On April 24, 2014, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a series of three patent applications from Apple that revisits the many authentication systems that Apple is working on beyond just a fingerprint scanner. Apple touches on retinal scanning, eye tracking, voice prints and other systems for the iPhone and MacBook Pro alike. For the MacBook Pro, the biometric sensor could be built right into a familiar keyboard key or in the palm rest. Lastly, Apple adds retina scans to one of their patents patent claims to ensure that it's a protected future feature option.
Earlier today we posted a report titled "Two new Biometric Patents from Apple Surface Covering Anti-Spoofing Measures and More" that covered a new "doodle" authentication process. In another patent application filing published by the US Patent & Trademark Office today, Apple reveals the next level of passcode authentication process for iDevices and Macs that involve a color coded combination feature covering "password gestures." The new method is to both strengthen the current authentication process using Touch ID and to provide an alternative method of authentication for those Apple fans that have decided to opt out of using Touch ID due to their distrust of the US government's NSA spying processes that have been in the news of late. The race is on to secure these next-gen authentication processes, as others like Samsung have patents on record for this, though Apple's filings are dated a year or more ahead of theirs. And with Apple suing Samsung over "Slide to Unlock," securing patents for this advanced process is important. UPDATE April 19, 2014 11 PM PST - Addressing Fanatical Android Fans
On April 17, 2014, the US Patent & Trademark Office published two new biometric related patent applications from Apple. While one invention delves into various methods that Apple's Touch ID may be using today or could be using in the future, the other introduces us to a new and unique anti-spoofing measure that they aptly call the "Doodle" mode that could be used with the iPhone and/or future Macs.
Earlier today Patently Apple discovered a patent application filing that listed one of Apple's leading product design engineers. The patent application was published under its inventor's names as a means of avoiding being published under Apple's name at the US Patent Office. Legally speaking, Apple only has to appear as the assignee after the patent application has been granted. This is a somewhat common practice that Apple uses to keep specific intellectual property out of the lime light until the last possible moment. The discovery today covers a rather simple invention. It's about providing Apple TV with a much larger heat sink. Today's Apple TV supports a 32-bit single-core A5 processor. But if Apple should ever decide to adopt their faster A7 or future A8 64-bit single or multi-core processors to support gaming, it would need a larger heat sink. In context, last Wednesday iFixit uncovered a larger heat sink in Amazon's new Fire TV that's aiming at Android gaming. The trend is obvious.
Earlier this week we posted a report titled "Apple Secretly Moves Next-Gen iPhone Baseband Processor Development In-House to Possibly Enhance Security." Today, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that may reveal yet another aspect of Apple's future radio systems. Apple's new patent relates to the field of wireless communication, and more particularly to a system and method for performing location-based updating of subscriber identity information in an iDevice which utilizes an embedded subscriber identity module (eSIM).
In late March Patently Apple posted a report entitled "Facebook to buy Oculus for $2 Billion," where noted that Apple's acquisition of PrimeSense could advance Apple's previous work on a video headset. Today the US Patent and Trademark Office reveals that Apple has revisited their patent application regarding their video headset that could be a future Apple TV accessory or an Apple TV iDevice for those on the go; A nice spin-off product if you will. Coincidentally news surfaced late yesterday from KGI securities analyst Ming Chi Kuo is claiming that Apple will revamp their Apple TV device later this fall. It would be very cool timing if the Apple TV accessory would be ready at that time to create some major buzz in the industry. However, it's unclear if Apple is really committed to such an iDevice or accessory. It would be great for gaming and a way to get ahead of Oculus. But for now it's just an open question mark. In this report we also note that Apple has filed a continuation patent regarding their Shanghai Apple Store Building.
Late yesterday Patently Apple discovered a unique patent application from Apple that was published in Europe. The patent contains a feast of cool new ideas floating around Cupertino's R&D labs. Apple's many inventions are illustrated on both MacBooks and a possible future iPen. Apple discusses varying flex display designs and a new illumination process that is very cool. Some of the features described in this latest patent filing could easily be applied to future wearable devices from Apple. All-in-all Apple's European patent application was a lot of fun to explore and I think that you'll really enjoy our report covering its many highlights.
On April 3, 2014, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals their work on next generation multitouch technology that uses FTIR (Frustrated Total Internal Reflection) and capacitive sensing. It's much like the technology that Microsoft calls PixelSense. It's a technology that could sense different pressure levels which could be used for an on-screen gaming controller. If you want speed, just push harder on the display and the car will accelerate. It may also be used for future virtual reality applications. With Apple's recent acquisition of PrimeSense, Apple definitely has something big that they're working on for 3D gaming and/or other advanced applications.
On April 3, 2014, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple titled "System and Method of Detecting a User's Voice Activity using an Accelerometer." It appears that Apple is working to advance their EarPod with Remote and Mic headset so as to provide superior voice quality for phone calls in the future. Technically speaking, the new system will have a voice activity detector (VAD) system that uses signals from an accelerometer included in the earbuds of a headset with a microphone array to detect the user's speech and to steer at least one or more beamformers.
On April 03, 2014, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals a simple yet sophisticated next generation SIM card tray ejection system. The system is activated on a future iOS touchscreen UI virtual button. The new system adds a new level of security for SIM cards which will be important as future iDevices may support bank related SIM cards for credit and/or debit.
Last week we posted a report titled "Apple Reveals an Oleophobic Coating on Sapphire Process for iDevices that may Incorporate Liquid-Metal." The week prior we reported that Apple revealed laser cutting techniques for processing sapphire. The wave of sapphire related patents continues for the third straight week with one titled "Continuous Sapphire Growth." Apple's patent application relates to sapphire growth and, more particularly, to systems and methods for continuous sapphire growth.
Last Thursday the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals that they're seeking protection for a newly advanced five axis robotic arm used in the manufacture of their new Mac Pro. Apple's Senior Vice President Operations Jeff Williams states in a video presented below that in order to make the advanced Mac Pro Tower, Apple had to pioneer entirely new processes. Of course one of them relates to Apple's new robotic arm. In the end, Apple is showing us the insane depths that they're willing to go so as to create an amazingly original desktop computer. How many companies other than Apple would go to such lengths to design a new desktop today in the midst of the mobile revolution? None. Apple just thinks different. Designing cool products is just in their DNA.
On March 27, 2014, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Nike that reveals a new motorized footwear adjustment system that will work with the Nike-Apple created Nike + iPod system. Nike's idea is absolutely crazy, but I like it. Nike's new system will allow professional athletes and sporting enthusiasts alike to program their running shoes so that they could attain the ultimate comfort level each and every time they put their runners on. It'll provide athletes with a snugness that's unique to their needs. It's an automatic shoe lace adjustment system on steroids. Your laces will never come undone again at any time. More importantly, Nike's patent clearly confirms that this new system will work with Apple's iPhone and the Nike + iPod system including the iPod sensor. Yes, there's a new Nike + iPod system update in the making and many sporting fans will truly appreciate Nike's attention to detail and for making their next generation footwear even that much more comfortable for their hard runs and gaming needs.
On March 27, 2014, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals an Apple TV feature that we'll all like. In a nutshell, if you're watching a movie on Apple TV and want to get some more popcorn and drinks, you may not have to stop the movie. You'll just sync the movie stream from Apple TV to an iDevice and it'll allow you to watch your movie while grabbing snacks or doing other duties. Come to think of it, that could have come in handy while watching this year's iTunes music festival. In the future, we may even be able to sync our Apple TV content to a future computer band so while you're grabbing your snacks you don't have to hold your iPhone. While only time will tell if that scenario ever plays out, for now we just may be looking at a new Apple TV feature that's coming our way (hopefully soon).