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March 2010

Body Area Networks: Apple, Sensor Strips & the iPhone

Eric Topol is a leading cardiologist who has embraced the study of genomics and the latest advances in technology to treat chronic disease. In one of his recent presentations, Dr. Topol points to the iPhone's growing importance and connection to the next wave of medical technology relating to the "Body Area Network." One of the key components of this new dimension in medical technology is that of the sensor strip, an invention that Apple gained a granted patent for only four months ago. This focused report takes a peek at Dr. Topol's presentation in respect to Apple's patent and at how other medical facilities are adopting the iPhone as a crucial tool for their Cardiologists and Neurosurgeons on the go. According to the leading Chief of Medicine at Toronto's Mount Sinai hospital – "The iPhone is the Future of Health Care." With Apple's newly granted patent now in place – that statement may very well prove true.


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Apple Industrial Design Wins: MacBook Pro/Air Keyboard Layouts

On March 30, 2010, the US Patent and Trademark Office officially published three newly granted design patents for Apple Inc. today. The notables within this group cover Apple's MacBook Pro & Air keyboard layouts.

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Apple Wins Major iPad Patents Prior to April 3 Launch!

Just prior to Apple's debut of the iPad in January, they were granted a major patent for a Proximity Detector for Tablets. Today, history appears to want to repeat itself by granting Apple major patents just five days prior to the official iPad launch. This patent is a whopper being that it covers accelerometers specifically in tune with multiple applications relating to games, maps, 3D Surround Sound speakers and more. Apple's second major win is for utilizing multiple broadband antennas for the iPhone and iPad 3G. Someone in Cupertino is smiling this morning – that's for sure.

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Fujitsu Assigns their Entire Interest in iPad to Apple

A recent document from the USPTO shows that Apple has been assigned the trademark for iPad prior to the official April 3, 2010 launch of this revolutionary product. Although Apple may have been granted the iPad trademark over time, the clock was ticking down. Apple purchased the trademark on March 17, 2010.

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Apple Working on Unique Speaker-Phone Feature for iPhone

It would appear that one of Apple's R&D teams have been assigned with the project of coming up with new ways to utilize the iPhone's built-in camera beyond simply taking photos. Last month we were clued into an innovative concept that will help users control their incoming calls and voicemail by simply swiping their finger over the external camera lens. It detailed rewinding and fast forwarding voicemail in addition to enhancing one handed navigation of web pages, documents or your iTunes library – by once again, swiping the camera lens in different swiping motion combinations. In today's patent, we're presented with the idea that we'll be able to train the iPhone (or perhaps a future iPad) to automatically turn the speaker-phone mode on under specific conditions like when you're driving a vehicle or busy working on your computer. The camera is trained to understand both lighting conditions and your common surroundings so as to know when your speaker phone should or could be activated. If you're a busy executive, then this may be the answer you've been looking for. For now however, it's simply an R&D project.

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Solar Powered MacBooks May be in our Future

This is definitely the year of the environment at Apple.Beyond their initial push,Apple's patents began to reflect their new position. On January 14, we presented Apple's Smart-Home Energy Management Dashboard System and then a week later we reported that Apple Thinks Green Again with Solar Cell Panels for Media Players. Well, Apple is at it again - and this time they're focusing on a light harness that could be an accessory that magnetically attaches to the backside of a future Macbook or could be engineered right into the Macbook using a translucent component. This way when you're outside enjoying the sun at a park or by your tent side, you'll be able to draw power from the sun and cut down on draining your battery. Apple is also considering using solar cells. It may look a bit goofy in the patent, but we all know that the finished product will be slick: That's for sure!

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Apple Registers 3 iPhone Icon Designs in China

1b - Cover - iPhone iCons 
Apple has registered three iPhone icons covering Voice Memos and the Compass in Maps and Compass in China under numbers 0902220.7M001 to 7M003 on March 5, 2010. The icons will be covered until October 2014.


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Apple Patent May Shed Light on Recent Protective Film Ban

1 cover - retardation film 
Who amongst us knew that Apple had a secret retardation solution for their media players? Surely not I. But there it is in black and white, a granted patent for one of Apple's super secrets of how their display stays so crisp under the most demanding of circumstances. In case you didn't know, Apple's Engineering Team responsible for display and touch technology is as fanatical about their craft as Jonathan Ive is about Industrial Design. Two of the senior display engineer's on this team include Cheng Chen who has a PhD in Liquid crystal physics/optics and is behind Apple's upcoming iPad as is John Zhong who won an honorary award in 2009 from The Society for Information Display (SID) for his exceptional contributions to display technology. Today's granted patent presents us with a basic overview of this team's use of retardation film on media displays so that we could continue to enjoy crisp imagery even when we're wearing sunglasses. At the end of the day, Apple's granted patent may even provide us with a little reasoning behind Apple's recent move to ban protective screen film from the Apple Store.

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Apple Wins iMac Touch Related Patent – a.k.a. the iKey Patent

1 Cover - Touchscreen Signet Login System 
The US Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 7 newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today. One of these patents deserves to stand out all by itself: A patent that points to signet based login system for an iMac with a touchscreen. Some have called it the iKey patent.

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Apple Reveals 3D-Like UI for Social Networking App & More

1 - Cover Flow-like content selection Process (2)

In the second half of 2007 Apple had successfully integrated Cover Flow into their iPhone and iPod touch handhelds. That provided users with the ability to view and flip through their collection of iTunes album covers in a quick and easy way using a very unique 3D-like user interface. Of course that was the original intent for the app that was originally developed by Steel Skies - prior to Apple's acquisition. With a year's worth of experience with Cover Flow on handhelds under their belt, it appears that Apple's R&D went right to work on expanding the utilization of such a feature into other types of applications. Apple's exemplary example displayed in today's patent once again points to a social networking application. However, it's currently unclear whether Apple is planning to add this methodology to their iGroups project or simply make this technology available to third party iPhone developers in general. Time will tell.

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Apple Reveals Up-to-Date Commute Time App & Pages for iPad

On March 18, 2010, the US Patent & Trademark Office published 17 patent applications from Apple Inc. The notables within this group include one that we covered earlier this morning titled "iGroups: Apple's New iPhone Social App in Development," in addition to another relating to an "up-to-date commute time" application for Apple's iPhone. This wild and crazy app will help you with your commute to work on time by notifying you of traffic problems and new routes to consider while automatically rescheduling your meetings that are in your iPhone calendar and even reset the clock on your coffee maker. Sorry it doesn't make breakfast. Other patents today include a look at Apple's iWork Pages template feature that even applies to their upcoming iPad. And lastly, there are two more patents that build on a January patent about new features that may be coming to Apple's Magic Mouse in the future.

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iGroups: Apple's New iPhone Social App in Development

Apple is working on a new communications based social networking application that they're simply calling "iGroups." According to the documents published by the USPTO today, Apple's iGroup will be a new service that will work on your iPhone and likely work with MobileMe. The idea is to allow groups of friends or colleagues attending such events as a concert, a tradeshow, business meeting, wedding or rally to stay in communication with each other as a group to share information or reactions to live events as they're occurring. The technology behind the new iGroup social networking applications works with a very sophisticated cryptographic key generation system to ensure security and privacy of your communications. Interestingly, the patent states that if one of the devices in your group happens to be without true positioning technology, it appears that Apple's MobileMe service will provide some sort of "virtual GPS" capability to that user so that they could be aware of the locations of others in the group. Apple's patent provides us with example scenarios of both a concert and WWDC event to clarify the service. This marks Apple's fourth social networking application made public since the start of 2010 - which clearly indicates that Apple now has this hot new sector in its crosshairs. 

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