On October 3, 2013, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a series of 13 original patent applications from Apple. Once again there were no knock-out patent filings published today like a smartwatch or fingerprint scanner, but there were a few invention enhancement patents worth noting. One relates to enhancing future iDevice protective mechanisms that will assist iDevices in free fall. Another enhancement covers the iPhone's active noise cancellation function. Today's patent application summary report provides you with specifics behind Apple's key invention enhancements while providing you with links to a number of other interesting patents published today that relate to matters such as cryptographic operations and enhanced velocity estimations for touch inputs and much more.
Apple Enhances their Protective Mechanisms for Future Portable Devices
Apple's patent covers a series of newly proposed protective mechanisms designed for future iDevices and MacBooks that will protect these devices that are about to fall to the floor or other surface. The invention for a protective mechanism is configured to selectively alter a center of mass of the electronic device. One design covers the use of an air foil while another covers the ejection of the battery in order to reduce device damage. Apple has come up with quite an elaborate design.
Apple's first patent application on this was published by USPTO in March and you could see more of the patent figures and details of the invention in our original report.
What's new in Apple's latest patent filing is the expansion of their patent claims from an original 15 to the current 36. Apple adds coverage for the processor working with a sensor to detect free falls and more importantly, adds patent claims and a new segment to the invention by way of introducing their integration of a "proportional-Integral-Derivative" controller or PID.
Apple Adds a Proportional-Integral-Derivative Controller to their Invention
The one key addition to Apple's invention relating to future protective mechanisms involves adding a Proportional-Integral-Derivative Controller or PID and a feedback control loop.
Apple states that in some embodiments, a feedback control loop may be implemented to control to a motor configured to alter the angular momentum. The feedback control loop may determine that the motor should be driven, stopped or reversed, as well as the speed of the motor.
Generally, the feedback loop may include a kinematic system that receives input from one or more sensors or devices configured to provide data for determining metrics related to a fall event. For example, the data may be used to determine a fall height, a gravity vector or other orientation relative to ground, a rate of rotation, a degree of inclination from a plane, and so forth.
Further, the data may be used to determine the effectiveness of attempts to alter the angular momentum of the device. The feedback loop may help to achieve a desired impact orientation for the device. In one example, the feedback loop may take the form of a Proportional-Integral-Derivative (PID) controller. In some embodiments, an integral portion of the PID controller may be omitted or both the integral and derivative portions may be omitted. As such, in some embodiments, a Proportional controller may be implemented.
The kinematic calculator may take any suitable form and any feedback loop can be used including but not limited to a proportional integral derivative (PID) controller. Generally, a PID controller consists of three distinct parts which heuristically determine present error, past error, and predicted future error. The proportional term spins the motor in proportion the current distance from its position to the ideal angle of impact orientation, while a derivative term changes the motor's speed based on the expected future position of the device to minimize how much the device overshoots its angular position target.
The PID controller may generally be configured to determine how to operate the motor effectively to achieve steady state operation. That is, the PID controller may be configured to prevent over and/or under rotating the device. As such, in some embodiments it may be configured to determine and track the effectiveness of the motor on the device (e.g., how effective was operation of the motor for reorienting the device presently).
Alternatively, gyroscopic feedback may be used to determine how well the motor reoriented the device. Additionally, the PID controller may control operation of the motor in a predictive manner. The PID controller may be configured to brake the motor and/or reverse the direction in which the motor spins in bi-directional motors. Reversing the motor may alter the angular momentum in the opposite fashion, thereby maintaining an orientation of the device with respect to ground, slowing over-rotation and/or reversing the direction of rotation.
A determination is made as to an expect orientation at impact. Based on an expect impact orientation, the kinematic controller decides if the vibrator should be activated, at what speed, and in which direction. Some of the inputs that may be used by the algorithm include, but are not limited to: freefall state of the device; orientation of the device; orientation of the device relative to magnetic north; distance of the device to the ground; orientation of the device relative to the ground; location of the device; location of the sun; time; orientation of the device relative to the environment; rotational velocity of the device; distance to the ground and so forth.
Sensors that may provide these inputs may include: an accelerometer; a gyroscope; a magnetometer; a speaker; a microphone; one or more cameras; a GPS device; and a clock or timer.
More details on this invention could be found in Apple's latest patent application under number 20130257582. The inventors of this patent are noted as Fletcher Rothkopf, Colin Ely and Stephen Lynch.
Apple Enhances their Active Noise Cancellation Feature
Apple's first patent application regarding active noise cancellation was granted to them in April of this year. In Apple's latest patent application, we see that Apple has already enhanced their granted patent.
When it comes finding the enhancements, the truism of the devil is in the details most certainly applies. In this case, the enhancements include expanding their patent claims to protect their invention from 12 to 23. The key enhancements found in today's patent filing include the additon of pre-shaping" and "adaptable FIR" filters along with adding the iPhone to the claims list for added protection.
Apple Adds Pre-Shaping Filter T
Apple notes that the results of an Active Noise Cancelation (ANC) process, in terms of improved quality of noise reduction perceived by a user of a portable audio device in which the ANC process is running, may be improved by properly configuring a pre-shaping filter (also referred to as a biasing or tweak filter, T) that is placed in series with and in front of the reference microphone input of the adaptive filter W.
According to Apple, the pre-shaping filter T may be particularly effective in situations where the adaptive filter W does not have sufficient frequency precision to produce the needed anti-noise signal for reducing noise in an audio frequency band below about 375 Hz. The lack of precision of the constrained adaptive filter W below 400 Hz coupled with a roll off in the response of an earpiece speaker below 250 Hz, presents a problem for the effectiveness of the ANC process in low frequency bands. Accordingly, there is a need for an ANC system that has sufficient low frequency resolution so as to produce a reasonably effective anti-noise signal below 400 Hz, while being able to meet other constraints including limited FIR filter size for the adaptive filter W.
Apple also notes that ANC circuitry is enhanced by the addition of a non-adaptive digital pre-shaping filter T whose input is coupled to the sampled output of the reference microphone, and where the filter T is in series with and in front of the adaptive digital filter W. The filter W is to be adjusted by an adaptive filter controller based on input from a desired audio signal, the reference microphone, and the error microphone, while it generates an anti-noise signal that is input to the earpiece speaker in order to control the background sound that is heard by a user of the portable audio device. The filter T is configured to be minimum phase and to present at least two dB more gain over a low audio frequency band than over a high audio frequency band. In one embodiment, the extra gain is constrained to between 2 dB-15 dB, and more particularly between 2 dB-10 dB.
Simulation results show that the pre-shaping filter T extends the effective audio bandwidth of the ANC process at the low end, without worsening the characteristics at the high end. The filter T may be viewed as "biasing" the ANC process, so that, in a magnitude sense, it has a component that counteracts the roll off of the speaker, by for example exhibiting a gain boost or positive gain in the low audio frequency band, e.g. 10 Hz-100 Hz. At the same time, the filter T introduces as little phase change (delay) as possible in the signal processing path from the reference microphone to the speaker and then on to the user's ear (or the error microphone). This path is close to being non-causal due to the short physical distance between the reference microphone and the user's ear, and hence may not tolerate a long delay in producing the anti-noise.
Another miniscule change to the invention includes Apple's claim number 11 which describes the adaptive digital filter being a "Finite impulse response (FIR) filter."
More details on this invention could be found in Apple's latest patent application under number 20130259250. The inventors of this patent are noted as Guy Nicholson and Thomas Jensen.
Manufacturing Process Patent: Methods and Apparatus for Modifying Surface Energy of a Substrate
Every once in a while it's interesting to read about a new Apple manufacturing process so that we could see the extent of Apple's passion to make their products better – even though the public will never know about Apple's attention to detail. Yet, it's one of the processes that Apple fans revel in. We love to read about what Jony Ive's and his team of fanatical designers are up to. Today we learn about another process that Apple has added to enhance their manufacturing process.
In Apple's patent background they state that "Various manufacturing processes rely on an ability of an adhesive or other bonding agent to securely affix various substances together securely without leaving any gaps between the bonded parts. For example, a depressible key pad can be formed by bonding two flexible substrates together using an adhesive that acts as a spacer. The spacer can separate a set of electrical contacts mounted on the substrates until the key is depressed by a user. Any gaps between the adhesive and the substrates can allow moisture and other substances to come into contact with the electrical contacts. This can adversely affect the ability of the keypad to send an electrical signal to a processor during normal operation."
Apple's solution involves their invention that generally relates to the manufacturing of consumer electronics and computing devices, and more particularly to providing mechanisms that modify the surface energy of a substrate to facilitate the forming of a bond between disparate materials.
In one embodiment, the surface energy of a polyester substrate can be enhanced by exposing a surface of the polyester substrate to a plasma formed from approximately 90% atmospheric air, 5% carbon dioxide, and 5% argon.
In another embodiment, contaminants can be removed from the surface of the polyester substrate and the surface energy of the substrate can be increased by exposing the polyester substrate first to an argon plasma etching process and second to a plasma formed from approximately 95% atmospheric air and 5% carbon dioxide.
About Apple's Patent Figures: Apple's patent FIG. 8 shows us an isometric view of a surface preparation and etching device including a knife edge nozzle; FIG. 9 shows us a system for removing contaminants from and raising the surface energy of a substrate in a manufacturing environment: and FIG. 10 shows us a flow chart describing a process for increasing the surface energy of a substrate and performing a bonding operation.
More details on this invention could be found in Apple's latest patent application under number 20130256269. The sole inventor of this patent is noted as Michael Nikkhoo.
Methods and Apparatus for Correlation Protected Processing of Cryptographic Operations
Apple's invention relates generally to cryptographic processing. More particularly, this invention relates to protecting against data correlation based attacks for performing cryptographic operations. For more details about Apple's invention, see Apple's patent application 20130259226.
Enhancing Touch Input
Apple's invention is a technical one relating to the enhancement touch input and more specifically to improving velocity estimations of a touch input using data from sensors. For more details about Apple's invention, see Apple's patent application 20130257807.
GUI for Integrating Recognition of Handwriting Gestures with a Screen Reader
Apple's invention general relates to electronic devices for people with impaired vision, and more particularly, to electronic devices that provide accessibility using a touch-sensitive surface, such as a touch screen display or a track pad. For more details about Apple's invention, see Apple's patent application number 20130263251.
A few of Apple's other mildly interesting patent applications published today relate to sealed graphite pouches associated with protecting computer components from heat and another invention that relates to unique methods of manufacturing retail packaging for products such as Apple's iPad and iPad Smart Case.
A Word about Continuation Patents
It should be noted that the US Patent and Trademark Office did in fact publish a series of older continuation patents today dating back to between 2007 and 2012. The continuation patents listed below are specifically referenced as such under the section titled "Cross-Reference to Related Applications."
Generally speaking, this type of patent application contains modifications that Apple's legal team have made to the original patent claims in an effort to have the US Patent Office finally approve their invention. In general continuation patents don't represent any new developments from the original patent filing.
Some websites mistakenly report on continuation patents as if they were new Apple filings to which they are not. Here are the older continuation patents that were published today by the US Patent Office:
1. 2007 20130256346: Armband for Holding an Electronic Device
2. 2010 20130256108: Legend Highlighting
3. 2012 20130260615: Connector Receptacle with Slide Ground Contacts
4. 2011 20130260833: Service Provider Activation
5. 2007 20130262993: Portable Multifunction Device, Method, and Graphical User Interface for Interacting with User Input Elements in Displayed Content
A Note for Tech Sites Covering our Report: We ask tech sites covering our report to kindly limit the use of our graphics to one image. Thanking you in advance for your cooperation.
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.
New on Patent Bolt this Week