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Apple Won Patents for Controlling HomeKit Accessories with iDevices, Eliminating the Home Button and Hover Controls

1 Cover control device to control HomeKit accessories


The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted Apple 30 newly granted patents today and in this report we briefly highlight three of them. The first covers iDevices controlling Home App / HomeKit accessories. The second covers eliminating the Home Button on iDevices. The last patent covers possible future hover controls for iDevices and more.  


Apple iDevices Controlling Home App / HomeKit Accessories


Apple was granted patent #10,368,378 that covers using an iDevice to control Home App. Technically, Apple notes that their invention relates to a wireless communication device (such as a smartphone or a smart watch) that uses one or more measurements (such as wireless ranging or radio-based distance measurements) to remotely control an object, such as a physical device or a virtual representation (or placeholder) associated with a physical device, at a physical reference location. In particular, the wireless communication device may implement a user-interface technique in which one or more measurements are used to remotely (e.g., from a distance and, in general, without physical contact) control operation of the object.


Apple's patent FIG. 5 below illustrates an example of control of an object using gestures, action gesture #510 which may involve a left and/or right rotation that corresponds to changing a value or setting, such as the volume of an entertainment device.


2 cover control devices


Apple notes that physical devices may include: an appliance (such as an oven, a toaster, a refrigerator, a dish washer or a laundry machine), another electronic device (such as a computer, a laptop, a tablet or a computing device), an entertainment device (such as a television, a display, a radio receiver or a set-top box), an audio device, a projector, a security device (such as an alarm or a door lock), a communication device (such as a smartphone), a monitoring device (such as a smoke detector or a carbon-monoxide detector), an environmental control (such as a thermostat, a light switch, or a shade), an accessory (such as a keyboard, a mouse or a speaker), a printer, a wearable device, a home-automation device."


It could also control a resource in an environment 108 (such as a transportation resource, a shared computing resource, a medical resource, a display resource, a security resource, an accessibility resource or a safety resource), etc. Moreover, virtual representation may be implemented as: a sticker, a picture, a piece of ceramic, a geo-fence, one or more coordinates defining a location, etc. In some embodiments, physical devices could include: a light switch, a thermostat, etc.


Eliminating the Home Button


Apple was granted patent #10,365,814 that covers Apple's method of eliminating the Home Button that first occurred on iPhone X in 2017. Apple's patent notes: "… there is a need for electronic devices with improved methods and interfaces for providing a home button replacement. Such methods and interfaces optionally complement or replace conventional methods for using a permanent home button on the front face of a device. Such methods and interfaces reduce the number, extent, and/or nature of the inputs from a user and produce a more efficient human-machine interface.


3 iPhone eliminating the home button


Hover Controls and Flexible Scanning Operations


Apple was granted patent #10,365,773 that covers controlling a touch based interface with touch or hover events. Apple's patents stated that "It is understood that a "touch event," as used in this disclosure, encompasses a finger or object touching the touch sensor panel (i.e., being in physical contact with the touch sensor panel), as well as the finger or object being in proximity to, but not touching, the touch sensor panel (e.g., hovering over the touch sensor panel).


4 x hover control of idevice UI


Beyond hover controls the invention focuses on touch sensor panels, and more particularly to flexible scanning operations to improve detection of a poorly grounded object at a pixelated touch sensor panel. It's a highly technical patent. For engineers wishing to dive in deeper, check out the full granted patent here.


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