Apple has filed many SIM Card related patents over the last three years with the last one surfacing in October 2013. Yesterday, the US Patent & Trademark Office published yet another SIM Card Tray redesign with an emphasis this time on a thinner design form factor for future devices such as an iPhone, a MacBook and/or one that is wearable.
This morning Patently Apple discovered a killer patent application from Apple that was published in Europe. Apple's killer invention describes flexible wraparound displays for a possible future iPhone and/or other devices. The patent describes sapphire and transparent displays used in a form factor created by an alumina powder liquid-metal process. Apple further describes some very interesting applications taking advantage of this kind of continuous wraparound display that could be ideal for a future wristband computer that we reported on earlier this year. Without a doubt, this patent application is one of the best of the year – so check it out.
Apple invented a video headset back in 2006 and was granted a patent for it in September 2009. Since that time Apple has added a few inventions to keep their project evolving over time (one, two), with the most recent mention of a headset being noted in a patent application relating to hidden audio sensors. Over the weekend we covered a patent that Apple acquired from PrimeSense regarding an advanced headset to add to Apple's patent portfolio on head mounted displays. Today, the US Patent and Trademark Office officially published a knockout granted patent for a detailed head mounted head display that resembles the Oculus Rift which is the buzz of the gaming world at the moment. Apple's patent makes it clear that gaming is one of the main entertainment options for this device. It's also designed to be a personal display system so that you could enjoy full HD widescreen experiences on the go with your iPhone or at Home with your Apple TV. Without a doubt, it's the surprise granted patent of the year.
On October 10, 2013, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple titled "Systems and Methods for Ejecting Removable Modules from Electronic Devices." Some will find Apple's redesigned SIM Card tray invention that utilizes a combination of magnets very interesting. However, the part that I found most interesting of all had nothing to do with the design. For me it was Apple's revelation that future wearable computers would be a candidate for their invention.
On October 10, 2013, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals their intent to one day reinvent the connector system for both Macs and iDevices. It's a universal desire for consumers to have a simplified connector system for computers or other electronics – and yet technically there are so many electrical standards in place today that it's close to impossible to think that we could have a utopian universal connector system. Yet Apple plugs away believing there's a way to be the first computer company to crack this nightmare of differing connectors; a way to keep the connectors on a Mac or iDevice super simple. Apple began this project back in 2011 and today we're getting more detailed information about how the reinvention of the connector system could one day be a reality.
The week before Apple's big iPhone event, the US Patent and Trademark Office published 20 original patent applications from Apple with most of them being very low key. In this patent report we point to a series of interesting yet extremely detailed patents. One covers new processes behind Apple's iDevice touchscreens. Another covers a possible cooling system controller for Apple's upcoming Mac Pro with multi-core processors. Yet another covers teaching Siri how to remember name pronunciation for foreign names. And lastly, Apple may be thinking about providing iDevices with a simple zoom slider for taking photos near or far. If you're one that likes to read about the little hidden details behind some of Apple's greatest products of today and tomorrow, then you'll enjoy this report.
The US Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 41 newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today. In this particular report we cover a major win for an advanced sensor-based user interface that could apply to a future iPhone, desktop display/monitor or even a television. The invention, if implemented, would enable a user to interact with a display at quite a distance. In a desktop application, as a user moves physically away from their desktop, the system will automatically switch from mouse controls to that of hand gesturing controls if the user so choses to do so. In theory, if applied to a TV scenario, the user would be able to use hand gesturing to control TV functionality without a remote. With new 3D depth cameras coming to market in late 2014, Apple may be able to further fine-tune such a unique system.
On August 15, 2013, the US Patent & Trademark Office published three patent applications from Apple that reveal new connector related developments. The first invention covers a MagSafe connector design with new "flat attraction plates" for better connectivity and superior aesthetics. The second invention covers a flexible audio connector that could be made with new superelastic materials. And lastly, a third connector related invention reveals a new manufacturing methodology that implements lasers so as to eliminate a lot of manual labor.
On July 25, 2013, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals charging techniques for Solid State batteries. Solid State batteries fall into low-power density and high-energy density categories. On the latter side of the equation, Toyota is working on a Solid State battery for 2020 vehicles that will deliver 3 to 4 times battery life. Obviously Apple is interested in the low-power side of Solid State batteries for iDevices and likely future wearable computers. According to Wikipedia, Solid Sated batteries "are easy to miniaturize and can be constructed in thin film form," which would be great in context with bendable devices and those with flexible displays. They also eliminate the problem of electrolyte leakage found in traditional batteries. This kind of batteries also tends to have very long shelf lives and usually don't have any abrupt changes in performance with temperature, such as might be associated with electrolyte freezing or boiling. At the end of the day, we'd like to see battery life extended for iDevices in the 3 to 4 times range like the goal Toyota is aiming for. Now that would be great news.
Today, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a series of 15 original Apple patent applications. Our first report covered a wild concept that involves a unibody magnetic coating for MacBooks and/or the iPad and our second report covered inertial sensors for future MacBooks and/or Apple's Magic Mouse. In this report we mainly cover a new image sensor assembly for future iDevice cameras and a patent filing that provides us with a lot more detail about the makeup of Apple's new lighting connector that debuted with the iPhone 5.
On this holiday July fourth, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals a new speaker design aimed primarily for iDevices such the iPad and iPhone. This is Apple's third attempt at trying to find the right design for an advanced sound system for smaller computers. Apple's first design surfaced in May 2012 which was followed by a more elaborate design in March of this year. All three designs are aimed at delivering much richer audio for music, video and as an iPhone speakerphone.
On June 27, 2013, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals a key new combination input port. The new port will save on space as the MacBook Air continues to get thinner. But where the invention really gets interesting is when the combination port could be used in Apple's hot iPhone and iPad designs. Until Apple launches their iPad Mini with Retina, I bought my wife an 8GB HP Slate the other day and purchased a 32 GB SD Data Card. The first thought that came to mind was why doesn't Apple provide this option? Today we know why. Apple's Jony Ive will be able to design his future iDevice magic without having to take up space for an SD Card Slot. That's Apple, the innovator – dong what they do best: Create cool devices with features that drive the copycat competition crazy.
Apple has been working on biometric sensors for fingerprint scanners for iDevices and the MacBook since at least 2009. In 2010 we reported that Apple was working on a fingerprint scanner that could work under a device's display and in late 2012 Apple revealed their fingerprint scanner for use as an e-commerce and general security feature for the iPhone. Today, the US Patent and Trademark Office revealed Apple's latest alternative fingerprint scanner design that could be integrated directly into the bezel of a given device. In operation, a user will simply swipe a finger over a surface of the sensor. The sensor will capture a number of thin strips of the fingerprint as the finger is swiped, and the complete fingerprint is assembled in software for use in authentication. Such a sensor apparatus is typically preferred when a compact sensor is desired.
In April of this year we posted a report titled "Apple Electro-Optical Connector Patents Surface that may Point to "Lightning's" Road Map," which was Apple's most up to date patent on their new lightning connector technology. Today, two older 2011 Lightning related patents surfaced as continuation patents which basically means that in all likelihood Apple simply updated their 2011 patent claims and no more. However, if you've never viewed these patents, they do provide those interested in the technology behind Lightning with some real meat to sink their teeth into. One surprise that we noted is that Apple clearly indicates that a Lightning centric dock could be on tap in the future.
During Apple's financial conference on Tuesday afternoon, Apple's CEO Tim Cook stated that Apple had new categories of products in the pipeline for the end of the year and throughout 2014. It was three years ago to date that Apple first hinted at a gaming console and controller. Well today, one of Apple's published patent filings revealed new pivoting buttons that may be coming to future iDevices. The exciting aspect to this is that there are two specific example button designs for a game controller that they have in mind. The first gaming button is noted in our cover graphic above while the second gaming button is presented in our report. The designs are about the buttons and not the look of a full game controller. This is the first big hint that Apple may be closer than we think to a gaming console or at least a game controller for a gaming version of Apple TV. I love video gaming and this news put a smile on my face. Come on Tim – get it out the door for Christmas. We're all cheering you on.