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April 2009

Safari to Offer Unique Volume Controls


On April 23, 2009, the USPTO revealed a new patent application from Apple that generally relates to Web Browser Audio Controls. Although the idea is rather simple, the fact is that no one has implemented it yet. Apple wants to provide users with the ability to control volume on the Safari browser - be it on an iMac, MacBook or iPhone. Users will, more importantly, be given the ability to pre-program the browser to automatically play, mute or modify audio on specific URLs. For instance, I like to check out financial news on CNN but hate the video that automatically plays when that site is opened. With Apple's invention, I'd be able to preset that URL to mute so that I never have to hear that unwanted video again or simply play it at a very low volume. Apple's upgraded Safari browser will come with a mute button and a volume control slider that will be positioned within the search bar itself, as shown below.

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Apple Reveals Advanced Sports Monitoring and Head Gesturing Systems

Cover, Head Gesturing 
A new patent application filed by Apple was revealed today by the USPTO. The filing generally relates to a "Sports Monitoring System for Headphones, Earbuds and/or Headsets." The patent basically states that the first generation sports monitoring system Nike + iPod - monitored distance and speed, whereas the next generation systems would facilitate sensing of other user characteristics (e.g., biometric data), such as temperature, perspiration and heart rate. If successful, the system would effectively compete against Polar, the leader in heart rate monitoring systems, who has just released a "foot pod" system to compete against the Nike + iPod system. In Polar's advanced CS600X system, also just released, they introduce an advanced GPS sensor system that works with Google Earth to help color code heart rate zones for cyclists and so forth. Apple's latest patent likewise introduces the use of a GPS receiver in conjunction with directional sensors to determine the direction of a user's gaze. The system would be incorporated into headphones and/or headgear, such as a cyclist's helmet. The secondary strength of this patent focuses on an advanced head gesturing system to control varying aspects of the adjoining monitoring system and/or iPhone/iPod. Head gestures, which could be a part of a sophisticated language like Morse code, states Apple, could control the iPhone/iPod controls in varying degrees.

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Apple Intros In-Vehicle Cryptographically Paired Technology

Cryptographic technology icon A new patent application filed by Apple was revealed by the USPTO today. The filing generally relates to activation or reactivation of cryptographically paired devices, primarily in context with an in-vehicle navigation system. In Apple's first in-vehicle navigation system patent released in March of this year, they primarily focused on introducing various aspects of advanced navigational device sensors.  In today's patent, Apple focuses on security and other interrelated navigational system advancements.

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Patent Brief: Apple Thinks Unibody iPod Classic & Beyond


Apple introduced a breakthrough unibody design for their latest MacBook line-up last fall and proudly produced a video wherein we see Jonathan Ives, Senior Design VP, Dan Riccio, Product Design VP and Bob Mansfield, Senior Mac Hardware VP review the revolutionary manufacturing process and hear their thinking behind it all. The unibody is a seamless enclosure carved from a single piece of aluminum. That's exactly what Apple describes in one of their latest patent applications revealed today. And while the MacBook is one of the products covered by this patent, it is in fact the iPod that is the design in focus. The thin sharp design, shown below, appears to reflect a future iteration of the iPod Classic - being that it still retains the classic iPod click-wheel. Apple's patent states that "the sheet metal may be formed in such a way that the final part looks like it was machined down from a large thick slab of material. By utilizing sheet metal, the overall cost of the part can be reduced." While the new process will apply to a plethora of future devices on the drawing board, Apple's mention of a television is perhaps the one that we all secretly long for. That's for another day. For now, it's the unibody iPod Classic with a very cool aluminized makeover that Apple is focusing on. 

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Patent Brief: Apple thinks of iPhone Gaming Twist


On April 2, 2009, the USPTO revealed one of Apple's latest patent applications that generally relate to movement-based interfaces that will likely be employed in future iterations of the iPhone and iPod touch. In this patent, Apple introduces us to the latest sensor technology that calculates position, orientation and movement which is referred to as POM. The new capabilities will allow users who are walking, jogging or running, for example, to simply flick their wrist, shake or rotate their device as a means of instructing the media device to go to the next tune or amplify the audio without ever having to look or touch the device's interface or touch screen. According to Apple, the device "may be shaken back and forth, up and down, side-to-side, moved in various looping patterns, titled, twisted, rotated, flipped, swung, cradled, twirled, and/or moved in a any sequence within a three-dimensional space by the user." Interestingly, it'll be useful in video games. The document further states that "a user may desire to use a movement pattern that emulates some other activity or action such as, for example, a baseball swing, golf swing, hockey slap shot, or any other known action or expression." 

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