Apple won 44 Patents today covering Future Smart Fabrics for Clothing, Apple Watch Bands and Vehicle Upholstery and much more
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 44 newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today. In this particular report we focus on Apple's granted patent relating to future smart fabrics that could be incorporated in clothing, Apple Watch bands, MacBook cases through to car seat upholstery and beyond. We also briefly touch on a granted patent covering health monitoring interfaces for iPhone and Apple Watch. And as always, we wrap up this week's granted patent report with our traditional listing of the remaining granted patents that were issued to Apple today.
Fabric Sensing incorporated into Clothing +
Traditional electronic devices may include a variety of input devices, including buttons, keys, mice, trackballs, joysticks, and the like. Some traditional electronic devices may include a touch panel or touch screen that is configured to receive a touch input from a user. However, many traditional input devices and touch sensors are formed using rigid materials and/or a rigid substrate sheet and, therefore, may be limited to certain form factors. Therefore, it may be advantageous that input devices be formed from flexible materials that may be more easily adapted for use in a variety of applications.
Apple's latest fabric related invention relates to touch-sensitive devices and, more specifically, a textile-based touch-sensitive device.
In some embodiments, the touch-sensitive textile device includes a first set of conductive threads oriented along a first direction, and a second set of conductive threads interwoven with the first set of conductive threads and oriented along a second direction.
The device may also include a sensing circuit that is operatively coupled to the first and second set of conductive threads. The sensing circuit may be configured to apply a drive signal to the first and second set of conductive threads to produce a charge on each of the first and second set of conductive threads. The sensing circuit may also be configured to detect a variation in charge or on any one of the first and second set of conductive threads.
In general, it may be advantageous to implement touch-sensitive functionality using a broad range of materials that can be integrated into a number of flexible and versatile form factors. In some implementations, a touch-sensitive textile may be incorporated into a consumer electronic product, including for example, a wearable electronic device. For example, the touch-sensitive textile may be incorporated into a portion of the band or lanyard that is used to secure the device to the body of a user.
A touch-sensitive textile may also be incorporated into an article of clothing such as a shirt, jacket, glove, or other textile-based garment. For example, a touch-sensitive textile may be incorporated into a sleeve, pocket, or other portion of a garment that is readily accessible to the use.
In some embodiments, a touch-sensitive textile may be incorporated into an accessory, including, for example, a purse, wallet, handbag, backpack, and or other accessory having including textile element. A touch-sensitive textile may also be incorporated into an item that is not worn, including, for example, a cloth, rug, tapestry, upholstery, or other fabric-based article or component.
The touch-sensitive textile may be incorporated or integrated with other electronic components or electronic circuitry to form a touch-sensitive textile device. In some implementations, a touch-sensitive textile device may be configured to recognize a touch gesture or gestures on a surface of the textile.
The touch gesture(s) may include a sweep or movement of the user's finger across the surface of the textile that may be interpreted as a command or other user input. In some implementations, the touch-sensitive textile device may be configured to detect and measure the force of a touch on the textile, which may be used to interpret additional user inputs and/or commands.
Apple's patent FIG. 1 noted below depicts an example system of devices including a touch-sensitive textile device. In particular, FIG. 1 depicts a touch-sensitive textile device that is incorporated into an article of clothing that can be worn by a user. In the example depicted in FIG. 1, the touch-sensitive textile device is incorporated into the sleeve of a garment.
Apple's patent FIGS. 2A-B above depict an example self-capacitive touch-sensitive textile device.
Apple's patent FIGS. 4A-B below depict an example two-layer resistive touch-sensitive textile device in accordance with some embodiments; and FIGS. 5A-B depict an example two-layer capacitive touch-sensitive textile device in accordance with some embodiments.
This is Apple's third granted patent for this smart fabric invention. For more, review granted patent 11,204,656 that added an additional 17 new patent claims.
Advancing the use of smart fabrics, Apple's Project Titan team of engineers have begun to advance smart fabrics into inventions relating to uses in vehicle upholstery and other materials in a vehicle. A granted patent issued to Apple in 2020 covered this extensively. Apple's patent FIG. 14 below is from that patent.
User Interfaces for Health Monitoring
Apple was also granted a patent today for Health Monitoring GUIs relating to iPhone and Apple Watch that could be reviewed here. Apple's patent FIG. 6F below illustrates first electronic device 600A displaying, on display 602, a first page 614 of the tutorial for performing initial setup of the ECG management features and associated ECG application.
Key Design Patent Granted to Apple
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The Remaining Patents Granted to Apple Today