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1 cover image for Apple patent report


Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that relates to electronic devices using a new wireless circuitry that includes Voltage Standing Wave Radio (VSWR) sensors that could primarily detect the angle of a user's fingers when gestures are being performed near a control or controller of a device such as a MacBook, future Mixed Reality Headset, smartglasses and more.


Apple notes that an electronic device may include wireless circuitry controlled by one or more processors. The wireless circuitry may include a set of two or more antennas communicably coupled to voltage standing wave ratio (VSWR) sensors. The VSWR sensors may gather VSWR measurements from radio-frequency signals transmitted using the set of antennas.


One or more processors may perform any desired operations based on the identified angular location. For example, the one or more processors may adjust subsequent communications by one or more of the antennas based on the angular location (e.g., by reducing a maximum transmit power level of one or more of the antennas). If desired, the one or more processors may adjust the direction of a signal beam produced by a phased antenna array based on the angular location (e.g., to steer the signal beam around the external object).


As another example, the one or more processors may identify a user input or gesture based on the angular location.


Apple's patent FIG. 1 below is a functional block diagram of an illustrative electronic device having voltage standing wave ratio (VSWR) sensors for detecting the angular location of an external object; FIG. 6 is a perspective view showing how an external object may be present at a given angular location over an electronic device surface.


2 Apple patent FIGS. 1  8 & 9


Apple's patent FIG. 8 above is a top view showing how multiple antennas may be used to detect the angular location of an external object; FIG. 9 is a side view showing how multiple antennas may be used to detect the angular location of an external object.


According to Apple, Electronic Device #10 of FIGS. 1 and 6 above could represent a great number of future devices including a MacBook, iMac, workstation, Mixed Reality Headset, iPhone, iPad, a HomePod, a gaming device, a television, smartglasses, in displays mounted in a vehicle and more. The wireless system could work through most materials including aluminum, glass, fiber composites, plastics and more.


In patent FIG. 6 it refers to an "external object #46," which translates, for the most part, to being a user's finger. In the example of FIG. 6, the control circuitry on the device #10 uses a spherical coordinate system to determine the location and orientation of a user's finger relative to a (lateral) surface #122 of the device which could be a surface of a housing wall.  


In the case of a mixed reality headset, a controller on the exterior of the headset would allow a user to point their finger close to a controller and direct action on the HMD's display.


To clarify, Apple notes that "The user input or gesture may, for example, form a user input used by software applications running on the device to perform any desired processing tasks, operations, or functions. The gestures may, for example, be used to control, perform, or coordinate on-screen actions displayed on a display of the device using software applications.


Apple's patent FIG. 7 below is a flow chart of illustrative operations involved in detecting the angular location of an external object using VSWR sensors and multiple antennas.  


3. Apple patent FIG. 7


This is a highly technical patent regarding wireless technology that wireless engineers may appreciate. For more details, review Apple's patent application number US 20220381895 A1.


Apple inventors


Bernhard Sogl: RF Systems Architect

Jochen Schrattenecker: RF Systems and Chip Architect

Joonhoi Hur: RF Systems Architect. Hur left Apple in July 2021 and is now the Corporate Vice President of Samsung Electronics


10.51FX - Patent Application Bar


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