Location Based Social Networking & Video Calling Coming to iPhone
Apple Design Wins: Animation GUI for iPhone & LED Cinema Display

Apple Granted a Huge Patent Win for 3D Virtual Apple Store

The US Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 9 newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today in addition to two design wins. The notables within this group of granted patents includes one relating to the MacBook Air's "Now-You-See-It, Now-You-Don't" Port Hatch, another for a water detection system ensuring that warranty claims aren't fraudulent and the biggie of the day, without a doubt, is Apple's granted patent for an exciting future 3D Virtual Apple Store. This is going to be wild when Apple delivers on this concept.

Granted Patent: An Apple Virtual Store

In April 2008 a very exciting Apple patent application came to light. Our coverage of this patent was in the form a special report titled "Will Apple Open a Store in Second Life?" Today, One of Apple's Virtual Store Patents have been granted, paving the way for Apple to venture into this new and exciting 3D Internet under construction at this very moment.



The goals of both online shops and physical stores are generally the same--facilitating the purchase of goods and services by customers. In some cases, online shopping offers advantages over shopping in a physical store. For example, online shops are often open continuously, whereas most physical stores have set hours. Online shoppers are also able to leverage features such as search functionality while physical shoppers are not. However, one drawback of online shopping is that the experience can feel sterile and isolating. Customers in such an environment may be less likely to have positive feelings about the online shopping experience, may be less inclined to engage in the online equivalent of window shopping (e.g., will not linger in front of a display), and may ultimately spend less money than their counterparts who shop in physical stores.


Therefore it would be desirable to improve the experience of online shopping.

Apple's patent FIG. 9 shown above, illustrates an embodiment of an interface to an online store. The example shown is an implementation of region 112 of FIG. 1 as rendered in a browser. Alice, a character represented as an example in the patent, "is visiting the Acme website at noon. Accordingly, a sun (904) is included in region 112. If Alice were to return later in the day, a moon or star icon might be shown instead of sun 904. Other indicators, such as different color schemes during the fall season or winter holidays can also be included."


If the patent even covers minute detailing such as natural outdoor lighting that reflects the time of day and/or seasonal outdoor schemes, then we could be assured that Apple's 3D Virtual Store environment will be very extensive in and outside of the store. Sounds like it could entail a more developed Virtual World beyond just their store. Apple has gone out of their way to make sure that the patent graphics are painfully dull so as to keep the impact of such a virtual address a stunning revelation when Steve Jobs unveils it at some future event.

Apple credits David Koski as the sole inventor of Granted Patent 7,660,749, originally filed in Q3 2006. For more information, view this temporary link.

Granted Patent: Apple's "Now-You-See-It, Now-You-Don't" Port Hatch

Mobile devices such as notebook computers are becoming increasingly thinner. As a result, connection systems need to be reduced in size to accommodate smaller form factors. A problem when reducing the size of a connection system is that the reduction is limited by the size of the largest port.


The patent designs originally illustrated the port hatch at the rear of a notebook. Apple chose to place the port hatch on the side of the MacBook Air as shown above. Apple also reduced the number of connector receptacles.

Apple credits Gavin Reid, Chris Lightenberg and Bartley Andre as the inventors of Granted Patent 7,658,626, originally filed in Q4, 2008.


Granted Patent: Water Detection Arrangement

Water exposure is among major reasons that may cause significant malfunction of devices, such as electronic devices, which include electronic, mechanical, or chemical components. Therefore, verification of significant water exposure (or water immersion) is important to manufacturers of the devices. For example, for purposes such as warranty claim assessment, trouble-shooting for repairs, and product development, a manufacturer of electronic devices typically needs to verify whether a malfunctioning device has been immersed in water.

An electronic device, such as an iPhone, includes a detector configured to provide at least one visual indication after being immersed in water. The detector may include a moisture-indicating portion and a light-permitting moisture-proof membrane. The detector may be disposed inside at least one of the enclosure and the hole such that at least a portion of the detector is visible through the hole from outside of the enclosure without dismantling or opening the electronic device.

3 - iPhone Water Detection Arrangement

Apple's patent FIG. 2A illustrates devices with a detector for verifying water immersion of the devices without opening or dismantling the devices. FIGS. 4A-B illustrate the detector in the example of FIG. 2A before and after water immersion of one of the devices. The patent specifically points to the device being a cell phone – though this patent could to any of Apple's portable devices including iPods and perhaps their new iPad.

Apple credits Emery Sanford, Stephen Zadesky, Philip Hobson, Evans Hankey, Stephen Lynch Tang Yew Tan and Erik Wang as the inventors of Granted Patent 7,658,095, originally filed in Q4 2007.

Other Noteworthy Granted Patents Published Today

Synchronization Methods and Systems: Apple's patent relates to systems and methods for synchronizing data between two or more data processing systems such as a desktop computer system and a handheld computer system. The patent also covers widget synchronization architectures, methods, systems, and computer readable media. For more information on granted patent 7,660,831, view this temporary link.

Systems and Methods for Replacing Open Windows in a Graphical User Interface: Apple's abstract states that "Systems and methods for returning windows to an original location are described. When springing already open windows to a new location on a display space, it is desired to return that window to its original location for certain situations. A list is provided when the springing operation is initialized which captures information used to return the sprung window. According to exemplary embodiments, the relocation of various windows is tracked to ensure that each window is returned to an original location. For more information on Apple's granted patent RE41,113, view this temporary link.

Method and Apparatus for Chaining Two or More Tweens to Provide Non-Linear Multimedia Effects: Apple's invention relates generally to the creation, integration, and publication of digital media and more particularly to an improved method to generate non-linear effects, such as acceleration of an object and the fading in and out of a volume level, by chaining two or more tweens. For more information on granted patent 7,659,896, view this temporary link.

Electrical components coupled to circuit boards: Apple's invention can facilitate the coupling between electrical components and a circuit board after the circuit board is inserted into a housing of an electronic device. An electrical component can be integrated with a flexible circuit of another electrical component. The flexible circuit can be electrically and mechanically coupled to the circuit board after the circuit board is inserted into the housing. Alternatively, electrical contacts can be disposed on a body of the electrical component and a complementary set of electrical contacts can be disposed on the circuit board. When the circuit board is disposed within a receptacle of the electrical component, the electrical contacts on the electrical component are coupled directly to the electrical contacts on the circuit board.


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.

Update: Contrary to the UPSTO's own Patent Glossary of Terms concerning the prefix "RE" being strictly defined as "Reexamination" and nothing but such, Apple's own patent states the following:  "More than one reissue application has been filed for the reissue of U.S. Pat. No. 6,072,488. This application is a reissue of U.S. Pat. No. 6,072,488 and is also a continuation of application Ser. No. 10/165,040 filed Jun. 6, 2002, which is a reissue of U.S. Pat. No. 6,072,488." The USPTO states that a reissue application is "an application for a patent to take the place of an unexpired patent that is defective in one or more particulars." References to RE41,113 being "Reexamined" have been removed from this report, February 10, 2010.


Excellent contribution Kevin.

I'm a fan of Google's "street view" and this only makes sense. I was visiting Montreal on Street View because I have friends there and it was great to see where they live and what restaurants they eat in etc. But I couldn't go in the restaurant. In the future, I will - and that's a fantastic contribution that will benefit both commercial establishments and consumers. We'll be able to check out a restaurant, their menu and maybe, some day, make our own reservations!

Apple's store could offer a realistic view as well, which was touched on in the Tablet Prophecies miniseries Part Two:

The virtual store may be like a 3D game or it could very well take on a "street view" type of real-world view. Whatever Apple has in mind, should they execute on this concept, will be one of the best to be sure.

The 3D online store is currently being tested by Google (streetview) for a store. I often thought that online grocery shopping needed a step up. currently online grocery shopping involves lists and lists. I would love if we could visit a local virtual store and go to the exact virtual shelf.

See: http://phandroid.com/2010/02/04/google-store-view-under-development/

FWIW: David Koski seems to have come to Apple after leaving NeXT and founding RunningStart.

David was one of the original architects of Enterprise Object Frameworks [EOF] at NeXT which was crucial for Openstep and WebObjects when WOF was ObjC. It's nice to see him back on-board.

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