The US Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 10 newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today. In our second report of the day we cover a great number of Apple's granted patents including one for Final Cut Pro, a design patent for the App Store's icon imagery, another for an Apple Store related system and a few other minor patents along the way. Yet the surprise of the day certainly goes to a quality testing system designed for high-end LCD displays designed for such systems as a television or an iMac. Apple's display's have been a definite cut above their competitors for some time now and learning about this secret testing equipment easily explains one of the reasons for their ongoing success. Attention to quality detailing is Apple's Hallmark.
Granted Patent: LCD Quality Testing System
Apple has been granted a very interesting patent relating to an LCD quality Testing System devised by one of their Senior Scientists Gabriel Marcu. The testing system was devised to ramp of the quality of Apple's iMac and yes, a televsion. Whether an HDTV ever surfaces is another matter. Apple's displays are generally a cut above their competitors and it's one of the things you always notice at an Apple Store: How potential customers comment on the brilliance of Apple's displays from the MacBook Air through to the iPad. Apple's patent finally gives us a peek into a new system that most of us never even knew existed until now. Below is a brief overview of this new quality display system.
Overview of Apple's Display Quality System
One of the issues relating to thin displays, such as LCD screens, relates to the brightness and the quality of sections of the LCD screens. For example, much work has been dedicated to improving the brightness of LCD displays. Also, a large amount of effort has been dedicated to providing displays that provide more accurate colors and brightness when viewed at particular angles.
One of the problems associated with the manufacture of LCD displays include manufacturing a number of LCD displays, such as LCD monitors, that have fairly consistent displays in terms of sharpness, contrast, color, and/or other features when viewed at various angles. When manufacturing LCD displays, a number of tests are performed on the various portions of the screen of the display for quality control. Testing instruments are generally oriented at various angles, such as in a perpendicular orientation, and testing is then performed on the LCD screens as part of the manufacturing and testing processes. For example, testing includes measuring various colors on LCD screens according to predetermined standards, such as the ISO 13406 Standard. Often, a perpendicular orientation of the test instrument to the screen of the LCD monitor is used.
The accuracy of the angle in relation to the test instrument and the LCD screen is important to the accuracy of the test performed on the display screen. One of the problems associated with the current methodology is that the test operator generally positions an instrument to the LCD screen utilizing approximations, which may cause delay and inaccurate test results. Additionally, a test angle used to analyze one LCD monitor may vary from the angle used to analyze another LCD monitor, thereby resulting in inconsistent test results of a batch of LCD monitors. Dedicating more time and resources to insure the accuracy of the angle between the test instrument and the LCD screen may cause inefficiencies (e.g., inaccurate testing, repeating screen adjustments, etc.) during the manufacturing and testing of computer displays, such as LCD monitors.
Apple's invention is directed to overcoming, or at least reducing, one or more of the problems set forth above.
Apple's patent FIG. 3 illustrates a computer display such as an LCD monitor, whose screen (320) may be tested using a testing device (350). In one embodiment, states Apple, "the monitor may be a television screen." The testing device may be a measurement device, such as photometers, radiometers, and the like. The monitor may be the monitor of a desktop computer, such as Apple's iMac.
Apple's patent FIG. 6, an implementation of the present invention utilizing a feedback control process is illustrated. Patent FIG. 6 also illustrates an optical source (130) that is affixed to the second object (135) in addition to illustrating a feedback control unit (610) which is capable of performing feedback control to align the second object with the alignment object (110) to a desired orientation. The feedback control unit may comprise a computer system, a controller, a microcontroller, a processor, or other electronic circuitry (hardware, software, firmware, or a combination of two or more) that could detect and generate signals to control the alignment of the second object with the alignment object.
For more information on this testing system, see granted patent 7,933,008.
Granted Design Patent: App Store Icon
In the midst of Microsoft's strong objections over Apple's ability to trademark mark the words "App Store," Apple expanded the scope of their proposed trademark in Europe earlier this month. Today, just to rub it in a little further, Apple has been granted a design patent for the App Store in its various states.
Apple credits Raymond Sepulveda as the sole inventor and/or artist of Granted Patent D636,786, originally filed in Q2 2009.
Granted Patent: the Apple Store's Stored Order System
While we're on the topic of stores, Apple has been granted another strategic patent win relating to their online Apple Store System.
Specifically, the patent details a stored order system which is used along with a shopping cart application. The items of each stored order are saved together, which is an advantage when a main item and accessories are combined in an order. Additionally, a stored order can be E-mailed to another person. The E-mail message allows the recipient to purchase the items of the stored order.
Apple credits Eduardo Cue, Daniel Marusich, Glenn Epis and Judy as the inventors of Granted Patent 7,933,807, originally filed in Q3 2007.
Granted Patent: Final Cut Pro's UI for Controlling 3D Animation of an Object
Apple's been granted a patent relating to Final Cut Pro's UI for controlling 3D animation of an object. Various embodiments of Apple's invention cover various aspects of behaviors and working with behaviors. One embodiment covers behaviors themselves, including animations that could be produced by applying a behavior to an item and the algorithms underlying these animations.
Another embodiment covers using behaviors in conjunction with keyframes. Yet another embodiment covers objects to which behaviors may be applied, including, for example, images, text, particle systems, filters, generators, and other behaviors. Yet another embodiment covers dynamic rendering of objects to which behaviors have been applied, including changing an animation in real-time after the value of a behavior parameter has been changed. Yet another embodiment covers hardware acceleration methods that enable users to work effectively with behaviors.
The user-manipulable control element includes a three-dimensional arrow with a straight body, a three-dimensional arrow with a curved body, or a sphere. In one embodiment, the interface includes a virtual trackball that is used to manipulate the user-manipulable control element. Various embodiments presented in the patent are shown above for your convenience.
Other Granted Patents Published Today
Apple has been granted a patent relating to the two-piece housing of the iPhone. Apple's patent abstract states that "A first part may be provided with components such as a display, a touch screen, a cover glass, and a frame. A second part may be provided with a plastic housing, circuit boards containing electrical components, and a bezel. Engagement members may be connected to the first and second parts. The engagement members may be formed from metal clips with holes and springs with flexible spring prongs that mate with the holes in the clips. The metal clips may be welded to frame struts on the frame and the springs may be welded to the bezel. During assembly, the first part may be rotated into place within the second part. Retention clips attached to the frame may be used to secure the two parts together. If knowing everything about the construction of the iPhone interests you, then check out granted patent 7,933,123.
And finally - Apple has also been granted patents for their universal docking station as well as one relating to the iPhone's wireless communications circuitry. And that raps it up for granted patents for April 2011.
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.