On November 29, 2012, the US Patent & Trademark Office published patent applications from Apple covering a new haptic alert for a future iPhone along with a series of seven detailed applications regarding new touchscreen technologies that could be applied to iDevices on through to Apple's Cinema Display.
Apple Invents Haptic Alert Device having a Linear Vibrator
Mobile phones have built-in vibrators that produce mechanical vibrations, which are intended to be felt by a user of the mobile phone as an alert or feedback mechanism. The vibrator is part of what is referred to as a haptic alert device or haptic feedback device. In a linear vibrator, a spring-loaded weight is attached to a moving element of a linear electric motor. The motor drives the attached weight back-and-forth, in response to a sinusoidal input drive current. The frequency of the drive current is controlled so that it coincides with a resonant frequency of the spring, weight and motor combination. This enables the driven weight to produce strong vibrations.
When a user taps or abruptly moves a mobile phone that has a conventional linear vibrator, the moveable weight of the vibrator can move back-and-forth by a significant amount. This may give the user who is holding the phone a strange feeling that something is loose, or it may simply produce an undesired sound.
Apple's patent application describes a newly designed vibrator that's to be integrated into a future iPhone as part of a haptic alert system. The haptic device is noted as having a linear electric motor that is coupled to actively drive a moveable weight in back-and-forth directions to produce the desired vibration. A lock mechanism has a restraining member that is biased into a lock position, which prevents the moveable weight from moving in the back-and-forth directions when the vibrator is inactive.
Apple's patent application was filed by inventors Timothy Johnson, Yehonatan Perez, Sawyer Cohen and Ashutosh Shukla in May 2011. To review the specifics of the invention, see patent application 20120302293.
Apple Inventions Relate to New Touchscreen Technologies Extending to iMac & Cinema Display
Today, Apple revealed a series of seven patents regarding new and varied touchscreen technologies and methodologies that could be applied to future iDevices, an iMac (desktop) and "stand-alone display" such as Apple's Cinema Display. The inventions are extremely detailed and cover a wide spectrum of technologies. For the curious, we provide you with a list of Apple's patent applications that were published by the US Patent Office today regarding these new technologies and methods:
20120299983 – Writing Data to Sub-Pixels using Different Write Sequences
20120299971 – Additional Application of Voltage during a Write Sequence
20120299970 - Application of Voltage to Data Lines during Vcom Toggling
20120299803 – Pixel-to-Pixel Coupling in Displays
20120299900 - Scanning Orders in Inversion Schemes of Displays
20120299894 - Pre-Charging of Sub-Pixels
20120299892 - Charging Display Artifacts across Frames
Apple's patent FIG. 1D illustrates an example display screen while patent FIG. 8 is a block diagram of an example computing system that illustrates one implementation of an example display screen.
Today's Continuation Patents
Out of Apple's 25 patent applications that were published today by the US Patent and Trademark Office, eight of them were noted as being older "continuation patents" dating back to between 2006 and 2010. The continuation patents that we list below are specifically referenced as such under the section titled "Cross-Reference to Related Applications" of each patent application. 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:
20120299955 - Interactive Image Thumbnails, filed in 2007
20120299939 - DisplayPort Control, filed in 2008
20120302225 - Remote Control of Electronic Devices, filed in 2009
20120300991 – Image Preprocessing, filed in 2010
20120300383 – Configuring a Magnetic Attachment System, filed in 2010
20120302670 – Carbon Composite Mold Design, filed in 2008
20120304066 - Menu Overlay, Context Dependent Menu Icon, filed in 2006
20120297615 – Handheld Computing Device, filed in 2009
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