On June 21, 2012, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a series of utility centric patent applications from Apple that cover security, display luminance, flash memory, mobile device simulation and more. In the big picture, the vast majority of Apple's annual patent-count is derived from utility patents. These are the kinds of patents that take care of all the tiniest of details behind Apple's most popular products, processes and manufacturing. They might not represent the visionary side of Apple, but they sure keep the trains running on time. They're also part of Apple's legendary and fanatical detailing process that goes into every upgrade and next generation product. On the flipside, we sure hope that Apple's creative and visionary side reemerges because the volume of patents of late in that area have been nothing shy of anemic. Here's to hoping that Apple is in the process of changing gears and inventing their next generation of knock-out products for us to enjoy.
Apple's Security Centric Patents
Patent Title: Securing the Implementation of a Cryptographic Process using Key Expansion
Patent Abstract: In the field of computer enabled cryptography, such as a keyed block cipher having a plurality of rounds, the cipher is hardened against an attack by protecting the cipher key by means of a key expansion process which obscures the cipher and/or the round keys by increasing their lengths to provide an expanded version of the keys for carrying out encryption or decryption using the cipher. This is especially advantageous in a "White Box" environment where an attacker has full access to the cipher algorithm, including the algorithm's internal state during its execution. This method and the associated computing apparatus are useful where the key is derived through a process and so is unknown when the software code embodying the cipher is compiled. This is typically the case where there are many users of the cipher and each has his own key, or where each user session has its own key. View this patent.
Patent Title: Securing Keys of a Cipher using Properties of the Cipher Process
Patent Abstract: In the field of computer enabled cryptography, such as a block cipher, the cipher is hardened against an attack by protecting the cipher key, by applying to it a predetermined linear permutation before using one key to encrypt or decrypt a message. This is especially advantageous in a "White Box" environment where an attacker has full access to the cipher algorithm, including the algorithm's internal state during its execution. This method and the associated computing apparatus are useful where the key is derived through a process and so is unknown when the software code embodying the cipher is compiled. This is typically the case where there are many users of the cipher and each has his own key, or where each user session has its own key. View this patent.
Apple's Utility Patents
Patent Title: Patio-Temporal Color Luminance Dithering Techniques
Patent Abstract: Systems and methods are disclosed to enable the creation and the display of spatio-temporal dithered images. Embodiments include techniques that use color-shifting and luminance. In one embodiment, adjacent pixels are color-shifted with respect to each other and the color values of the adjacent pixels are temporally alternated with color values of pixels in the group. In another embodiment, the luminance of group of adjacent pixels is determined and the luminance of the group is made more homogenous spatially and temporally by distributing color variations over a larger number of pixels so as to reduce the luminance difference between the pixel with the least luminance and the pixel with the greatest luminance. Individual color components (e.g., red, green, blue) may also be separated and used so that the color-shifts associated with each color component may be simultaneously present in different pixels. View this patent.
Patent Title: Luminance-Based Dithering Technique
Abstract: Systems and methods are disclosed to enable the creation and the display of dithered images. Embodiments include techniques that use the relationship between the luminance and the color of a source image as a dithering heuristic. In one embodiment, the luminance and the color of a source image is determined. Each color of the source image is approximated to the nearest hardware color level. The hardware color level is then varied to more closely approximate the luminance of the source image. Any color errors introduced by approximating the luminance of the source image are then diffused to adjacent pixels. View this patent.
Patent Title: Systems and Methods for Streaming Compressed Files via a Non-Volatile Memory (Flash Memory Patent)
Patent Abstract: This can relate to streaming compressed files via a non-volatile memory ("NVM") of a media player. In particular, the NVM can stream compressed media files. The NVM can include an NVM controller and an NVM die storing the compressed media file. The NVM controller can read the compressed media file from the NVM die, decompress the media file, and send the decompressed media file to a digital-to-analog converter ("DAC") for conversion to analog format. Since the decompression can be performed by the NVM itself, an application processor may be significantly removed from the media playback process. In some embodiments, it may only be necessary for the application processor to issue an initial read request and/or receive a completion confirmation from the NVM. This can result in significant power savings for the media player and can free the application processor for performing other functions of the media player. View this patent.
Patent Title: Mobile Hardware and Network Environment Simulation
Patent Abstract: The present technology provides an ability to simulate the performance of mobile content in a more realistic testing environment than previously available. Specifically, the present technology can mimic the fluctuations in network states that mobile devices typically experience. As the mobile content is tested using the simulated network states, the present technology can record the performance of the mobile content and create a log of the performance. Further, the present technology can also analyze the mobile content performance log and recommend various optimizations to increase the performance of the content. View this patent.
Patent Title: Automatic Discovery of Metadata
Patent Abstract: This is directed to processing stored data to automatically generate metadata for the stored data. In particular, this is directed to identifying metadata associated with stored data, and identifying other data that relates to the stored data from one or more sources. A processing module can identify other data sharing some of the identified metadata, and can extract additional metadata associated with the identified other data. The extracted metadata can then be associated with the user's stored data. The processing module can extract additional metadata from any suitable source, including for example local application data, social networks or blogging sources, and other remote sources. In some embodiments, an electronic device can retrieve data from other users for a particular event based on metadata associated with the user's data for the event to form a master collection of data.
According to Apple's patent application, some metadata can be automatically associated with media items by the device used to generate the media item or by a device used to view the media item. For example, some metadata can be identified based on the output of sensors associated with the device used to generate the media item. Such metadata can include, for example, location, orientation, time, temperature, or vibration/movement metadata. Other metadata can include, for example, metadata
retrieved from the content of the media item. Such metadata can include, for example, color, texture, face detection, image recognition output, and voice recognition metadata. For more information, view this patent.
In addition to the seven new patent applications presented in today's report, the US Patent and Trademark Office did publish a series of older continuation patents dating back to between 2006 and 2011. The continuation patents that we list below are specifically referenced as such under the section titled "Cross-Reference to Related Applications." Generally speaking, continuation patents represent tweaks made to patent claims in an effort to get the patents granted by the USPTO and don't represent any noteworthy new development from the original patent filing. Here are today's continuation patents should you wish to review them:
A 2009 Continuation Patent: Magnetometer Accuracy and Use. View this patent. We covered this patent here and here; A 2010 Continuation Patent: High Speed Connector inserts and cables. View this patent. See our report that covers the same technology.
Other Continuation Patents Include: 2009 – Method and System for charging a Series of Batteries; 2006 – Framework for Graphics Animation and Compositing Operations; 2006 – Use of Alternative Value in Cell Detection; and 2007 – Enhancements to Data-Driven Media Management within an Electronic Device
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. About Comments: Patently Apple reserves the right to post, dismiss or edit comments.
Sites Covering our Original Report
MacSurfer, Twitter, Facebook, Apple Investor News, Google Reader, Macnews, iPhone World Canada, Accelerate Your Mac, CNET, and more.