Apple Wins Patents for Camera & NFC Alternative Technologies
The US Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of thirty-two newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today. In our final granted patent report of the day we focus on Apple's new NFC Alternative technology, a patent on location services and several camera related patents. And of course, we round off our report with a series of granted patents in our Final Patent Round Up covering an eclectic mix of technologies from virtual keyboards on through to multiple-use acoustic ports.
Apple Receives Granted Patent for a Method and Apparatus for Triggering Network Device Discovery
Apple has received a Granted Patent relating to techniques for triggering a process within a portable electronic device that identifies itself for purposes of establishing communications with another device that is in proximity. At the moment, NFC is the technology that's getting all of the attention lately in respect to making it easier for two mobile devices to share information. While Apple is likewise doing research with NFC, they're also working with an alternate methodology for which they've now gained a patent for.
In accordance with Apple's newly granted patent, a method for network device discovery monitors a compass output in a portable electronic device. As the portable device and an external device come closer to each other, a magnetic field signature is computed based on the monitored compass output. A determination is then made as to whether the computed signature could be associated with or implies that a previously defined type of electronic device (with which a network device discovery process can be conducted) is in close proximity. In other words, as the two devices come closer to each other, their respective magnetic characteristics cause the compass output to change in a way that implies that a network device discovery process should be initiated between the two devices.
The detected change in the compass output could be compared to one or more previously stored, compass output patterns (magnetic field signatures). Each of these previous patterns may have been determined empirically or otherwise, to be the magnetic profile of a given type of external device that has come into proximity. A previous compass output pattern that best matches the newly detected compass output pattern is selected, and the device identification type or protocol information of the matching pattern is then used to perform a network device discovery process (using other signaling mechanisms). For example, if the detected compass output pattern matches that of a typical smart phone, then a WiFi or Bluetooth setup protocol is initiated in the portable device.
Apple credits Patrick Piemonte, Ronald Huang and Parin Patel as the inventors of this granted patent which was originally filed in Q4 2009. For more information on this, see Patently Apple's original April 2011 report titled "Apple Invents New Peer-to-Peer Sharing Technology that Utilizes Unique Magnetic Compass and Supersonic Tone Methodologies."
Apple Receives Granted Patent for Location Based Services for iPhone
Apple has received a Granted Patent that relates to location based services.
In general, one aspect of Apple's invention could be embodied in methods that include the actions of detecting a picture taking event on a device; determining a current geographic location of the device; receiving location-based information based on the determined current geographic location, the location-based information including information corresponding to one or more relevant businesses in a vicinity of the determined current geographic location and further including information corresponding to one or more businesses ancillary to the picture taking event; and presenting the location-based information.
Apple credits Senior VP of iPhone Software Scott Forstall and his team consisting of Gregory Christie, Robert Borchers and Kevin Tiene as the inventors of this granted patent which was originally filed in Q1 2008. For more details, see granted patent 8,290,513.
Apple Receives Several Granted Patents for Camera Technologies
Apple has received a new series of Granted Patents today that relate to iDevice camera technologies. One of the main patents is titled "Using distance/proximity information when applying a point spread function in a portable media device."
Apple states that Image sharpness may be improved by focusing the optical image properly onto the image sensor that is part of the camera circuitry in the device. A moveable lens system, normally present in a higher end dedicated digital camera, can be used to achieve manual or automatic focusing. However, most smart phones lack such a feature since it tends to increase power consumption as well as result in additional bulk.
Apple's granted patent relates to a relatively low cost technique for improving the sharpness or quality of digital images captured by a handheld portable media device. A housing of the device has integrated therein a digital camera image sensor, a camera lens, and a sensor that detects a distance measure, which is a measure of distance between the housing and an object or target in a scene that is before the lens. The device is programmed to select a point spread function, PSF, based on the detected distance measure. The selected PSF is then applied to de-blur the captured image, for becoming the final picture of the scene that is taken by the user.
Apple credits Michael Yeh as the sole inventor of granted patent 8,289,438 which was originally filed for in Q3 2008. Another camera patent is titled "Image capturing device having continuous image capture." Apple was granted a related patent back in May 2012. A third camera patent granted to Apple today is titled "Image sensor with photosensitive thin film transistors and dark current compensation." For more on that, see granted patent 8,289,429.
Final Patent Round-Up
Over and above the granted patents that were specifically reported on today, we present you with links to the remaining granted patents in our Final Patent Round-Up as follows:
8,289,283 - Language input interface on a device (The Virtual Keyboard Patent)
8,290,179 - Multiple-use acoustic port
8,290,078 - System and method performing quadrature amplitude modulation by combining
co-sets and strongly coded co-set identifiers
8,289,813 - Devices and systems for outputting contextual information about an event for
which an alarm is set on an electronic device
8,289,785 - Integrated circuit with separate supply voltage for memory that is different
from logic circuit supply voltage
8,289,344 - Methods and apparatus for color uniformity
8,289,333 - Multi-context graphics processing
8,289,130 - Systems and methods for identifying unauthorized users of an electronic
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.
Sites Covering our Original Report
MacSurfer, Twitter, Facebook, Apple Investor News, Google Reader, Macnews, iPhone World Canada, The Fly on the Wall (stock market news), ZDNet Germany, University of Tennessee's MacVolPlace, Pando Daily, Reddit, Seeking Alpha, iDownloadBlog, Macworld UK, Terra Brazil, Slashdot, Digital Spy UK, SlashGear, CNET, Techmeme, Movil Zona Spain, Tweakers Belgium, Macgasm, Bright Netherlands, TechRadar UK, Onet Technowinki Poland, and more.
Some times Apple will acquire a patent with a good idea and the original inventor chose the graphic of a generic mobile device.
This isn't a design patent, Ed, so the concept is what matters here not the drawing. Unless it's a design patent, Apple is not obligated to show you a final product. Some of Apple's initial iPhone drawings were simply a big thick box. Obviously that's not what we ended up with. So stay focused on the substance of the NFC alternative technology rather than the shell of the device.
Posted by: Jack Purcher | October 18, 2012 at 11:56 AM
The first drawing in the 'Apple wins patent..." article may raise eyebrows.
The 'SECOND DEVICE' does not look like any Apple's device. Was is copied or plagiarized from another company's product with relocated function keys? Perhaps the name of the company that had such design should be spelled out or reference. Blackberry, maybe?
Posted by: ed | October 18, 2012 at 11:42 AM