to come to market being between 2012 and 2017.
It should also be noted that Apple's patent actually presents very little reference in respect to what end products Apple is aiming for. The only reference in the patent of an end-product range is as follows: "This increased efficiency is particulary useful for the application of fuel cells in mobile devices and equipment, such as automobiles and the like because the less bulky the fuel cell, the easier it is to provide storage for the device on such a mobile device." Read into that as you will.
Network Computing: The naysayers once argued that Apple would never, ever, ever touch NC's, network computing. Years later and Apple has been granted a patent relating to network computing (NC). In particular, it relates to the provision, administration and maintenance of an operating system in a net-booted environment.
Mac OS: Apple has been granted another patent relating to the Mac OS translating data objects from big-endian to little endian, as an example. By placing data object format translation capabilities into the OS, the software development effort required to permit an application to execute in a heterogeneous environment is signficantly reduced. For more information see Apple's patent titled "Typed-Data Translation for Platform Independence."
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. About Comments: Patently Apple reserves the right to post, dismiss or edit comments.