Today, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a series of 15 original Apple patent applications. Our first report covered a wild concept that involves a unibody magnetic coating for MacBooks and/or the iPad and our second report covered inertial sensors for future MacBooks and/or Apple's Magic Mouse. In this report we mainly cover a new image sensor assembly for future iDevice cameras and a patent filing that provides us with a lot more detail about the makeup of Apple's new lighting connector that debuted with the iPhone 5.
Apple's Image Sensor Assembly Patent Background
In Apple's invention background they state that electronic image sensors allow images to be captured in electronic form. Such sensors replace film in digital cameras and allow a camera function to be added to a variety of electronic devices such as cellular telephones, computers, and personal digital assistants. Image sensors are generally provided in the form of image sensor assemblies. The light that forms the image must fall on a light receiving surface of an image sensor die to capture the image. Therefore the image sensor die is provided in a package that is covered by a material that allows the image forming light to pass through to the light receiving surface. An image sensor assembly may include the image forming optics or may provide the image sensor to be used with external optics.
The image sensor die is often attached adjacent to a lower end of a cavity in the package. The cavity will often have vertical walls adjacent the image sensor die. Light can strike these vertical walls and be reflected onto the light receiving surface of the image sensor die and degrade the image. This reflected light may cause stray light to be cast toward the edge of the image.
It would be desirable to provide an image sensor assembly that reduces image degradation caused by light reflected from the vertical walls of the package cavity that houses the image sensor die.
Apple's Image Sensor Assembly Solution
Apple's invention relates to the field of electronic image sensors and more specifically, to electronic image sensors with means for attenuating spurious reflected light.
Apple's patent filing states that an image sensor assembly includes an image sensor die attached adjacent to a cavity and a lower surface in a preformed package, such as a ceramic member, having substantially vertical surfaces extending from the lower surface to an upper surface of the package. The image sensor die may include a charge-coupled device or an active pixel sensor imager that provides the light receiving surface for capturing the image. A cover is placed over the upper surface of the package. The cover may be a glass cover or an infrared cut filter. A light absorbing layer is applied to the cover in registry with the image sensor die such that the light absorbing layer prevents light from falling on the substantially vertical surfaces of the preformed package without preventing the passage of light that falls on the light receiving surface of the image sensor die.
Apple's patent FIG. 1 is an exploded view of an image sensor assembly; FIG. 2 is an assembled view of the image sensor assembly of FIG. 1; and FIG. 6 is a section view of yet another image sensor assembly that embodies the invention.
Apple credits Jeffrey Gleason as the sole inventor of patent application 20130175650 which was originally filed in Q1 2012.
Advances Associated with Apple's Lightning Connector
In Apple's patent background they stated that in many applications, repeated insertion of a connector plug into a connector receptacle over time may cause wear and tear on the exposed electrical contacts, resulting in a shortened life span of the connector device. When fabricated with a non-uniform delivery profile, slight differences in the position of each electrical contact may cause unevenly distributed stresses that degrade the performance of the connector. Additionally, an uneven delivery profile between electrical connectors may cause gaps that may result in premature deterioration of the device, accumulation of debris and reduced aesthetic appeal.
In Apple's invention summary they state in-part that embodiments of their present invention provide methods of assembling improved connector plugs that overcome the drawbacks of many conventional connectors devices described above. In one aspect, the invention allows for improved connector plugs having a plurality of electrical contacts with a uniform delivery profile and an improved aesthetic appearance.
In many embodiments, the invention provides a connector plug having a plurality of electrical contacts having exposed top surfaces that are co-planar with each other, and co-planar with a top surface of the connector plug enclosure in which the electrical contacts reside, so as to reduce wear and tear on the electrical contacts during repeated insertion and removal of the plug connector from a corresponding connector receptacle.
Typically, embodiments include methods that allow for soldering of a plurality of electrical contacts into a connector plug enclosure while maintaining co-planarity of the exposed electrical contact surfaces with each other, and typically with the outer connector plug surface. Embodiments also provide means for precisely positioning each of the electrical contacts at desired locations within the connector plug enclosure for soldering within the plug enclosure.
Apple's patent FIG. 1 illustrates a media device and associated data cord, which includes a connector plug that may be assembled using embodiments of the present invention; FIG. 2 illustrates an exemplary connector plug assembled.
To review all of the detailed aspects of patent figures 3A-3E and beyond, see patent application 20130175326. The listed inventors of this patent include Eric Jol, Mathias Schmidt, Edward Siahaan and Albert Golko. Apple originally filed this patent in Q1 2012.
Some of the other patent filings that were published today by USPTO include the following: Streaming Translation in Display Pipe; Multi-tiered Caches in Data Rendering; Luminescence Shock Avoidance in Display Devices; and Integrated Touch Screen which Apple has already received two granted patents for (one, two).
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.