The US Patent & Trademark Office has published a patent application from Apple that reveals one of the next chapters for Apple's iPhone. According to Apple's documentation, a future iPhone could actually sport a display on each side of the device so as to advance the richness of reading an e-book or e-magazine. In April of this year Apple revealed a hybrid e-paper and LCD display for a future iPhone and today Apple explains how a user will be able to use such a display with a new flip action mapping system. The mapping system will provide a reader with options that will easily enable them to take notes about what they're reading or view a full dictionary definition or even find related reading materials depending on which direction that they flip their iPhone. This future iPhone will also be able to be turned into unique image viewer. While this is definitely a futuristic design, we're at least getting a peek into the intial phases of Apple's research in finding the ultimate reading application for future mobile devices.
A Peek at a Future Apple e-Book Solution for iPhone
While Apple has filed a number of e-Book related patents this year, this particular patent allows us a peek into a future e-Book solution for the iPhone. The most inventive design shift of this future iPhone is that it'll sport a display on both sides. According to Apple's patent, the secondary display could be instructed to alter any visual content currently displayed as a result of a controlled movement applied to the portable media device. The controlled movement could include, for example, rotating the portable media device (iPhone) around any one (or more) of at least three predefined rotational axes.
By rotating the e-book "end over end" (i.e., rotating about x axis of FIG. 4 below) the secondary display could be instructed to present a table of contents of the identified book to be viewed once the rotation has progressed far enough to bring the secondary display into view (where is now becomes the primary display).
Moreover, if the initial conditions of the e-book are modified (such as selecting a word from the displayed page) prior to rotating, then rotating the e-book in the same manner as before would result not in the table of contents being displayed but a dictionary page presenting at least one definition of the selected word, or words.
A direction of rotation about a selected axis of rotation could be used to modify an operating state of the portable media device. For example, if as in the example presented above the user had rotated the e-book end over end but in an opposite direction (clock wise instead of counter-clockwise, for example), then instead of a table of contents being displayed, the secondary display could be instructed to present an annotation pad suitable for receiving user annotations or other comments that the user would like to associate with the particular page (or associated with a selected word, phrase, paragraph, etc. if selected by the user prior to the rotating).
Context Sensitive for Books
In some embodiments, the alteration of the operation of the e-book or the visual content being displayed could be context sensitive. By context sensitive, it is meant that the alteration of the operation of the e-book or visual content being displayed could depend upon the type of content being presented on the primary display as well as the content itself. For example, if the content being presented on the primary display is a page from a book, then rotating the e-book end over end in a first direction could cause a table of contents to be displayed.
Moreover, if the content being displayed is a tree, for example, then any modification of the operation the e-book (or more generally the dual sided portable media device) could be related to the fact that the tree is being displayed.
Context Sensitive for Magazines
However, if the content being displayed is a magazine article, using the book protocol (i.e., showing the table of contents) would likely be of little interest at that moment to the user. However, in accordance with a magazine protocol, rotating the e-book end over end in the first direction could cause a list of related articles in that magazine or other magazines to be displayed when the rotation is substantially completed.
Context Sensitivity: Language Recognition
Context could also extend to the language of the material being presented to the user. For example, the language being presented to the user may require reading from left to right, or right to left, or up to down, and so on. In this way, the e-book could automatically determine the language in which the data is being presented (or it could be manually provided) and the operation of the e-book and be modified accordingly. Apple later references this ability as "language recognition."
The eBook Reader Could Also Operate as an Image Viewer
It should be noted that the ability of the portable media device to consider the context of the material being presented is not limited to textual data such as that presented by an e-book. On the contrary, the context of the material being presented could also be extended to non-textual data. For example, if data consistent with an electronic version of a book (such as text or graphics data) is being presented, then the portable media device could be configured to operate as an e-book. On the other hand, if the type of data currently being (or to be) presented is image data, such as a JPEG image, then the portable media device could be configured to operate as an image viewer. In this way, the responses of the portable media device to controlled movements supplied by the user could be could be predicated upon the context dependent configuration of the portable media device (e-book, image viewer and so on).
Good for Business: User Adaptability
It should be noted that in some embodiments, the operation of the portable media device could be modified using a set of default conditions preset by the manufacturer of the portable media device. However, it is contemplated that at the discretion of the user, the relationship between a particular user action (such as rotating the device or providing a user input, for example) and any modification of the operation of the portable media device could be set by the user either in whole or part, and reset to a default state if so desired.
Furthermore, when operating as an e-book, language recognition could be provided that could alter response of the e-book to movement provided by the user. For example, some languages are read right to left, whereas others are read left to right whereas still others are read up to down.
Displays on Two Sides of an iPhone to Advance Books & Magazines
Apple's patent figures 1 and 2 illustrate ebook reader having front and back side displays. The read could include a control feature 110 on the first side of reader and control feature 112 on the reverse side of the reader. Control feature buttons could include, for example, a volume control, a power button, a mute control, and so on. Both displays could be touch-sensitive.
Portable media device 100 noted in the patent figures above could take many forms. In one embodiment, the portable media device could take the form of electronic book (e-book) suitable for storing a number of digitized books, magazines, articles, and so on.
As is well known to those skilled in the art, e-book 100 could present visual content (typically textual in nature, but in some cases, graphical content could also be displayed in whole or in part) using any of a number of display technologies. One of the most common display technologies used for e-book applications rely on bi-stable display elements found in electrophoretic displays also referred to as electronic ink (or e-ink) or electronic paper.
However, one disadvantage when using standard electrophoretic displays is that the refresh rate is quite slow, on the order of about one second. Therefore, any configuration of portable media device 100 that utilizes electrophoretic display technology must take into consideration the slow refresh time.
Apple's recently revealed invention of an elaborate "Hybrid Display" back in April illustrates how Apple has been trying to figure out which way to utilize varying display types in one embodiment in the best possible way.
The Co-Ordinate System
In the lower half of our first graphic noted above we see patent FIG. 3 which is illustrating sensor 308. This sensor will be able to detect changes in position, orientation, and/or movement and acceleration along a number of different reference directions, singly or in combination as part of the "device-centric co-ordinate system 400 in FIG. 4.
Based on the orientation of the portable media device in FIG. 4, translational movement along the x-axis could be associated with right/left motion, movement along the y-axis with up/down motion, and movement along the z-axis with front/back or forward/reverse motion.
The noted sensor (308) will be able to detect (in any combination) linear translational motion (402) along the z-axis (404), linear translational motion 408 along the x-axis (410), and linear translational motion (412) along a y-axis (414). Moreover, this specialized sensor will be able to detect rotational movement (416) and angular displacement (404), rotational movement (418) and angular displacement (410), and rotational movement (420) and angular displacement 414).
Flipping the iPhone Gives users Visual Options for Books & Magazines
In Apple's patent FIG. 7 we see display 602 presenting a current page of a book or e-magazine. Apple states that the user will be able to modify the operating state of the e-book or e-magazine in a number of ways. An e-book reader will be able to flip the device left or right, forward or backwards (reverse) to reveal various screen tool options. An e-book reader will be given the option to quickly review or refer to a table of contents, to a dictionary, thesaurus or even access an annotation pad. With an e-magazine, the user will be able to find a list of related articles or a list of articles related to the title.
Apple's specialized sensor which is part of their Co-Ordinate System is able to ensure that the device is always displaying the right screen options while allowing the user to return to the main page of their e-book or e-magazine. Without this advanced sensor to keep track of every flipping movement, trying to return to the reader's original e-book or e-magazine page would be like playing with a Rubik's Cube. This is the genius behind Apple's advanced sensor.
Apple's recent patent application was originally filed in Q1 2010 by inventors Benjamin Rottler and Michael Ingrassia. Another recent Apple e-book patent demonstrates a more natural way of using a dictionary.
Notice: Patently Apple presents a detailed summary of patent applications with associated graphics for journalistic news purposes as each such patent application is revealed by the U.S. Patent & Trade Office. Readers are cautioned that the full text of any patent application should be read in its entirety for full and accurate details. Revelations found in patent applications shouldn't be interpreted as rumor or fast-tracked according to rumor timetables. Apple's patent applications have provided the Mac community with a clear heads-up on some of Apple's greatest product trends including the iPod, iPhone, iPad, iOS cameras, LED displays, iCloud services for iTunes and more.
About Comments: Patently Apple reserves the right to post, dismiss or edit comments.
Here are a Few Great Community Sites covering our Original Report
MacSurfer, MacMagazine Brazil, Twitter, Facebook, Apple Investor News, Google Reader, UpgradeOSX, TechWatching, Macnews, iPhone World Canada, CBS MarketWatch, MacDailyNews Krystian MacKozer Kozerawski Poland, Huffington Post Technology, and more.