Apple Won 51 Patents Today Covering an Optical Projection Camera for Interpreting Hand Gesturing Commands & more
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted Apple 51 newly granted patents today. In this report we cover a possible Apple Watch hand gesturing system based on interpreting a user's skin extending and contracting to signal commands. A second granted patent covers an advanced 3D camera (like TrueDepth) that introduces a photonics module for optical projection for interpreting in-air hand gestures to control aspects of the user interface. Other granted patents referenced in this report relate to Apple Pencil and the AirPods Case. We wrap up this week's granted patent report with our traditional listing of the remaining granted patents that were issued to Apple today.
Apple Watch Motion and Gesture Input
Apple was granted patent #10,503,254 today which covers a possible future Apple Watch that could detect specific hand gestures to perform specific actions. This future Apple Watch could have multiple photodiodes, each sensing light at a different position on the bottom surface of the watch that faces skin of a user. The invention covers hand gestures by recognizing patterns in sensor data that are characteristic of each hand gesture, as the user's tissue expands and contracts and anatomical features in the tissue move during the gesture.
Apple's patent FIGS. 2A-2D below are examples of hand clench and hand flap gestures. Variations of these gestures and other gestures entirely may be trained on and detected.
For more details, see our original report titled "Apple adds more Distinct Hand Gesturing Features Designed to Work with Future Versions of Apple Watch," for more details here.
iDevices with Integrated Photonics Module for Optical Projection
Today, Apple was granted patent 10,506,148 for integrated photonics module for optical project in iDevices. Patently Apple first covered this invention back in 2015 which derived from their acquisition of Israeli firm PrimeSense. PrimeSense had filed for a patent in Q2 2014. The 2015 report was the first granted patent under "Apple Inc."
While the patent is about the nuts and bolts of creating a 3D camera, the patent mentions at one point that "The 3D map of the user's hand (and/or other parts of the user's body) may be used in a gesture-based computer interface."
Apple's patent FIG. 1 noted above is a schematic side view of an imaging system; FIG. 12 is a schematic sectional view of an Integrated Photonics Module (IPM).
Apple integrated their TrueDepth camera with the introduction of iPhone X that used advanced Face ID. Whether the photonics module for optical projection to read hand gestures is already in place or to be added is unknown at this time.
A year ago Patently Apple posted a report titled "Apple could be onboard the 2019 3D Camera trend for Smartphones that will introduce In-Air Gesture Controls." While LG was first to implement such a system, it was difficult to use and critics dismissed it as a failure.
Whether Apple will be able to deliver workable hand gesturing capabilities in future iDevices is unknown at this time.
Other Granted Patents of Mild Interest today Include:
Relating to Apple Pencil: Granted Patent #10,503,287 is titled "Adjustable handheld stylus." This granted patent relating to Apple Pencil was originally covered as a patent application by Patently Apple back in March of this year. You could review the report in full here for more details.
Designing a single stylus diameter like Apple Pencil is simply mimicking the diameter of a natural pencil or pen. But Apple engineer Paul Wang, who is a product designer and senior input technologist believes that Apple Pencil could be redesigned in a way that could inflate the circumference of Apple Pencils so as to accommodate a wider range user's need for a better grip experience. Wang also has additional ideas of interest covered in today's granted report.
Relating to AirPods Case: Granted Patent #10,506,324 is titled "Wireless headset carrying case with digital audio output port." The patent covers the AirPods case working with a boombox and remote controller.
The Remaining Patents granted to Apple Today