The US Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 13 newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today. Without a doubt the granted patent that screams out this morning is one that relates to Apple's forthcoming Tablet. The focus of the patent is on the tablet's proximity detection capabilities. The timing is unbelievable yet crucial in protecting Apple's new technology for larger tablets. Other granted patent notables include a color management system and a crucial patent relating to Apple's iChat.
Granted Patent: Proximity Detector for Tablets
Apple has been granted a major, if not core tablet centric patent which was covered in our recent tablet miniseries.
Apple's patent relates to proximity based systems and methods. The method includes sensing an object spaced away and in close proximity to the electronic device. The method also includes performing an action in the electronic device when an object is sensed.
The proximity detection system is configured to detect when an object such as a finger (or stylus) comes in close proximity to the computing device. Proximity sensing differs from touch sensing in that there is no contact. The sensing occurs above the surface of the housing. For example, the proximity detection system detects when an object such as a finger is placed in space above, and not in contact with, a surface of one or more regions of the computing device. The regions may include any side or any portion of a side of the computing device.
Proximity detection can be performed using a variety techniques. The techniques general depend on the object that is to be detected (e.g., finger, plastic, metal), the environmental conditions surrounding the computing device, the size of the computing device, and the costs associated with the proximity sensing technique, the resolution of the proximity sensing technique, etc. By way of example, the proximity detect system may be based on techniques such as capacitive, electric field, inductive, hall effect, reed, eddy current, magneto resistive, optical shadow, optical visual light, optical IR, optical color recognition, ultrasonic, acoustic emission, radar, sonar, conductive or resistive. In each of these cases, the proximity detection system may include one or more proximity sensors and/or switches.
Apple's Patent Figures: FIGS. 1, 2 and 3 are diagrams of an I/O platform. FIG. 4 is a diagram of a method of operating an I/O platform. FIG. 8 is a diagram of a proximity method of operating an electronic device. FIG. 15C, 17C and 17J illustrate user interface sequences with the latter two relating to iTunes. FIG. 19C illustrates a zooming target sequence using the GUI operational method.
Apple credits Steve Hotelling, Duncan Robert Kerr, Bas Ording, Jonathan Ive, Peter Kennedy, Anthony Fadell and Jeffrey Robbin as the inventors of Granted Patent 7,653,883, originally filed in Q3 2005. For more information, view this temporary link.
Granted Patent: Automatic Detection of Channel Bandwidth
A step-wise approach to automatically determining the bandwidth of a communication channel includes dividing the channel's potential bandwidth into a number of ranges. An initial range is then selected and a series of data packets specific to the selected range are transmitted from a first endpoint to a second endpoint, with the second endpoint determining one or more channel metrics based on the transmitted packets (e.g., measured transmission rates). If the metrics indicate the current range accurately reflects the channel's bandwidth, a measured transmission rate of the transmitted data packets is used as the channel's bandwidth. Otherwise, another range is selected and the process is repeated. The described approach rapidly determines channel bandwidth, even when the channel between the two endpoints is asymmetric. Techniques described herein are particularly beneficial when used in conjunction with multimedia conferencing applications.
Video Conferencing System: Apple's patent FIG. 1 shows, in block diagram form, a multimedia conference system. Referring to FIG. 3A,endpoint A 300 uses modem connection 305 to communicate with WAN 310 while endpoint B 315 uses LAN connection 320 to communicate with WAN 310. Referring now to FIG. 3B, endpoint C 325 uses DSL connection 330 to communicate with WAN 335 while endpoint D 340 uses LAN connection 345 to communicate with WAN 310.
Apple credits Hyeonkuk Jeong and Ryan Salsbury as the inventors of granted patent 7,653,719, originally filed in Q1 2004. One cited document dates back to 2001 which may indicate that this patent was instrumental in Apple's iChat launching in 2003.
Granted Patent: Color Management System
Patent Background: Color has the ability to communicate, to please, to excite, and to engage. For example, color makes a difference--often a dramatic difference--in photographs, graphics, layouts and the like. Getting color right early in a workflow, and keeping it right to the end, is increasingly critical in our fast-paced, deadline-driven digital world.
For each device in the workflow, the same combination of numerical color values will yield a different color. For example, a single pixel where R=128, G=128 and B=128 should produce a completely neutral gray tone. On some display devices, this gray will look warm, or reddish. On other devices it will look cool or bluish. These inherent disparities make it difficult to render the colors of an image on differing devices with consistency, accuracy and predictability. Additionally, they make it difficult to render colors of an image on a single display device over time as that display device changes over time. Furthermore, in some cases the content being displayed encompasses a set of colors beyond which the display can represent accurately. In these cases, it is important that the out-of-gamut colors be represented as faithfully as possible on the display.
Photographers, designers and more increasingly, everyday users, are frequently dismayed when they print an image and the color is wildly contrary to what was displayed on their computer screen. These disruptive surprises cost time and money and increase user frustration.
Patent Summary: "Color management profiles are created for display devices using color space characteristic values of the display device. The profile comprises multi-dimensional tables encapsulating the behavior of the display device with relation to color space characteristic values. In some embodiments, the display profile contains multiple dimensional tables that are optimized for different user environments, such as optimizing for saturation, relative calorimetric values, or perceptual display. In some embodiments, the tables are compliant with ICC Profile Specification Version 2 or 4. By using multi-dimensional tables that encapsulate the display behavior in a display profile, a color management system can more accurately and consistently perform color transformations, including in and out-of-gamut mapping."
Apple credits David Hayward as the sole inventor of granted patent 7,652,676, originally filed in Q4 2007.
Industrial Design Win: Third Generation iPod Nano
Apple credits Bartley Andre, Daniel Coster, Daniele De Iuliis, Evans Hankey, Richard Howarth, Jonathan Ive, Duncan Kerr, Shin Nishibori, Matthew Dean Rohrbach, Peter Russell-Clarke, Douglas Satzger, Calvin Seid, Christopher Stringer, Eugene Whang and Rico Zorkendorfer as the inventors of Granted Patent D608, 763, originally filed in Q3 2007.
Other Noteworthy Granted Patents Published Today
Apparatus and Method for Rotating the Display Orientation of a Captured image: This patent originally filed in 2005, generally relates to an apparatus and method for orienting an image. More particularly, the present invention is an apparatus and method for rotating a captured image to an orientation corresponding to an imaging subsystem's orientation at the time in which the image was captured. For more information, view this temporary link.
Method and Apparatus for Selectively Switching IC Ports to Card Slots Through the use of Three Switches per Switch Group: A system that selectively couples one or more IC chips to card slots. The system contains a Z-bar switch which includes: a select input; a first IC port coupled to a first IC pin; a second IC port coupled to a second IC pin; a first card slot port coupled to a first card slot pin; and a second card slot port coupled to a second card slot pin. If the select input receives a first control pattern, the Z-bar switch is configured to: couple the first IC port to the first card slot port; and to couple the second IC port to the second card slot port. If the select input receives a second control pattern, the Z-bar switch is configured to: couple the first IC port to the second card slot port; leave the second IC port floating; and to leave the first card slot port floating. For more information, view this temporary link.
Interface for Providing Modeless Timeline Based Selection of an Audio or Video File: A timeline-based approach for selecting and manipulating audio tracks is presented. This is accomplished via a graphical user interface that provides users with a series of visual cues and enhancements when selecting a particular area of an audio track depicted within the interface. These visual cues are rendered as a display region having multiple other display areas, components or interface components that provide the user with a location for initiating actions upon the file. User input provided to the timeline component generates a selection overlay that indicates a selected area of the audio file. The user can perform numerous actions with that audio file, such as copying and pasting. The user can do this more quickly and efficiently because the user is not required to switch tools. Everything is accomplished "modelessly." Multiple instances of the selection overlay applied, for example, across multiple audio tracks may achieve even more powerful results. For more information, view this temporary link.
Notice: Patently Apple presents only a brief summary of patents with associated graphic(s) for journalistic news purposes as each such patent application and/or Granted Patent is revealed by the U.S. Patent & Trade Office. Readers are cautioned that the full text of any patent application and/or Issued Patent should be read in its entirety for further details. For additional information on any granted patent noted above, simply feed the individual patent number(s) into this search engine.
Please note that any of the temporary links presented in today's report are in fact temporary and may redirect you to unrelated patents in the future. In such cases refer back to the search engine instructions above.