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June 2009

Apple Granted Patents for Smartbook & Find My iPhone Related Technologies


The US Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of four newly granted patents for Apple Inc. The notables within that group include one relating to a hybrid antenna that Apple prominently yet quietly assigns to that of smartbook. The second patent of interest is extraordinarily detailed and covers the widest range of future products imaginable. In fact this report will only cover one segment of the patent while the other information is presented in our supplementary report titled "Apple TV to Take Sporting Events to a Whole New Level." This powerful patent was acquired by Apple as the key credit goes to an individual by the name of Curtis A. Vock of Boulder, CO.  In fact, if truth be told, it would appear that Apple acquired this patent via the outcome of Civil Action Complaint 06-CV-02122 - PhatRat Technology LLC v. Apple Computer Inc. filed in Oct. 24, 2006. The patents known to be associated with PhatRat were "Personal Items Network, and Associated Methods" and "Activity monitoring systems and methods" covered in our March report. The technology found within this current patent covers subject matters ranging from the Apple iPhone 3G-S feature called "Find My iPhone," to that of a heart monitoring system, an advanced Industrial Transport tracking system, a baby monitoring alarm system and other unique applications that could very well be worked into future iterations of Apple's iPhone.  Curtis A. Vock is credited with over 45 successful patents including those from PhatRat.

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Apple Wildly Advances Avatar Concepts for Work & Play

Avatar - Head Tracking Tech, Cover 
Fourteen months ago I wrote a very popular report called "Will Apple Open a Store in Second Life?" which was based on Apple's patent application titled "Enhancing Online Shopping Atmosphere." In it I presented evidence of Apple's first look into creating an online retail-social environment for avatars. Today, we see Apple wildly advancing their technology on this front in respect to direct human-to-avatar expressions. When your head will turn right to left, so will your avatars in realtime. The technology takes advantage of Apple's built-in iSight camera through a process described in the patent in which the camera sets your face up as a profile that replaces the mouse. As an avatar, your three-dimensional head is tracked by the video camera using motion vectors, which gives you the ability to move in six degrees of freedom, including up, down, left, right, backward, forward and free rotation etc. The avatar representation can be broadly applied in computer technology, whether in the form of a three-dimensional model used in computer games, a two-dimensional icon (picture) used on Internet forums or chatting websites.

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After introducing the iPhone 3G-S – a New Patent Points to what's next


On June 18, 2009, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals one of the next chapters for Apple's iPhone navigation systems and services.   Implementations of the invention can realize one or more of the following advantages. The driver of a vehicle can be provided real-time information related to the operational state of the vehicle (e.g., the level of fuel in the vehicle). In some implementations, the driver is automatically provided advance warning of a refueling location and information about where the vehicle can conveniently be refueled. In other implementations, the driver is provided notification of a vehicle maintenance issue and given immediate information about conveniently located vehicle repair stations. These features can reduce driver distraction, reduce the risk of the vehicle running out of fuel and thereby improve road safety for the driver. The system also introduces the concept of filtering the information streamed to you. For instance, you may drive a Mercedes-Benz or other high end vehicle and so for repairs on the road, the system will only point out service stations for that model. The filter also allows users to choose their favorite gas stations, a required fuel type or even the types of restaurants you want to eat at while filling up. On the road, and only on the road, I look for Denny's Restaurants - and so having them pointed out to me on this navigational system would help me plan a better trip.  And lastly, the patent indirectly points to the navigational system being able to pick up television signals.

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Apple's 3D Movie Browser Patent hits a Wall

3D Browser v2 

On June 18, 2009, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application of Apple's which generally relates to a three-dimensional movie browser or editor. While the three-dimensional movie browser or editor described in the patent focuses primarily on a computer system using Final Cut Pro, it's apparent that the technology in its more simplest of forms works itself down into other devices like the iPod touch, iPhone, Apple TV and/or other future devices be they televisions or a game console. The 3D browser could be used on any browser or application window such as QuickTime, iTunes, iMovie and sub systems such as DVD menus or DVD scene searching tools. Apple's Cover Flow is a familiar and simple example of a 3D movie browser.

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Groundbreaking Patents come to life at WWDC 2009

WWDC09 Bonus - Icon The attendees of this year's WWDC were abuzz over some of the new iPhone 3G-S features that Apple's Worldwide Product Marketing VP Phil Schiller introduced during his keynote. They were especially impressed with Apple's new 3 megapixel autofocus functions along with on-iPhone video editing and Voice Controls. Brian Tong reporting for CNET TV captured the excitement over these particular features this way:  "This will feature the touted 3 megapixel camera. It will be able to take photos a lot better. But it has this cool touch focus interface where you touch on an item  -  the camera and the software knows where to focus so they had house in the background and a flower in the foreground that they the used as example… Also you're going to be able to get video capture - everyone's been waiting for this. But the real slick-part about this is the fact that you can actually trim and edit your video clips and then upload them to YouTube, MobileMe or other services. Also some other features that were rumored - was voice control - so that you could actually talk by holding down the home button of your iPhone or iPod touch. It will actually enable you to "controool" your music collection or control it to call people. That was some really cool stuff" This WWDC 2009 Bonus report will show you that these cool features were borne from patents prior to the conference. 

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Apple's iPhone Emergency-Mode Processor & Features Patent


On June 11, 2009, the US Patent & Trademark Office published an Apple patent generally relating to a method and system for prolonging emergency calls on the iPhone. The patent also details how an emergency phone call is made more difficult to disconnect by accident, how it preserves battery life by disabling non-essential hardware components – and how emergency mode enables emergency-phrase buttons on the iPhone that could easily communicate with an emergency operator your location (supported by GPS), a specific condition and/or the fact that you're unable to speak due to your emergency condition.

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Future iPhones Will Gain Pico Projector, Videoconferencing & Advanced Content Sharing

 Future iPhone will Gain Pico Projector, Videoconferencing & More - 2009 patent
On June 4, 2009, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals one of the next chapters for Apple's iPhone. Apple reveals that rich two way communications will be included in a future iteration of the iPhone that will allow users to finally transmit and/or share a selected tune, a video of your own or perhaps one from YouTube, a voicemail, podcast, photo and/or document to each other, all in real-time. Apple also clarifies that the iPhone will offer ichat (videoconferencing) and yet leaves the door open for other communication devices; perhaps a future iteration of Apple TV or future smartbook - or should I say iBook. That would be an interesting development, especially for enterprise users. Yet in another striking twist, this patent reveals that an iteration of an iPhone could provide enterprise users with the ability to use the iPhone as a mini projector. But it could likewise be a blast just between friends as you'll discover.  


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Apple Patent Reveals Multi-Touch Scroll-Wheel & Larger Display iPod


On June 4, 2009, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals various concepts behind a newly advanced multi-touch scroll-wheel in development. Apple's current iPod Classic uses a single-point contact Click-Wheel which severely limits the types of applications that could be controlled on this iPod. Today's patent advances a new concept of multi-touch instructions that could go beyond circular motions to that of a wide range of input. Different regions of sensor elements can aid in sensing gestures that traverse the center of the scroll wheel. For example, linear motion, such as a swipe across the scroll wheel, would support an app like Cover Flow. Multitouch input would also enable zooming applications that could be used with an iLife app like iPhoto or an iWork app like pages or better yet, keynote. Apple introduces us to "Gesture mode" that will activate these advanced features. Lastly, if Apple's FIG.1 noted above is to be taken at face value, then it would indicate that the iPod Classic could be getting a much larger display and smarter scroll wheel. Considering the apps it will be able to run, it stands to reason. Whether this pops up during Apple's WWDC next week is unknown – but it's not that much of a stretch. Traditionally however, patents don't always translate to market that quickly. We could hope though. 

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