The US Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of fifteen newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today. In our first patent report of the day, we focus mainly on Apple's unique magnet array system that could one day allow tiny yet powerful accessories to be added to both iOS devices and perhaps even the MacBook Air. Our report's secondary focus covers Apple's communication protocol that is used in their Nike + iPod system.
Apple Wins a Patent for a Unique Magnet Array System for Coupling and Aligning an Accessory to an Electronic Device
Apple has received a Granted Patent that relates to a magnet array for coupling and aligning an accessory to an electronic device. In particular, the patent covers a pseudo-random magnet array for coupling an accessory requiring a specific alignment to an electronic device.
What products does Apple envision for this sophisticated magnetic accessory system? Well, according to their patent, they first see it as a camera accessory for iOS devices; specifically, an optical accessory such as a zoom lens or specialized camera filter. Beyond that, Apple envisions that magnetic based accessories could expand to include such things as a directional microphone and/or a speaker dock. Apple's patent FIG. 2 shown below is a schematic view of an optical accessory coupled to an iPhone.
Apple states that the user will twist the accessory to both tighten and loosen the magnetic force between the device and accessory. While the patent states that fastening the accessory to the device could include one or more mechanical fasteners such as screws clips, a hook, fastener material or latches, we could be assured that Apple will chose something that will be aesthetically pleasing. If Apple redesigns the iPhone 5 to include a metal backing, for instance, Apple could theoretically create a fastening/aligning system akin to their current iPad Smart Cover. Once in place tightening the device would only take a few twists.
Interestingly, Apple states that the magnetic array could also apply to a laptop camera as well. Although it's a long shot, it could also be an interesting way to add a more robust speaker to the MacBook Air as noted above.
Apple's First Claim: An accessory operative to be coupled to an authorized portable electronic device having an interface, comprising: a body comprising a first surface operative to be positioned adjacent to the interface when the accessory is coupled to the authorized electronic device; a coupling mechanism for securing the accessory to the authorized electronic device, wherein an orientation of the body could be positioned in any one of at least two different orientations; and a magnet array incorporated in the body and placed adjacent to the first surface, wherein: the magnet array comprises a plurality of magnets that align with opposing magnets of the authorized portable electronic device to limit the orientation of the body to only one of the at least two different orientations when the accessory is secured to the electronic device by the coupling mechanism, and the orientation of at least one magnet of the magnet array is selected by the user to prevent the accessory from being coupled to an unauthorized device.
To review Apple's other nineteen patent claims and invention detailing, see granted patent 8,073,324. Apple credits Richard Tsai as the sole inventors of this patent which was originally filed in Q1 2009. For more details on this patent, you could also review our original report which was first posted in September 2010.
Apple Wins Patent for Nike + iPod System using a New Accessory Communications Protocol
Apple has received a Granted Patent that relates to the Nike + iPod system. Apple's patent FIG. 1 below illustrates a block diagram of this sports monitoring system.
The sports device, noted as patent point 104 below, is a pedometer, a heart rate monitor, etc. The sports device includes one or more sensors that acquire sports related data.
The sports device also includes wireless transmission capability so that the sports related data could be transmitted to the portable media device. In particular, the portable media device includes a wireless interface accessory 106. The wireless interface accessory includes a wireless transceiver so that the wireless interface accessory could receive the sports related data being transmitted by the sports device by way of a wireless connection through a personal wireless network. The portable media device could receive the sports related data from the sports device via the wireless interface accessory and could then operate to process and store the sports related data on the portable media device.
The patent details a protocol that supports the portable media device in setting a transmit beacon data frame and a beacon transmission notifier identifier on the accessory device. The description of the protocol is quite extensive.
Apple's patent FIGS. 6D noted above illustrates one of four commands related to an accessory protocol.
Apple's First Claim: A method for communicating between a portable electronic device and an accessory device, said method comprising: issuing a device capabilities request to the accessory device; receiving a device capabilities response from the accessory device, wherein the device capabilities response includes information regarding one or more of: filtering capabilities, listening mode capabilities and listening window timing capabilities; issuing a device mode setting request used to set an operational mode of the accessory device; issuing a set filter request used to configure network filtering at the accessory device; issuing a set receive window timing request used to set a receive window during which the accessory device actively listens for incoming data frames over a wireless network from one or more sensor devices and outside of which the accessory device does not listen for incoming data frames in order to conserve power; and subsequently interacting with the accessory device based on the device capabilities, the operational mode and the network filtering, wherein the interacting operates to receive data frames at the portable electronic device from the accessory device, the data frames being received by the accessory device during the receive window from the one or more sensor devices.
To review Apple's other sixteen patent claims and invention detailing, see granted patent 8,073,984. Apple credits Gregory Lydon and Scott Kruger as the inventors of this patent which was originally filed in Q2 2006. This patent marks Apple's third granted patent for the Nike + iPod system. Their first granted patent was published in 2009 while their second granted patent was published in 2010.
Final Patent Round-Up
Over and above the granted patents that were specifically reported on today, we present you with links to all of the other granted patents in our Final Patent Round-Up as follows:
8,074,172 - Method, system, and graphical user interface for providing word recommendations
8,072,471 - Processing cursor movements in a graphical user interface of a multimedia application
8,073,248 - Automatic detection of calibration charts in images
8,073,813 - Refresh and filter anchors
Notice: Patently Apple presents only a brief summary of granted patents with associated graphics for journalistic news purposes as each Granted Patent is revealed by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Readers are cautioned that the full text of any Granted Patent should be read in its entirety for full details. About Comments: Patently Apple reserves the right to post, dismiss or edit comments.