Apple Wins Key Patents for iPhone Video Conferencing, Future Macs with NFC Antennas & More
The US Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 14 newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today. In our first report we mainly covered Apple's granted patents that related to a Karaoke system and advanced roaming point-of-sale system. In today's second granted patent report we mainly focus on three patents. The first mainly covers Aperture's plug-in architecture for exporting digital images while the second covers Apple's original iPhone video conferencing interface that set the standard. The third and final granted patent covered today interestingly covers future iMacs and Macbooks that will integrate NFC antennas and related applications.
Apple Wins a Patent for a Display Integrating an NFC Antenna
In April 2010 Patently Apple began reporting on the NFC trend coming to Apple hardware. One of the first reports that we posted on this topic was titled "NFC iPhone to Control All of Your In-Home Electronics & More." One of the devices that were illustrated in that patent was an iMac – and in today's granted patent Apple focuses is on this specific NFC application once again and beyond.
Apple's patent FIG. 1 noted above illustrates transceiver circuitry (patent point # 24) which may include a printed circuit board with multiple transceiver integrated circuits that share a single antenna (patent point # 14) using time-division multiplexing, radio-frequency couplers, radio-frequency switches, etc. In a typical configuration, the circuitry may contain a single transceiver that supports radio-frequency communications over a near field communications band (e.g., 13.56 MHz).
A Security Twist to NFC Applications
The main device # 10 shown in patent FIG. 1 above is that of an iMac (desktop display) which is in communication with device # 34 which could be an iPhone, iPod touch or any other iOS device, according to Apple's documentation. Additionally, device # 34 could even be a security device which could come in the form of a smart card, a key fob device or other suitable compact wireless device. Apple's patent FIG. 2 noted above is a top view of an illustrative antenna having a spiral conductor layout and a substantially square footprint.
Apple's documentation states that in this type of arrangement, the use of near field communications is advantageous because it requires that the security device be located within several inches of the iMac (device #10).
The iMac (device #10) may be placed in a particular location such as within the confines of a building with restricted access, near a point of sale terminal for a merchant, at a reception desk of a building, or other location which benefits from the short-range nature of near field communications. For example, device 10 may be placed within the secure confines of a building, so that only those users who are able to gain entry to the building will be able to bring portable device 34 into near field communications with electronic device 10.
As another example, electronic device 10 may be located at a merchant's point of sale terminal, so that an employee of the merchant (e.g., a cashier) will be present when a user makes an electronic payment or conducts other financial transactions. This subject matter was covered extensively in both our April 2010 and May 2010 reports.
Apple's documentation also states that If device 10 is located at a reception desk of an organization, a receptionist may be able to visually monitor visitors to an organization as they bring portable device 34 into communication with electronic device 10. And you know how we all like to be monitored, right? Ha!
Not limited to the iMac
According to Apples patent, electronic device 10 as shown above may be, for example, a desktop or laptop computer, a router, a kiosk, a point of sale terminal, industrial equipment (e.g., on a factory floor), medical equipment, a printer, a camera, a mobile telephone, a media player, a handheld computer or other handheld device, a hard disk drive enclosure, or any other suitable electronic equipment. For clarity, the present invention will sometimes be described in connection with electronic devices such as computer monitors.
To review Apple's claims, see patent 7,973,722. Apple credits Robert Hill and Qingxiang Li as the inventors of this Granted Patent. To review other Apple patents relating to NFC applications and technology, see our Archives.
Key Granted Patent: Portable Multifunction Device, Method, and Graphical User Interface for Conference Calling
Apple was granted an important iPhone patent on June 21, 2011 and today we see that Apple has won yet another such patent. This time around it relates to the iPhone's video conferencing capabilities and advanced interface used to control and manage video calls involving three or more people.
Initiating or answering a video conferencing call on a cell phone prior to the debut of the Revolutionary iPhone was a very complicated feature for average users. Apple's iPhone changed all of that. Apple's intuitive interfaces for managing a conference call between multiple parties are easy to use, configure, and/or adapt. Such interfaces increase the effectiveness, efficiency and user satisfaction with portable multifunction devices.
Apple's Patent Abstract: In some embodiments, a portable multifunction device with a touch screen display performs a method that includes: displaying a phone call user interface on the touch screen display, wherein the phone call user interface includes: a first informational item associated with an active phone call between a user of the device and a first party, a second informational item associated with a suspended phone call between the user and a second party, and a merge call icon; upon detecting a user selection of the merge call icon, merging the active phone call and the suspended phone call into a conference call between the user, the first party, and the second party, and replacing the phone call user interface with a conference call user interface. The conference call user interface includes: a third informational item associated with the conference call, and a conference call management icon.
To Review Apple's patent claims and extensive detailing, see Granted Patent 7,975,242. Apple credits Senior VP of iPhone Software Scott Forstall, Imran Chaudhri, Michael Matas, Marcel Van Os, Stephan Lemay, Patrick Lee Coffman, Elizabeth Furches and Greg Christie as the inventors.
Granted Patent: Plug-In Architecture for Exporting Digital Images
Apple's invention relates to digital image editing in iPhoto and Aperture. In particular, an embodiment of the present invention relates to a plug-in architecture that allows an image editing application to export versions without a user leaving the noted image editing applications. In Apple's patent FIG. 3B we see the example of FlickerExport.
Apple's Patent Abstract: A method and apparatus for allowing applications to access edited image data from an image editing application are disclosed herein. When the user desires to export edited images, the user causes the image editing application to display a plug-in user interface (UI). The plug-in UI may allow the user to enter exporting parameters, although this is not required. After the user selects an "export" button in the plug-in UI, the image editing application confirms with the plug-in on an image-by-image basis which of the images should be exported. The image editing application then generates an export version of the image. If necessary, the image editing application applies image adjustments to the master image to generate the export version. The image editing application then makes the export version available to the plug-in.
To review the specific patent claims, review Granted Patent 7,974,486. Apple credits Blake Seely as the sole inventor.
Other Granted Patents Published Today
Music Synchronization Arrangement: Apple's granted patent was initially reviewed in April 2010. The patent relates to the tempo of music for workouts.
Simulating Several Instruments using a Single Virtual Instrument: Apple's patent covers GarageBand in relation to virtual instruments. Apple has utilized this well on the iPad 2.
Notice: Patently Apple presents only a brief summary of granted patents with associated graphic(s) for journalistic news purposes as each such patent application and/or Granted Patent is revealed by the U.S. Patent & Trade Office. Readers are cautioned that the full text of any patent application and/or Issued Patent should be read in its entirety for further details. Patents shouldn't be digested as rumors or fast-tracked according to rumor time tables.
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In Other IP News: Apple has filed for the "Smart Cover" trademark in the US. The specifics of this news could be found in our updated report found here. Elsewhere, Foss Patents reports today that "August 5 hearing on preliminary injunction against Samsung too early, judge tells Apple."
Here are a Few Community Sites that are covering our Original Report
MacSurfer, Apple Enthusiast, Apple Investor News, Google Reader, Buzzbox, UpgradeOSX, TechWatching, Mac Hash, Macnews, iPhone World Canada, CBS MarketWatch, MacDailyNews, NFC Times and more.