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 January 30, 2014, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals a possible future iPad bezel that will allow for gesture and touch input detection through Force Sensing. This will allow for virtual buttons to be incorporated right into the iPad's bezel. Apple first revealed their initial work on force sensors back in July 2013 and various aspects of smart bezels in April and December 2011.
According to patent records, Apple has been dreaming and working on the smart bezel since 2005 – which actually predates the iPhone. In 2010, the smart bezel project began to gather some real steam and today the project takes an interesting twist. The difference this time around, is that touch zones aren't being limited to just the bezel. No, this time around, Apple is considering the use of touch zones on any surface that makes sense for a given application, be it the iBook or video games. It could equally be applied to an iPad or a television. Now that Apple has proven that touch zones actually work by releasing their Magic Trackpad into the market in 2010, Apple seems to now think that it's time to advance this technology to iOS devices. When you add this specific patent to the other great inventions published today covering coded magnet applications and a new 3D GUI option, it's clear that Apple has some definite plans of taking iOS devices to the next level in the coming years. Let's hope that the Crazy Ones push some of these great ideas to market sooner rather than later.
On the last patent application day of the year, the USPTO revealed a real treat for us. It appears that Apple has added yet another dynamic new chapter to their ongoing smart bezel project; a project that has the potential of taking Apple's iDevices to the next level. It could, without a doubt, revolutionize Apple's entire tablet-based line-up in the blink of an eye. The idea revealed in today's patent application is to advance iOS devices with a new live interface that is referred to as the Multi-Modal Human Interface. The new user interface is powered by a new engine that is able to detect environmental conditions and change the operational interactivity options for users so as to maximize the iDevice's usefulness - automatically. It's also designed to reduce power drainage so that devices could be up and running longer. One example provided for in Apple's documentation is an iPad shutting down the standard iOS UI automatically in favor of one that is driven by a voice and speech recognition UI while the user is driving. This is certainly another natural avenue for Apple's Siri. Yet, in the big picture, the smart bezel project is all about advancing the usability of future iOS devices on multiple levels. It's a project that demonstrates that Apple's leadership in all-things-tablets is based on driving the boundaries of true innovation to market and in the faces of their never ending competition. And on that note, I say Cheers to the Crazy Ones of Cupertino!
The first Apple patent of the day that surprised us was all about an incredible smart bezel using a secondary printed segmented electroluminescence display that would allow for hidden illuminated controls on devices such as the iPad. Apple's second patent surprise of the day is all about Apple devising a next generation iPhone that would effectively offer us a smart hybrid display that could switch between a standard LCD and an e-Paper display. In fact, it's so smart that the display could actually subdivide itself into quadrants that could intelligently switch display types depending on the content that the user is running. That would work very nicely with Apple's proposed use of Spaces on future iOS devices.
Apple has been teasing us with various smart bezel patents over the last year but a new patent application revealed by the USPTO today, provides us with how they're intending to implement this feature and the details will blow you away. Apple intends to introduce a method that employs a very cool secondary display scheme that utilizes a printed segmented electroluminescence display. Apple intends to use the secondary display to introduce a new set of illuminated indicators that would be able to morph into various controls for work and play. Illuminated gaming and productivity controls could be built into the face-side of the bezel and/or selected back-side areas of iOS devices like the iPad. Apple is about to raise the bar for interactive device interfaces that will, no doubt, put absolute fear into the hearts of every iOS device wannabe competitor.
Yesterday we presented you with two of Apple's most detailed patent applications covering Apple's extraordinary research into the notion of live and reconfigurable notebooks. Those patents detailed various scenarios pertaining to a "keyboard-less" notebook in addition to detailing a smart bezel, using hand-wave controls and much more. In today's patent report we cover Apple's third and final installment on this subject matter which pushes the envelope even further this time around by introducing us to acoustic commands. Acoustic commands use unique noise fingerprints of tapping combinations, scratches and/or swirling-motions to control device functionality.
When you think about the basic logic behind Apple's Magic TrackPad, you could reasonably envision touch controls going well beyond glass. This only makes sense as Apple gains experience with touch technologies on different substrates. In a second patent application published today, Apple discusses a new way of bringing touch to aluminum and other metals. There, new discoveries may very well lead to the development of truly next-generational forms of a MacBook or perhaps just added magic to their MacBook Air. Considering that Apple also discusses introducing air-wave controls on Apple hardware, it might be the place to kick-start this little wonder of an idea. The Concept also extends to the iPod where we might even see a spiral-styled control UI surface amongst a series of new specialized hardware interfaces. While I think that Apple's new reconfigurable hardware concept sounds a little like their one time chameleon project, the fact remains that Apple now has the technological experience behind them to advance some of these great and wilder ideas. I think that Apple's TrackPad was only an experiment for what lies ahead. And it all sounds like a lot of fun to me.
On February 17, 2011, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals the next chapters for both their iPad and MacBook portable devices. Apple first discussed future plans regarding a smart bezel for their iPad and iPod touch a year ago while hinting at new hovering capabilities just last week. The idea is to give Apple's iPad bezel easy yet invisible controls. In today's patent application, Apple really spells out how the smart bezel may not require a Home Button and added controls like volume will simply require a swipe of your finger. If that wasn't enough, Apple kicks everything up a notch by talking about a Live and Reconfigurable touch interface for future MacBooks. This has a lot of potential if Apple's haptic technology advances accordingly. It's the device every OEM on the planet is trying to master and it sure looks like Apple is getting a whole lot closer than most. Go Apple!
It was about a year ago when we first learned of Apple's initial work on smart bezels that could one day apply to future versions of the iPad and/or other devices. As is the case with most cyclical research, ideas have a natural ebb and flow to them. In today's report you'll learn a little more about the smart bezel's advancements via hovering technology and about a new idea to make iOS displays a little more touch sensitive – if that's even possible. The good news is that Apple has taken some of the initial technology and thinking that was behind their smart bezel project and first applied it to other devices such as the Magic Mouse and Magic Trackpad. So now that we know that touch technology can go beyond mere displays, the idea of it applying to a future iPad bezel isn't as farfetched as it may have been just a year ago. Such is the nature of progress.
A new Apple patent focuses on grounding future iPads in superior ways so that touch values don't get distorted when the iPad isn't being held by the user. For example, a user could be resting their iPad down on a wooden coffee table or a leather sofa so as to read a book or surf the web. In these situations, the iPad isn't being properly grounded and could begin to cause the iPad's touch commands to behave incorrectly due to improper grounding. Apple's solution includes adding additional ports to make it easier to ground the iPad and a new notification system to warn the user that the iPad requires to be grounded for proper operation.
On Tuesday, a very insightful granted patent of Apple's came to light describing an intelligent bezel. Today, that very same theme continues and goes much further this time around to include what Apple describes as intelligent "sense lines." Sense lines could surround the display of a media player unseen under the multi-touch display glass as an alternative to a physical bezel which was described in Tuesday's granted patent in context with a tablet.In covering Tuesday's patent report, Paul Boutin of VentureBeat wondered if Apple's technology would apply to an iPhone. "The clickwheel makes the iPod simple and relaxing to use, rather than fumbling through menus and pressing buttons. I can operate an iPod while jogging. Wish I could say that for my iPhone." Well, apparently Apple is thinking of doing just that. Though instead of using a virtual click wheel, Apple is proposing touch based sense lines that could control the devices functions like sound or any other menu items that you would traditionally find on a click wheel based menu system. The difference is that you'd be able to find your most valued menu items without scrolling and in one lightning quick click.