On January 26, 2012, the US Patent & Trademark Office published Apple's second Siri centric patent. Our first report on Apple's Siri was titled "Apple introduces us to Siri, the Killer Patent," which described a large basket of concepts and possible future applications. In Apple's second Siri patent, it's all about the "hands-free Context."
On October 4, 2011, Apple launched the iPhone 4S with Siri just one day prior to Steve Jobs passing. Today, the first killer patent application behind Siri was published by the US Patent and Trademark Office. It's clear that Apple's breakthrough technology is destined to go far beyond the iPhone and into devices like the iMac and a future HDTV. The timing of this patent application is appropriate, being that we just posted a report on Tuesday titled "Steve Jobs Credited with an Apple TV Patent for Episodic TV." The patent also reveals that Apple envisions the technology playing a role in vehicles and in-vehicle entertainment systems where an Intelligent Assistant will be considered the king of user interfaces. Apple's patent shows us that Siri will be able to be configured to work with various new scenarios and even act as an instructor when we purchase future devices. Forget using a manual – as Siri will simply teach us what we'll want to know about our new devices when we're ready to ask it a question about a new function or feature. Today we get a look behind the magic of Siri, and it is simply mind boggling.Report Updated, 2:45 PM MST: Siri Trademark filing information added.
On January 12, 2012, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals an exciting new 3D GUI for iOS mobile devices. The new UI will work with proximity sensor arrays and will respond to hovering gestures. The Crazy Ones in Cupertino have been working on advanced 3D GUIs for some time now. We first learned of a major 3D GUI project back in 2009 that involved using head tracking technology. Then in early 2010 we learned of Apple's first project relating to a 3D GUI for iOS devices. Later that year Apple 3D multifunctional widgets and over time revealed advanced 3D and hovering based gesturing for CAD users on an iPad. With twenty times the GPU power coming to iOS devices over the next year, Apple appears to paving the way for a new 3D GUI for mobile devices in the not-too-distant future. Update Saturday Jan 14, 2011, 2PM MST: We've added a video to the report.
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!
On August 11, 2011, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals one of the possible next chapters for Apple's iOS. Apple's patent application focuses on advancing iOS metaphors to a higher level. In this application we see that Apple is working on new ways of working with a 3D user interface. One example shows us that a user will be able to creatively design a hole, tunnel or even a trap door in their UI that could send files to their work or home office like a portal in seconds. In the not-too-distant future, a user will be able to shred documents on their iOS devices by simply using a new shredding gesture. And if that wasn't enough, users will be able to one day create 3D objects with a simple finger gesture. Considering that OS X Lion just introduced iOS-like features into our desktop experience, we're likely to see some of these future metaphors spill over to our desktops as well. Just when Apple's competition thought that they've safely figured out how to copy the iOS experience, we see that Apple is preparing to take iOS to the next level. It's back to the drawing board for iOS copycats and I doubt that any of us will be losing any sleep over that.
When I think of quality 3D content, one of the first companies that comes to mind is Pixar whose wondrous works have dazzled millions worldwide and made us laugh. It was Steve Jobs who acquired a low key 3D software tool developer company and turned it into a 3D animation powerhouse that finally drove Disney to acquire them in 2006. So do I have faith in Apple being able to reinvent 3D for computer displays and televisions in the future? Duh …Yes, of course – and the good news on this front is that a recent patent application reveals one of the many ways that Apple is preparing to deliver this next generation entertainment beast. Although Apple's patent application goes out of its way to never use the words TV or television, they do describe the shortcomings of wearing 3D polarized glasses in context with a display. If that's not describing a future 3D TV application - then I don't know what is. Then again, it's not only about entertainment anyways. It's also about a future 3D version of OS X or perhaps even iOS. And if you follow Apple's patent history, then you know that such advancements in delivering truer 3D imagery will eventually spill over to other professional fields such as medical, aerospace, gaming and far beyond.
A recent Apple patent application was published by the US Patent & Trademark Office that revealed the invention of a highly advanced synchronized and interactive augmented reality (AR) display for future iOS devices. A week ago we uncovered a related AR patent application describing Smart Transparent Display technology in context with varying kinds of new consumer oriented applications. Today's report delves into Apple's initial vision for using augmented reality applications in business, health care and education. It's also Apple's second patent in a week that points to future iOS devices possibly utilizing a next generation positioning system. While we can't make the call just yet that Augmented Reality Displays and System inventions are a definite trend at Apple, we can say that they're gaining traction. Apple's leadership in portable device innovation is once again evident in this patent.
When HP first introduced the TouchPad's "Touch to Share" feature earlier this year, fans and industry pundits alike applauded them for their innovation. Well, it appears that Apple has been working on something similar for about 18 months now. Of course in typical Apple fashion, the concepts envisioned appear to be far more creative as they implement gesturing with Physics Metaphors. In one example, as noted in our cover graphic, you'll be able to "pour out" files from one device to another in a manner that mimics that of pouring water. Apple lists a host of other examples that include sound effects. One such example includes an iPhone sucking up files from an iPad with the sound effect of a vacuum cleaner. While this newly proposed feature will certainly apply to all of Apple's hardware, it will also eventually apply to other devices such as televisions, whiteboards, projectors and more. Whether this ends up being a spin-off of Apple's forthcoming "AirDrop" feature or not remains to be seen. For now, it's Apple adding some badly needed personality to the boring process of file sharing.
On July 7, 2011, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals various concepts behind newly advanced 3D gesturing that will apply to CAD applications for product and gaming developers as well as for consumers. According to Apple, next generation iPad and/or other iOS device displays will allow consumers to create avatars for 3D environments or assist homeowners in designing new landscapes and more by using simple 3D gesturing. The new 3D gesturing will control color and textures while allowing users to uniquely rotate objects to gain different perspectives of their designs. This is wild stuff that is bound to give Apple's competitors another huge headache.
On June 30, 2011, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals various new advanced vicinity sensors coming to future iPads. Apple's patent makes it clear that vicinity sensors will be a tool that will fit into the enterprise quite nicely. New vicinity sensors coming to the iPad include RFID, Infrared and Ultrasonic. The latter utilizes advanced 3D scanning and imaging capablilities. The advanced sensors are designed to locate office equipment anywhere within an enterprise and could actually devise floor plans to properly located devices. Users will also be able to drag document icons to the printer or videos and/or art to a video projector for a presentation using Keynote or Power Point. Without a doubt, Apple is aiming to further advance the iPad into the enterprise.
On June 9, 2011, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals one of the next chapters for playlist creation in iTunes. Instead of playlists being presented in text form, Apple is proposing the organization of your playlists into searchable Mosaic Icons that could be set in various grid arrangements of your choosing. New navigational controls associated with the new iTune playlist icons will allow users to quickly navigate or browse through the items in the list without having to open a new view. To allow for this new form of graphical playlist design, Apple will have to either redesign iTunes or recreate a new Summary iTunes tab within iTunes that could present pages of your new playlists that are in mosaic icon form. Apple's proposed icon system could also be technically applied to folders in a typical computer directory structure containing subfolders.
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.
Tampering with a winning user interface is a tricky thing. People don't generally like drastic user interface changes and yet, there are times early on in a new device cycle, where reinvention from within is necessary to keep the competition on the run and in a panic. Apple's iPhone user interface led the way in 2007 and the copycats do what they do best: they copied it. Well, Apple appears to be at it again and sending out signals that change is in the wind. Both in September and December of 2010, Apple hinted that they were considering the use of a new UI element called Spirals: An interesting UI that could be used for media, especially photos. Today, Apple introduces us to something they simply refer to as "Segmented Graphical Representations." It's a new Graphical User Interface element that presents one larger graphic, such as album art, and then segments it into a series of smart interactive tiles. The idea may begin with the iTunes Store, but Apple shows us that it could very well spill over to other iOS elements like the address book and beyond. Leaders lead and Apple is likely to take iOS to the next level sometime in the future. Until then, the competition will just have to sweat it out.
When Apple introduced the iPhone in January 2007, it turned the mobile phone industry on its head. It changed everything we knew about smartphones and threw out the manual. That's what secret out-of-the-blue technology could do when applied just right. With the iPhone's success, the Crazy Ones of Cupertino went into high gear. They were scribbling ideas on bar napkins as their teams feverishly pushed the idea of what Multi-Touch was and more importantly, could be. Today you'll learn about their new Three Dimensional Multi-Touch skin technology; an idea that could explode into a plethora of future product concepts.
Apple has long been researching the field of avatars in context with next generation shopping experiences. Their initial research popped up in 2008 in context to a future avatar-centric Apple Store. A year later, Apple introduced us to the head-tracking system in relation to future avatar movements matching our real-world movements and we also learned about the future of 3D internet experiences. While the first generation of avatar creation was rather hokey, like avatars associated with Microsoft's Xbox, next generation avatars show promising realism. It's that realism that will give life to Apple's new personalized shopping avatar application. It will allow users to visualize what clothing, jewelry or accessories will look like on them before purchasing the items from a virtual retailer. The technology will also eventually apply to assisting user's redesign their living room with new furniture that they're thinking of buying or assisting doctors in their communication with patient's over the net.