On August 22, 2013, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a series of 20 original patent applications from Apple today excluding 12 continuation patents. In this report we cover four mildly interesting inventions. The first details Apple's lightning connector exhaustively. The second covers automating Apple's iPhone status sharing feature so users won't have to set it up in the future. A third patent covers a new injection molding system for creating parts for Apple iDevices faster and cost effectively. And lastly we link you to a new patent application covering technology relating to the next iPhone cellular standard that's in the works called LTE-Advanced.
1. Dual Orientation Connector with External Contacts
Apple's Lightning connector is a proprietary computer bus and power connector designed to replace its previous proprietary 30-pin dock connector, intended to connect mobile devices like iPhones to host computers. Using eight pins instead of thirty, Lightning is significantly more compact than the 30-pin dock connector and can be inserted with either side facing up.
Apple introduced the new connector in concert with the new iPhone 5 in September 2012. It's also currently used in Apple's iPod Touch (5th generation), the iPod Nano (7th generation), the iPad (4th generation), and the iPad Mini.
This is a very technically detailed patent for those wanting to know everything under the lighting connector umbrella. It's certainly not a consumer friendly patent filing to read. But if you want to take a peek at this patent with a whopping 218 patent points, see Apple's patent which was filed in November 2012.
Noted above are patent illustrations for the lightning connector cable, Apple's In-Ear headphones with lightning and a future docking station supportng the lighting connector.
2. Future iPhone Status Sharing Feature Revealed
Today, people carry their iPhones to meetings, use them out of the office, in social situations, and in other settings where wireless communication is needed. Incoming voice calls to mobile devices can be intrusive under certain situations. It's therefore desirable to allow iPhone owners to screen calls and decide in advance whether the calls warrant answering.
Caller ID service is conventionally available to provide a smartphone owner with limited information about a call for call screening purposes, with the owner usually having very few options to manage the call. In particular, for most owners, the only available actions are to accept the call or decline it by either not answering or allowing an answering machine or voice mail system to respond. The caller in such cases has no control over whether or not the call will be accepted.
More advanced Caller ID services can provide the smartphone owner with limited interaction with the caller to assist the call screening process, thereby giving both the caller and the callee more control over the call. However, despite the limited interaction, the caller still has no effective way of knowing when the callee is willing to accept their call.
There are models and mechanisms such as those defined by the presence and availability management (PAM) standards that allow a caller to discover the willingness of a callee to receive a call. PAM provides a set of APIs that a caller's mobile application software can use to check for the availability of a callee. However, the PAM only provides what a user of a mobile phone provides such as online, offline, in a meeting, etc. The PAM does not specifically provide the current status or operating mode of the mobile phone.
Apple's new iPhone related patent reveals a new mechanism that will allow users to share the operating status or states of their mobile phones. Instead of the conventional presence and availability typically set by the users, the mobile phones automatically share the actual operating status or states of the mobile phones (rather than the users) based on user sharing policies.
According to one embodiment, when a first mobile phone is running, the first mobile phone is to automatically report the actual operating status, states, and/or conditions of the first mobile phone to a predetermined server in a cellular network.
Apple states that if the remote mobile phone is operating in vibration mode, a user of the local mobile phone may interpret that the user of the second mobile phone does not want to be called upon. In this example, the local user may defer calling or send an email or a text instead.
Similarly, if the RSSI (Recieved Signal Strength Indicator) indicates that the remote mobile phone is in an area that does not have a good reception, the local user may decide not to call.
Other scenarios may also applied here and to review them, see Apple's patent which was originally filed in February 2012.
3. A new Process Patent Covering a Method & Apparatus for Molding Parts
Apple's patent relates to a new injection molding process. Injection molding, and injection molding plastic parts in particular, has become a very cost effective method for quickly manufacturing parts. Typically, a single plastic resin is selected and prepared for injection into the mold. The result is a plastic part with uniform physical properties.
a designer may want a first section or region of a part to have a first amount of stiffness, and a second section of the part to have a second amount of stiffness. Single shot injection molding typically only provides uniform physical properties throughout the entire part. On the other hand, a two shot process can introduce a second material (providing a second physical property) but with added cycle time, and therefore, added cost.
Apple's invention provides a cost effective way to produce an injection molded part with non-uniform material characteristics in a shorter process. For those amongst us that appreciate the manufacturing process, check out Apple's latest patent for details.
Apple's patent FIG. 1 shows one embodiment of an injection molding system; FIG 4 shows an exemplary injection molded part.
A New LTE-Advanced Technology Patent Surfaces
One last patent we'll point you to covers the coming iPhone cellular standard LTE-Advanced. For those interested in LTE-Advanced technology, check out Apple's patent here.
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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.
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