There have been rumors about a new Touch ID sensor this month and today two patent applications from Apple surface concerning updates to Apple's new fingerprint feature. The first generally relates to circuits that may be used to support fingerprint sensing, including boost circuits, such as inductive boost circuits. The second relates to circuits and packaging for fingerprint sensors.
Only a few Apple inventions per week out of dozens filed present fresh ideas of things to come. Today we published an interesting one about future iWallet security features. Beyond this main invention, we noticed a few other inventions that might interest a few Apple fans. In March Apple was sued in a class action lawsuit by the blind and we pointed out how Apple has done more for the disabled than any other tech company. Then a report in July surfaced about how the disabled wanted Apple to do more for them. Today, two new inventions have come to light that will assist the disabled in different ways at some point in the future on both iDevices and Macs. Another hot topic of late has been the EU's blind attack on Apple regarding In-App transactions. Today a new patent application surfaces that covers the inner workings of Apple's In-App program. And lastly, another invention was published today covering more about Apple's Touch ID fingerprint enrollment feature.
On July 31, 2014, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals new security control features for their future iWallet application. The new security system will work with an iPhone and Apple's iTunes Store on a Mac. The controls will allow parents to set boundaries for spending and track all purchases. Apple's patent also introduces us to the digital wallet processing engine. Last week a new rumor surfaced that discussed Apple's iWallet working with Visa's Digital Solutions sometime in the next year. Whether Apple's iWallet will make it to the iPhone 6 is unknown at this time.
Apple's Lightning connector is a proprietary power connector that was designed to replace their previous proprietary 30-pin dock connector, used to connect Apple mobile devices like iPhones, iPads and iPods to host computers and so forth. Lightning is significantly more compact and can be inserted with either side facing up. While Lightning is recognized as a connector advancement for mobile devices, the European Parliament recently ruled that Apple must use the Micro-USB Standard Port for European iDevices by 2017. Today, an Apple patent has surfaced describing a newly invented reversible USB connector with the very same convenience as Lightning. Whether Apple's invention will satisfy the EU Commission is unknown at this time - though I wouldn't count on it.
There's a reason most cheap in-ear headphones sound the way they do – they only use one driver in each ear, which limits the audio range. To get more life, more spaciousness, and more oomph out of your favorite tracks, dual-driver earbuds are the answer and Apple has offered In-Ear headphones with dual-drives for some time. A dual-driver design is also especially good for listening to high-quality audio from lossless rips, to HD videos and other high-bitrate sources. In a new patent application published today by USPTO we see Apple describing possible changes to the internal audio design as well as talk about a three-way driver for the first time. According to Apple, their new invention relates to earphones or earbuds that have multiple speaker drivers and a cross-over network.
Back in 2009 Patently Apple posted a report titled "Apple TV to Take Sporting Events to a Whole New Level" which covered a sophisticated heart rate monitor and other highly advanced sporting event based monitoring sensors. The technology that Apple acquired could one day be a part of a "Body Area Network" that was introduced by Dr. Topol back in 2010. While Apple slightly tweaked this patent in 2013, we see today that Apple has submitted a continuation to this crucial patent by changing only the patent claims, in fact, all of the patent claims. Apple's first patent and claims focused on a "Personal Items Network." Apple's latest patent application published today by USPTO carrying the same title, has a new set of patent claims focused on a communication module whereby two devices could be synced together. Considering that Apple has just released their developer HealthKit that is likely to be followed by a possible new health related device this fall, Apple revisiting this patent at this time is important to note.
On July 24, 2014, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple titled "Liquid Activated Failsafe for Portable Computing Devices. Apple's invention generally relates to computing devices such as next generation MacBooks incorporating new failsafe mechanisms that are designed to prevent electrical shorts in the event that it comes in contact with any liquid.
In early 2013 we reported that Apple had recruited a former senior researcher at LG Display, Dr. Lee Jeung-jil, who was in charge of researching OLED printing technology. So it's obvious that Apple is staying on top of this technology so that they can bring this to market when the time is right. To date Apple has several OLED inventions on record (One, two and three). Apple's current invention clearly acknowledges that OLED has better contrast ratios compared to LCDs while continuing to invent supporting technologies to correct certain OLED weaknesses and/or to fine tune the technology for specific applications or devices. Today's patent application relates to processes for realizing a variable optical path length for one or more microcavities in an AMOLED display. In the shorter term, we reported earlier this week that Apple placed orders for new power reducing Oxide LCD Displays for next year's iPad Air.
There have been rumors of an improved fingerprint sensor in the works for the iPhone 6 and perhaps the next versions of the iPad of late. The rumors hinted that Apple's next batch of fingerprint sensors would be more durable than the Touch ID home button on current iPhones. Today, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple titled "Finger Sensor including Encapsulating Layer over Sensing Area and related Methods" that may very well support the latest rumors. According to the patent filing, the improved biometric sensor could advantageously have the ability to reduce packaging while providing mechanical robustness.
The US Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 40 newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today. In this particular report we cover a key patent for future flexible displays. We wrap up this week's granted patent report with our traditional listing of the remaining granted patents that were issued to Apple today.
On July 17, 2014, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple titled "Infrared Sensors for Electronic Devices." This is a new application and not one that is a continuation patent. I say this because the iPhone having infrared sensors really isn't new. The feature that shuts off the iPhone's touchscreen when a user's ear touches the display isn't new. So what is new? What's new in this filing is that Apple wants to combine sensors and add new ones like a bolometer and a new dimension to their existing infrared sensor so that it could measure blackbody light. This will better measure the temperature of external objects such as a user's head or hand. This will provide consumers with the ability to use new "motion commands" that don't require touching the display. And considering that the invention could be used in conjunction with "portable devices such as wrist-watch devices, pendant devices, or other wearable or miniature devices," motion commands to control various features on an iWatch would be rather cool.
On July 17, 2014, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals a possible future "Find My iPhone" security feature. The invention is intended to allow the finder of a lost iDevice to initiate a communication with a particular contact stored in the device by bypassing the device's security scheme. In April we posted a report titled "Apple Agrees to Provide a Kill Switch on iPhones in 2015." The report noted that in San Francisco 60% of all robberies involved the theft of a mobile device and in neighboring Oakland it was up to a whopping 75%. The report noted that legislation had been tabled in California to force tech companies to do more to secure mobile devices and its contents. Apple currently provides mobile device users with a feature called "Find My iPhone." This current patent application marks Apple's third security related patent of the day. The other two security related features were covered in our first report titled "Apple Invents Wildly Advanced Bumping Technology."
On July 17, 2014, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple titled "Bump or Close Proximity Triggered Wireless Technology." Although Apple's Sr. VP of Software Engineering Craig Federighi made light of Samsung's bumping technology during his 2013 WWDC keynote segment introducing "AirDrop" by saying that there was no need to wander around the room bumping your phone with others in order to share photos and so forth, the fact is that bumping technology was long established in previous Apple inventions going back to 2009. Today, Apple takes bumping technology to newly advanced levels. Although Apple notes that it does use peer-to-peer Wi-Fi Direct like with AirDrop in some cases, they also note that they use many other communication standards that could be applied to a wide range of future applications such as e-Commerce, in-vehicle applications and into wild new areas involving vehicle collisions, theft and beyond.
In addition to our main patent reports that were posted earlier today, there were a few others of interest that caught our eye. Two relate to new wireless authentication methods that will allow users to join public networks quicker or on the fly with the other designed to allow an iPhone to quickly mate with other devices like accessories or a car dock. The third patent concerns Apple's standing patent application regarding an iPhone with a wrap-around display.
On July 10, 2014, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals Apple's intent to reduce the number of openings at the bottom of an iPhone. The focus of this invention is to reinvent the audio jack port so that when a user isn't using the audio jack port, audio can be sent through that same port instead of a dedicated speaker. The new combination port may support a lightning connector.