The US Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 22 newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today. In our third and final report of the day, we say goodbye to Shake, get ready to bury the clickwheel and lastly – take a look at pattern searching via Apple's Spotlight – that's still alive and well.
Granted Patent: Spotlight
Apple has been granted a patent for Spotlight under the title of "Pattern searching methods and apparatuses."
Apple's patent FIG. 2 provides us with an overview of the inventive pattern identification system and the way in which the system identifies interesting patterns. The core of the system is the pattern search engine (patent point #4), which implements the inventive pattern identification method using weightings.
The pattern search engine receives a text which is to be searched for known patterns. This text may be a word processor document or an email message. The text is often encoded in some standards-based format, such as ASCII or Unicode. If system is implemented in a mobile phone, the text may also be an SMS or MMS message. If system is part of an instant messaging application, such as Apple's iChat , the text may be a message text received via such an instant messaging application. As a further example, the text may also correspond to a web page presented by a web browser, such as Safari from Apple which you could see at the bottom of the graphic below.
Apple's patent FIG. 3 is a flow chart illustrating the main operations of a preferred pattern detection application, as seen by the user, implementing the inventive pattern identification method; In Patent FIG. 6C Clicking on the arrow 32, the user initiates the action "New Calendar Event" associated with the identified pattern. The last graphic is to illustrate how when you search for a word in Safari on a Mac, the document will first darken and then the text that you're searching for will stand out dramatically as shown above.
Apple credits three of their engineers stationed in Paris France as the inventors of granted patent 7,912,828: Olivier Bonnet, Frederic De Jaeger and Toby Paterson.
Granted Patent: Clickwheel
Apple has won their most elaborate clickwheel related patent ever under the title "Compact input device." It's unknown at this time if Apple ever intends to update their iPod Classic to a taller styled unit as the patent graphic below suggests or simply repurpose it for a future device such as a camera – but this 2008 filing suggests that they've done some updating to the original clickwheel design.
A first conducting layer may include sensors circumferentially arranged around a sensor area in a closed loop for determining the position of an object such as a finger on a touch surface. These sensors may be based on resistive sensing, surface acoustic wave sensing, pressure sensing (e.g., strain gauge), optical sensing, capacitive sensing and the like. The first conducting layer may also include some traces for routing the various electrical components of the input device. A second conducting layer may include traces. A third conducting layer may include grounding. In addition, the third conducting layer may include additional traces, and connections to one or more touch surface movement detectors, for example dome switches, and connections to a controller. The controller may be mounted on any layer of the input device either directly or with one or more layers in between, for example, the controller may be mounted on an adhesion or dielectric layer. Further, the relative positions of the conducting layers may be switched.
By including a second conducting layer that includes traces, the amount of area on the first and third conducting layers dedicated to traces may be reduced. This may result in an input device that has a smaller sensor/switch area and/or an input device that includes a lager sensor or switch area. In addition, if capacitive sensors are used for the sensors, by locating traces on another layer parasitic capacitance issues that may result when the traces are located too close to the sensors may be reduced.
The input device may also include routing and connections for an integrated circuit, such a controller mounted to the input device. The input device may also include connections for connecting the input device to other components, for example the main processor or circuit board of an electronic device. Different portions of the flexible input device may utilize less than three conducting layers, for example two layers or one conducting layers. When the number of conducting layers in certain areas is reduced, the number of dielectric layers between these conducting layers may similarly be reduced. By reducing the number of dielectric layers, the flexibility of the input device in these areas may be increased. This allows the two layer and one layer areas to flex or bend within an electronic device. The transition from three layers to two layers or one layer may be made using a non linear scallop or wave pattern for the dielectric substrate. By using a non-linear pattern, the stress at these points may be reduced and resulting delamination may be prevented.
For more information on this Granted Patent, see 7,910,843. Apple credits Fletcher Rothkopf, Jan Moolsintong, Joseph Fisher and Wendell as inventors of this patent. The taller styled iPod has been a curious design favorite in a number of patents including this one. Yet with the multi-touch trend of hardware now in play with Apple's iPod touch, iPhone, iPad and even the latest iPod nano, I doubt if there's any life still ticking in a clickwheel driven pod of any kind in the labs of Cupertino these days. Long live the clickwheel.
Granted Patent: Shake
Apple has been granted two patents relating to their defunct image compositing package known as Shake. Shake was widely used in visual effects and digital compositing for film, HD and commercials.
The first granted patent is 7,912,337 titled "Spatial and temporal alignment of video sequences." The second granted patent is 7,912,317 and is titled "Estimating and removing lens distortion from scenes." Patent FIG. 4 of the first patent illustrates a frame in a first video sequence. Patent FIG. 5 of the second patent illustrates an example of an image that is distorted by the lens in a video compositing embodiment. Unless Apple intends to resurrect this software, it looks like it has bit the dust for good. RIP.
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. Patents shouldn't be digested as rumors or fast-tracked according to rumor time tables. Apple patents represent true research that could lead to future products and should be understood in that light. About Comments: Patently Apple reserves the right to post, dismiss or edit comments.