Today, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office published a number of patent applications from Apple that are worth highlighting. We covered two inventions earlier today relating to a new 3D Sessionless Pointing User Interface and another covering ten Apple Watch band inventions. In this report we cover a pair of interesting inventions. The first relates to a new heart rate monitoring process for the Apple Watch that could provide cleaner results while the second one relates to device button and slider mechanisms being reinvented from using mechanical components to those using magnetics technology.
#1 Related to Heart Rate Monitoring: 'Motion Artifact Removal by Time Domain Projection'
Apple's patent application/invention relates to removing motion artifacts from the photoplethysmogram (PPG) signal in the time domain to determine heart rate. A device for determining a heart rate of a user can include a heart rate sensor configured to generate heart rate signals when positioned on or adjacent to a user's skin, an accelerometer configured to generate one or more acceleration signals, and processing circuitry configured to remove, in a time domain, motion artifacts from the heart rate signals based on the acceleration signals. In some examples, the removal of motion artifacts can also be based on mean-centered, variance-scaled integrated acceleration signals. In some examples, the processing circuitry can be configured to remove motion artifacts using a least squares algorithm to identify a best representation of acceleration and integrated acceleration signals in the heart rate signals.
Apple's patent FIG. 2 illustrates an exemplary block diagram of functional units that can be contained within or controlled by a processor; FIG. 7 illustrates time domain techniques for determining heart rate information from a PPG signal. For more on this, review patent application 20160038045 here.
#2 Related to New Button & Slider Mechanisms: 'Mechanisms having a Magnetic Latch and Tactile Feedback'
Apple's invention generally relates to mechanisms having one or more magnets, and more specifically, to mechanisms that use one or more magnets to create a latch or produce an appropriate tactile response.
Traditionally, a latch, lock or push button mechanism includes one or more components that are configured to mechanically engage each other to perform the respective function. Apple's invention changes that process and describes various mechanisms using one or more pairs of magnets to generate a force that provides tactile feedback and/or a latching force for the mechanism.
In some embodiments, one or more pairs of magnets may be used to generate a specific tactile response that may mimic the response of a traditional purely mechanical system.
The invention could one day apply to every Apple product from Macs to keyboards to parts of the iPhone and beyond. Examples Apple provides covers the SIM Card tray using a magnetic based lock, keys on keyboard and Apple's Home Button but to name a few. The advantage is that locking mechanisms and buttons have more moving parts that could break down whereas the use of magnets simply functionality. The design applies to sliding mechanisms or buttons as well.
In respect to keyboard key having using a magnetic catch configuration, Apple notes the following: "After the key is pressed passed a certain point, the attraction between the magnets may dominate and reduce the resistance significantly through the rest of the key stroke. This may result in a positive snap or click as the key reaches the bottom of the key stroke, which may indicate to the user that the actuation is complete."
Apple's patent FIG. 1 depicts an example device having an example slide mechanism and an example button mechanism; FIGS. 8A and 8B depict an example keyboard key mechanism having a magnetic latch configuration.
Although Apple doesn't break out an example in the patent application for the Apple Watch band locking and sliding mechanisms, the invention would certainly apply to such in some ways regarding at least the magnetics. Interestingly, this application was among at least ten Apple inventions published today by USPTO regarding attachment systems for the Apple Watch. For more on this, review patent application 20160042897 here.
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