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Some of the Technical Magic behind the iPhone Wins Patents

1 - Some of the Technical Magic behind the iPhone Wins Patents
Like millions of Macites around the world, I simply love my new iPad with its Resolutionary Retina Display. It's a stunningly crisp display with no equal. I also happen to be in the market for a new smartphone later this year, and so I wanted to be fair and at least take a look at Samsung's new Galaxy Note smartphone. I like taking notes and their smart pen intrigued me. But once I saw the drabness of the Note's display in contrast with the iPad, I just chuckled. Apple has so raised the bar on display quality that it will be very difficult to now want anything short of the Retina Display for any device. This brings us to the very point of today's second patent report: Apple' attention to the tiniest of iOS device details. In our second patent report of the day, we take a look at three granted patents. The first covers Apple's reinvention of the iPhone's backlight unit which may account for its current brilliance. The second patent shows us how Apple wanted to save money on manufacturing costs on a touch display and walked away with a new method for manufacturing a thinner touch display. And lastly, the third patent covers the hybrid playlist mechanism found in Cover Flow. Yes, they're all tiny pieces of a final product, but when added together – they help to deliver that total magical experience found in Apple devices. It's that fanatical attention to detail that Apple's competitors fail to comprehend at their own peril.


Apple Granted Patent for iPhone Display Structures with Controlled Chassis Reflections


Apple has received a Granted Patent for a new way of working with LED backlighting.


Apple's background begins by stating that a cellphone may have a touch screen display that is based on a backlit liquid crystal display unit. This type of display has an array of addressable liquid crystal pixels. A backlight provides light for the display. When the backlight is active, light from the backlight is transmitted through the liquid crystal array for viewing by a user.


Backlights for displays are often based on light-emitting diodes (LEDs). An LED-based backlight includes a light guide plate formed from a material such as polycarbonate and an LED light source. The LED light source emits light into one of the edges of the light guide plate. The light guide plate distributes the LED light through the liquid crystal array.


The liquid crystal array, the light guide plate, and other display structures are typically mounted within a plastic chassis ("p-chassis"). At the edges of the light guide plate, some of the light escapes and strikes the chassis. The chassis has sidewalls that reflect the escaping light back into the light guide plate. The light reflected from the chassis tends to create an undesirable bright stripe of excessive light intensity along the edge of the light guide plate. A masking structure such as an enlarged bezel could be used to block the light in the bright stripe, but large bezels add bulk and tend not to be aesthetically appealing.


It would therefore be desirable to provide improved displays for electronic devices.


Apple's Improved LED Backlight Display Unit


Apple's invention relates to a new backlight display unit that may have a liquid crystal layer interposed between respective glass layers. An array of electrodes may be used form an array of controllable pixels for the liquid crystal display unit.


The light guide plate may be mounted on a reflector. A light source such as a light-emitting diode source may be used to launch light into an edge of the light guide plate. Some of the light that is launched into the light guide plate is confined by total internal reflection. Some of the launched light escapes downwards and is reflected upwards by the reflector. Light that is scattered upwards in the vertical direction passes through the liquid crystal display unit and serves as backlight for the display.


The light guide plate may be mounted in a rectangular opening in a chassis. The edges of the chassis and corresponding edges of the light guide plate may be configured to minimize excess light reflection. For example, the edges of the chassis may be oriented at non-zero angles with respect to a vertical axis. Coatings such as opaque ink layers and other layers of reflection-reducing material may be formed on the edges to reduce light reflections. Rectangular and curved undercuts, step shapes, textured surfaces, grooved surfaces, and other surfaces may also be used to minimize unwanted reflections. If desired, reflective coatings may be used to help direct reflected light in desired directions and thereby reduce unwanted excessive light intensity along the edges of the display.


2 - Apple's Improved LED Backlight Display Unit

About Apple's Patent Figures: FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an iPhone; FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional side view of an illustrative display with a light-emitting diode backlight; FIG. 3 is a perspective view of a light guide plate and corresponding chassis; and FIG. 4 is a top view of a portion of a display showing how a display chassis may be provided with recesses that receive mating tabs on a light guide plate.


Apple credits David Doyle, Joshua Wurzel and Shawn Gettemy as the inventors of this patent which was originally filed in Q2 2010. Apple's patent covers 20 patent claims.


Apple Wins a Patent for the iPhone's Integrated Touch Sensor Panel on the Back Side of its Cover Glass


Apple has received a Granted Patent for the fabrication of a touch sensor panel on the back side of a cover glass.


3 - 1 - Apple patent, fabrication of a touch sensor panel on the backside of cover glass

Apple's patent FIG. 4b illustrates an exemplary stackup of SITO formed on the back of a cover glass. Patent FIGS. 6a and 6b noted below illustrate exemplary processing for combining dry-etch shaping with thin film deposition on the cover glass.


4 - Apple patent - fab of touch sensor panel on back side of cover glass

In general, touch sensor panels can be implemented as an array of pixels formed by multiple drive lines crossing over multiple sense lines (e.g. columns), where the drive and sense lines are separated by a dielectric material. However, touch sensor panels having "drive and sense lines" formed on the bottom and top sides of a single substrate can be expensive to manufacture. One reason for this additional expense is that thin-film processing steps must be performed on both sides of the glass substrate, which requires protective measures for the processed side while the other side is being processed. Another reason is the cost of the flex circuit fabrication and bonding needed to connect to both sides of the substrate.


Apple's Fabrication of a Touch Sensor Panel on a Singulated Substrate


Apple's invention relates to the fabrication of a touch sensor panel having touch sensors fabricated on a substrate for detecting touch events (the touching of one or multiple fingers or other objects upon a touch-sensitive surface at distinct locations at about the same time). When forming a touch sensor panel on a substrate, if the substrate is singulated before processing, the separation step is relatively easy to accomplish with laser or wheel scribing and breaking, followed by optional grinding and polishing to achieve a cosmetically pleasing shape and touch. Because separation is performed before processing, protection of sensitive circuitry during grinding and polishing is not needed. However, it can be desirable from a manufacturing perspective to perform all processing steps on a substrate sheet before separating it into separate parts with rounded corners (in the case of no bezel).


To perform processing on a substrate sheet before separation, a removable sacrificial layer such as a photoresist can be applied over the sensitive circuitry. Next, the parts can be scribed and separated to get individual parts, and grinding and polishing steps can be performed prior to removing the sacrificial layer. In alternative embodiments, after the protective sacrificial layer is applied, the bulk of the substrate sheet can be dry-etched using a very aggressive anisotropic etching that etches primarily in the z-direction. This process is similar to reactive ion etching, in which photoresist is applied to the areas to be preserved, and the unwanted areas are then etched away. In this embodiment, the etching can be patterned using photolithography to create rounded corners or any other shape. The photoresist can then be removed.


Apple credits Steve Hotelling, John Zhong and Joseph Clayton as the inventors of this patent which was originally filed in Q1 2008.


Apple Wins Patent for Hybrid Playlist


Apple has received a Granted Patent that relates to playing media file. The media files of the playlist include one or more audio files and one or more video files. Playing a first video file of the playlist on the mobile device includes playing an audio component and a video component of the first video file.


In their patent background, Apple states that conventional mobile devices can include applications that provide various services, such as audio services and video services. Typically, an audio application can only play audio files. If an audio application is able to play a video file, the audio application can generally only play an audio component of the video file. An example video file is a music video that includes an audio track that is separate from a video track.


A user who wishes to play a music video included in a hybrid playlist of media files using an audio application of a mobile device is typically limited to listening to the audio track of the music video and viewing a still image associated with the music video. In order to view the video component of the music video, the user must generally exit the audio application and launch a video application on the mobile device to play both the audio component and the video component of the music video.


Apple's Solution: A Hybrid Playlist in the Form of Cover Flow


Apple's patent covers a technique, method, apparatus, and system for playing media files and in particular, a hybrid playlist on a mobile device.


In general, one aspect of the subject matter described in this specification can be embodied in methods that include the actions of playing a first video file of a playlist on a mobile device, the playlist including one or more audio files and one or more video files, where playing the first video file includes playing on the mobile device an audio component and a video component of the first video file. Other embodiments of this aspect include corresponding systems, apparatus, and computer program products.


These and other embodiments can optionally include one or more of the following features. The method can further include playing an audio file of the playlist on the mobile device, where playing the audio file includes displaying on the mobile device an image associated with the audio file and playing on the mobile device an audio component of the audio file.


The video file can be played with a landscape orientation before the audio file is played and the audio file is played in a presentation mode with a landscape orientation. The video file can be played after the audio file is played and the audio file is played in a presentation mode with a portrait orientation or a Cover Flow mode with a landscape orientation. The one or more video files can include at least one of a movie, a television show, a music video, or a video podcast. The playlist can be determined by a user of the mobile device. The mobile device includes a multi-touch-sensitive display.


5 - 1 - Apple wins patent for hybrid playlist


6 - 2 - Apple wins hybrid playlist patent - screenshot example

Using Cover Flow Mode is one of the iPod and iPhone's little magic features that make playing iTunes /your music, a pleasure. Most competitors have yet to match Apple's iTunes magic to their devices. You could simply listen to the audio or your tunes or switch to video seamlessly.


Apple credits Steve Lemay, Charles Pisula, Sean Kelly, Patrick Coffman and Imran Chaudhri as the inventors of this patent which was originally filed in Q1 2009.


Final Patent Round-Up


Over and above the granted patents that were specifically reported on today, we present you with links to a few other interesting ones below:  


Patent 8,155,336 Wireless-headset with integrated media player: See our October 2009 report titled "Apple May Repurpose Bluetooth Headset into Next Gen iPod Shuffle" for details.


Patent 8,154,650 Electronic device having a camera flash redirector: See our September 2010 report titled "Apple Working on the Next Wave of Digital Camera Technologies" for details.


Patent 8,152,565 Sealed connectors for portable electronic devices


Patent 8,155,514 Light isolating protective cover for small form factor electronic device


7  camera protective covers - Apple patent win

One More Thing


South Korea's etnews reports today that Samsung Electronics and Apple are Moving Secretly to Hide Their Designs


Notice: Patently Apple presents only a brief summary of granted patents with associated graphics for journalistic news purposes as each Granted Patent is revealed by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Readers are cautioned that the full text of any Granted Patent should be read in its entirety for full details. About Comments: Patently Apple reserves the right to post, dismiss or edit comments.


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