The US Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of twenty-two newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today. This morning's first report cover's a smart garment patent which describes technology that will be built into future running shoes related to the Nike + iPod product line. The newly described sensors may also one day be integrated into clothing like shirts and sweat pants and extend through to other sporting footwear like skates skis boots. The base technology is already in place via the Nike + iPod program. And finally to round off our first report of the day, we cover a design patent that Apple has received for an iOS icon.
Apple Wins Smart Garment Patent
Apple has received a Granted Patent that relates to the Nike + iPod product, though it may relate to a future iteration of the product line as it specifically relates to "smart garments." Although the smart running shoe is the main focus of this particular patent, the patent does state that "authorized garments" include shirts and slacks. Elsewhere in the patent Apple mentions cross-country skiing and in-line skating. So the Nike + iPod product line may expand in the future.
The specialized sensors described in this patent that are to be built into the running shoe itself, go beyond the traditional Nike + iPod sensor that we're familiar with today. The new sensors are designed to send the "tracked garment usage and detected wear patterns to the external database." It's also designed to alert a user when the garment reaches its expected useful lifetime, based on the received expected useful lifetime information and on the tracked garment usage. Furthermore, smart garments will be able to tie into possible training programs using a "virtual trainer."
Apple's patent FIG. 2A illustrates authenticating sensor and garment (click on the graphic to enlarge); Apple's patent FIG. 5 shown below illustrates a system for monitoring and/or controlling user exercise or other activity or physiology; patent FIG. 8 shows a running shoe that has been electronically paired with a sensor in accordance with an embodiment of the invention.
According to Apple, patent FIG. 8 shows running shoe 800 that has been electronically paired with sensor 100 in accordance with an embodiment of the invention. Shoe 800 includes applied force sensing units 802, 804, and 806 placed in shoe sole 808 at heel location X.sub.heel, midsole location X.sub.midsole and toe location X.sub.toe each arranged to respectively sense impact force F.sub.heel, F.sub.midsole, and F.sub.toe. Taken over a number of strides, a user's running style profile could be developed that provides a characterization of the user's overall running style.
Apple also states that a virtual coach could provide real time feedback to a user either during or after a run by comparing a user's running style profile to a running style profile template. Interestingly, there's no mention of a Nike + iPod runner with the characteristics presented in today's granted patent. Whether this aspect of the Nike + iPod invention is still to come to market is unknown at this time.
It also appears that the intention of the Nike + iPod program is to eventually go beyond working with running shoes. Apple's invention states that "Outdoors endurance activities have become very popular not only because they are enjoyable and healthy, but also because they provide opportunities for competition, camaraderie, and a structured regimen. It would be beneficial for an individual participating in an outdoor endurance activity such as running, cross-country skiing, in-line skating, or outdoor swimming to be able to monitor his or her performance in metrics such as speed, distance, slope, elevation, equipment used (thereby correlating an individual's performance to particular running shoes, for example)."
In Apple's 2009 sporting patent application they touch on sensors being built into ski boots and boards. One of the delays that may be holding back the next phase for the Nike + iPod product line, is a legal case now in progress.
Apple's First Claim: A method, comprising: electronically pairing a garment sensor and a garment by way of a first bi-directional communication link, wherein the garment sensor is physically affixed to the garment; tracking garment usage and detecting wear patterns involving the garment using the garment sensor; forming a second bi-directional communication link between the garment sensor and an external database; sending the tracked garment usage and detected wear patterns to the external database; receiving expected useful lifetime information for the garment from the external database, wherein the expected useful lifetime information is based on tracked garment usage and detected wear patterns from a plurality of similar garments; and alerting a user when the garment reaches its expected useful lifetime, based on the received expected useful lifetime information and on the tracked garment usage.
Apple credits Brett Alten and Robert Borchers as the inventors of this patent which was filed for in Q1 2010. See our Sporting Archives for more related patents.
Apple Wins a Patent for the iPhone's Flexible Packaging for Chip-on-Chip and Package-on-Package Technologies
Apple's second granted patent, relates to an invention designed to reduce the size of integrated circuits found in a portable device like an iPhone. Apple states that "in one embodiment, the system may be a mobile device and the peripherals may include devices for various types of wireless communication, such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, cellular, global position system, etc."
Apple's patent FIG. 4 noted above illustrates a view of the package substrate (20) with the application IC (10) flip-chip mounted on the package substrate and with two ICs 50 and 52 (e.g. memory ICs) stacked on the application IC. The ICs 50 and 52 may be stacked in "face up" orientation (e.g. the opposite of the flip-chip orientation of the application IC).
To review Apple's fourteen patent claims and invention detailing, see granted patent 8,097,956. Apple credits Vincent von Kaenel as the sole inventor of this patent which was originally filed in Q1 2009.
Apple Wins a Design Patent
And lastly in our first patent report of the day, we point to Apple being granted a design patent for their iOS calculator icon designed by Freddy Anzures. The design dates back to the original 2007 iPhone. The design on the left illustrates the current calculator icon design.
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.
Here are a Few Sites covering our Original Report: MacSurfer, Twitter, Facebook, Apple Investor News, Google Reader, Macnews, iPhone World Canada, MarketWatch, GigaOM, BGR, Mashable video report, Mophie, Technapedia Toronto Canada, and more.