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Apple Invents a Camera Design for Thinner iDevices using GRIN Technology Plus a New Accessibility App Tailored for Chinese and Japanese Users

1. New Cover - Apple Patent - GRIN
On August 15, 2013, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a series of 14 original patent applications from Apple. In this particular report we cover two distinct inventions. The first invention covers a new camera design specifically created for ever thinner iDevices and Macs. Apple could be first to market with a consumer camera using super advanced GRIN technology. The second invention is a new accessibility app that is tailored for Japanese and Chinese users. Considering that Apple's iPhone is the bestselling smartphone in Japan and is about to attack the Chinese market more aggressively with a new mid-level iPhone, it's only right that they begin to introduce more specialized software for these markets going forward.

Apple Invents New Housing Camera Lens Cover using Gradient Refractive Index Optics (GRIN) Technology


Apple is always in pursuit of creating ever slimmer design form factors. Whenever Jony Ive and his industrial design team spot a means of reducing or refining iDevice componentry to achieve their goal they do so even if it means reinventing a particular component. In one of Apple's latest patent filings we learn that they've found a way to reduce the depth of an iDevice or iSight camera by using a sophisticated method that includes the use of GRIN material.


By using the GRIN material in the housing camera lens cover, the light rays are bent by the GRIN material before the light rays reach the camera lens. This bending of the light rays reduces the optical total track length (TTL) of the camera module and also reduces high Chief Ray Angle (CRA) such that the z-height of the camera module may be reduced while maintaining the camera's imaging performance.


As illustrated in patent FIG. 4A below, the standard housing camera lens cover does not bend the incident light rays such that the bending of the light rays is entirely done by the camera lens in the camera module. In contrast, as shown in FIG. 4B, by using GRIN material in the housing camera lens cover 3, the housing camera lens cover 3 is used as an active element of the camera's optical system. GRIN material has a gradual distribution of the refractive index inside the material. Accordingly, once the incident light rays reach the housing camera lens cover made of GRIN material, the GRIN material bends the incident light rays as the light rays pass through the GRIN material.


2. Apple invention- housing lens cover using grin material

The new camera construction may be used on iDevices as well as future Macs.


GRIN stands for gradient refractive index optics. It's noted as being 3.5 times more powerful than glass. A 2012 report published by the Optical Society tells us that the technology came about through research by the Case Western Reserve University, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, and the PolymerPlus team.


This innovative lens, which is made up of thousands of nanoscale polymer layers, may one day provide a more natural performance in implantable lenses to replace damaged or diseased human eye lenses, as well as consumer vision products; it also may lead to superior ground and aerial surveillance technology.


Apple's latest patent application would strongly suggest that Apple's engineers may be one of the first in trying to integrate this advanced technology into a consumer product.


Patent Credits


Apple credits Shashikant Hegde as the sole inventor of patent application 20130208169 which was originally filed in Q1 2012. Hegde graduated from Georgia Institute of Technology in 2007 with a Ph.D. in Thermo-Mechanical Modeling and Reliability of High-Speed Optoelectronic Packaging. He now works at Apple.


Apple Invents Exemplar Descriptions of Homophones to Assist Visually Impaired Users


3. Apple patent figs 1 & 2 re new system to provide computer accessibility to visual impared

Apple's Patent Background


The Chinese and Japanese languages present a unique challenge with regard to devising an accessibility solution for visually impaired users because, unlike English, one cannot "spell" Chinese characters to distinguish among homophones. A homophone is a character or group of characters that are pronounced the same as another character or group. For example, in English the words "rain" and "reign" are homophonous and can be distinguished only by spelling out the words. In Chinese, words can be made of several Chinese characters that are homophones. The only way to distinguish these words from one another is by seeing the characters, which is not an option for visually impaired users.


Apple's Solution


Apple's invention provides systems, methods and computer program products that provide computer accessibility for visually impaired users by audibly presenting exemplary descriptions of homophones. Apple's invention will be especially applicable in China or Japan.


In some implementations, a given character can be described by using a common multi-character word that includes the character. For example, the Chinese character (rain) has the pronunciation y{hacek over (u)}, but other Chinese characters like (language), (feather) and (universe) share the same pronunciation. To describe (rain) uniquely the disclosed system and methods construct an "exemplar description," such as "," which when translated to English would say "y{hacek over (u)}" as in "falling rain." This method works well for describing commonly used Chinese characters (e.g., there are about 3,000-4,000 such Chinese characters) which occur as part of longer words.


In some implementations, rarely used characters can also be described. For example, a Chinese character that many native Chinese or Japanese speakers would rarely encounter since it is not used in modern Chinese or Japanese languages. To describe a rare Chinese or Japanese character, an Ideographic Description Sequence (IDS) can be used to split the character into its components. For example, the Chinese character can be split into two characters and, each of which can be read aloud individually as a description of the character.


Particular embodiments of the subject matter described in Apple's patent can be implemented to realize the following advantages. Accessibility is provided to Chinese or Japanese speaking users who cannot use conventional computers with the same level of accessibility that users of other languages (e.g., English) enjoy.


Patent Credits


Apple credits Karan Misra and Brent Ramerth as the inventors of patent application 201302009974 which was originally filed in Q1 2012.


One More Thing, About that Gifting Patent


Another patent application of Apple's was published today under the title "Media Gifting Devices and Methods." We covered this patent application extensively back in April 2012. The new application carries the same patent claims, background, summary and patent figures. So this isn't some new concept as some other tech sites would have you believe today. They're just catching up.   


The only tiny twist is that the new patent highlights "electronic devices configured to perform the gifting of digital media content," while the 2012 patent highlighted " electronic devices configured to transfer information relating to digital media content from one user's account to another user's account." At the end of the day, 99% of the patent verbiage is the same as their 2012 patent.


PA - Bar - Notice
Patently Apple presents a detailed summary of patent applications with associated graphics for journalistic news purposes as each such patent application is revealed by the U.S. Patent & Trade Office. Readers are cautioned that the full text of any patent application should be read in its entirety for full and accurate details. Revelations found in patent applications shouldn't be interpreted as rumor or fast-tracked according to rumor timetables. About Comments: Patently Apple reserves the right to post, dismiss or edit comments.



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