Two years ago during a WWDC keynote segment by Craig Federighi, he delighted us with his humor and introduction of AirDrop. He humorously mocked Samsung's need to tap two smartphones together in order to share information or photos. While AirDrop is the right interface for the iPhone, it would be a little overwhelming on the Apple Watch. So Apple has filed a patent application covering another idea on how Apple Watch users will be able to share personal or professional contact information and/or other kinds of data using a fun new set of gestures using the watch's accelerometer and other sensors to pull it off. One of them is fist-bumping. Apple's new European patent filing also reveals other features that could be coming to the Apple Watch in the future.
Apple introduces us to the "Greeting Event"
Apple's latest invention generally relates to wearable electronic devices like the new Apple Watch and in particular to exchanging information like contact information and more between watches of two different users that are in proximity to each other. The exchange of information can be wholly or partially automated and can occur in response to a device detecting a "greeting event."
In some embodiments, a greeting event is detected when two user devices belonging to different users are in proximity and the users of the devices concurrently execute a greeting gesture, such as a handshake, bow, hand slap, hug, or the like.
In response to detecting a greeting event, a "sending" device can select particular information items to be sent based on contextual information available to the sending device. In various embodiments, contextual information can include information about the sending device (e.g., current location, access to particular networks or other resources); information about the user of the sending device (e.g., the user's current scheduled or actual activity); information about the "receiving" device to which the information is to be sent (e.g., device identifier, device type, identity of the user of the receiving device, record of previous interactions with the receiving device); and/or other information that may be available to the sending device.
In some embodiments, sharing of information items in response to a greeting event can be further managed by the user after the fact. For instance, a sending device can generate a cryptographic key and can use the key to encrypt any or all of the information items that it sends to the receiving device in response to a greeting event.
The sending device can communicate the key and an identifier of the receiving device to a server that is accessible to the users of both user devices. At a later time, the users of both devices can access the server (independently of each other) and indicate whether they want to exchange information. If both users agree to the exchange, the server can send the appropriate keys to the receiving parties, allowing the received data to be decrypted and accessed.
In some embodiments, in response to detecting a greeting event, a user device can generate or update a content item that documents or announces the event, e.g., a microblog post or status update on a social network, a journal entry for the user's journal, etc.
The mutual detection of greeting gestures can trigger the exchange of any type of information including user contact information, other personal information, photos, audio files, video files, data files, and so on.
New Apple Watch Greeting Gestures
The greeting gestures shown in Apple's patent Fig. 3 below are intended to be illustrative and not limiting. A greeting gesture can include any gesture that brings two users' wearable devices into proximity and that incorporates a distinctive acceleration or movement of the wearable device.
Gestures can include users making contact with each other (e.g., shaking hands, slapping hands, bumping fists, hugging while patting the other person's back) or not (e.g., bowing, waving, saluting).
The distinctive acceleration or movement can be defined so as to be reliably detected and recognized as a deliberate greeting gesture, and incorporating gesture recognition as well as proximity constraints can help reduce false positives where devices
Apple notes that "In some embodiments, the same user (e.g., user #302 in FIG. 3) can perform different greeting gestures at different times, e.g., shaking hands with a boss, culturally bowing to a customer, high--fiving a friend. A wearable device (e.g., wearable device #306) can be configured to recognize any number of different greeting gestures and to identify which greeting gesture was performed on a particular occasion." Additionally, "different greeting gestures can trigger sharing of different sharable data objects.
Apple interestingly adds that "if the device can recognize a natural greeting gesture, exchange of sharable data objects can automatically occur without any user action beyond the making of the gesture. In such instances, the user need not give thought to asking for or providing the information that is automatically exchanged. As another example, users may agree between themselves to exchange information and then perform the appropriate greeting gesture to trigger the exchange."
Technically, Apple notes that each of the wearable devices (#306 and #308 can detect its proximity to the other (e.g., using Bluetooth LE or NFC-based proximity sensors), and each can detect the acceleration it experiences (e.g., using internal accelerometers). Further, each of the wearable devices can communicate with the other (e.g., using Bluetooth, NFC, Wi-Fi, or other wireless communication channels) to verify that the other device experienced similar acceleration. Thus, each of the wearable devices can detect a greeting event based on a combination of proximity to the other device and the experience of similar accelerations.
Apple's patent Fig. 5 presented below shows us a decision tree that can be used to select data objects.
Apple notes that people who meet at a work-related event typically exchange work contact information (e.g., name, work email address, work phone number, URL or other address of work-related website), while people who meet at non-work-related event typically exchange personal contact information (e.g., name, personal email address, home phone number, username or handle on a social media service). To the extent that the context information available to wearable device supports a determination of the type of event the user is attending, the wearable device can select data objects that mirror these preferences.
As an example, in the work-related context (branch 504 of FIG. 5 above), any greeting event can trigger sharing of work-related information, in this case work vCard #510. As used herein, "vCard" refers to a generally known format that is an e-business card format for providing contact information that includes a company name and logo, a person's name, job title, a mailing address, a street address and so forth. Other formats and combinations of information items can be substituted, and the use of vCards is not required.
In certain social events the exchange of data could include Facebook and/or LinkedIn information.
Managing Access to Encrypted Shared Data
Apple's patent Fig. 10 presented below illustrates a user interface screen that can be used to manage access to encrypted shared data objects.
Overview of a New Apple Watch Architecture
As noted in FIG.1 above, the greeting event could include one device being a smartphone/iPhone. Apple's patent FIG. 2 is an overview of the updated Apple Watch architecture covering the "info sharing" subsystem that's behind the new "greeting event" feature.
Apple Watch Camera(s)
According to this latest patent filing on the Apple Watch, Apple makes it clear that a camera will be coming to the device in the future. The Apple Watch architecture noted in FIG. 2 above shows the camera under the user interface as component #229. The camera will offer autofocus. In some embodiments, Apple states that the watch could be disposed along an edge of watch and/or as part of the face member. According to Apple "Zero, one, or more cameras can be provided, depending on implementation."
Apple further notes that the camera can be disposed along an edge of face member #104 of FTG. 1 noted above. Apple adds that the top edge can be oriented to allow a user to capture images of nearby objects in the environment such as a bar code or QR code. In other embodiments, the camera can be disposed on the front surface of face member 104, e.g., to capture images of the user.
Possible Future Apple Watch Audio Jack
According to this future Apple Watch architecture noted in FIG. 2, there could be an audio jack coming to Apple Watch sometime in the future. Apple states that "In some embodiments, user interface #206 can provide output to and/or receive input from an auxiliary device such as a headset." Apple adds that "In some embodiments, a wireless connection interface can be used to communicate with an auxiliary device."
Possible New Wearable Devices Beyond the Watch
And lastly, Apple notes that user devices can include any device that a user can wear on their person or carry with her during daily activities. Examples include wearable devices that users can attach to their person or clothing. For example, a wearable device can be designed as a watch, a ring, a bracelet, a necklace, or any other jewelry item; an item of eyewear (e.g., eyeglasses); a headband; a belt, a shoe, a scarf a vest, or any other article of clothing; and so on. In some instances, a wearable device can have a clip, clasp, or other attachment structure that facilitates attachment of the device to the user's clothing.
Patently Apple discovered this patent application in Europe on Thursday June 25, 2015, the day it was officially published. One of the inventors noted on the filing is Eugene Dvortsov who worked on another intelligent pairing patent that was granted to Apple back in January 2014. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.
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