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Apple Racks Up another Major Multi-Touch Patent for the iPad

The US Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 7 newly granted patents and 5 design related patents for Apple Inc. today. The two notables within this group include one relating to Apple's iChat feature known as "Take Video Snapshot," and the other relating to a major granted patent for a multipoint screen. That patent is specifically focused on a larger two handed Tablet or as the patent defines as a Tablet PC. It almost appears that Apple held back their tablet, known as the iPad, until certain key patents came to light. Apple's IPS patent came to light on January 7 and was highlighted in our special report titled Apple's iPad: Welcome to the Revolution – and on January 26, Apple was granted a major multi-touch tablet patent covering such things as a larger virtual keyboard which debuted on the iPad in connection with their word processor called "Pages" and Apple's Mail. Todays granted patent represents Apple's third patent in this quarter thus far – and further protects Apple's multi-touch technologies against challengers and would-be competitors such as Google.

Granted Patent: Multipoint Screen


Apple's patent first notes that previous forms of Tablet PC's had a major problem or flaw in their design in that lacked the ability to track multiple points of contact simultaneously. Apple's granted patent finds a solution to this problem. It's about touch panel's having a transparent capacitive sensing medium configured to detect multiple touches or near touches that occur at the same time and at distinct locations in the plane of the touch panel and to produce distinct signals representative of the location of the touches on the plane of the touch panel for each of the multiple touches.


Apple's patent FIG. 6 is a partial top view of a transparent multiple point touch screen 100. The multipoint touch screen is capable of sensing the position and the pressure of multiple objects at the same time. This particular touch screen is based on self capacitance and thus it includes a plurality of transparent capacitive sensing electrodes 102, which each represent different coordinates in the plane of the touch screen. The electrodes are configured to receive capacitive input from one or more objects touching the touch screen in the vicinity of the electrodes. When an object is proximate an electrode, the object steals charge thereby affecting the capacitance at the electrode. The electrodes are connected to a capacitive sensing circuit 104 through traces 106 that are positioned in the gaps 108 found between the spaced apart electrodes. The electrodes are spaced apart in order to electrically isolate them from each other as well as to provide a space for separately routing the sense traces. The gap is preferably made small so as to maximize the sensing area and to minimize optical differences between the space and the transparent electrodes.


 Apple credits Steve Hotelling, Joshua Strickon and Brian Huppi as the inventors of granted patent 7,663,607, originally filed in Q2 2004. For more information, view this temporary link.


Granted Patent: iChat's "Take Video Snapshot" Feature


Apple's abstract states that "A digital image capture system and method uses a display device to illuminate a target with light for improved image capture under poor lighting conditions. Various characteristics of the flash (e.g., brightness, color, duration, etc.) can be adjusted to improve image capture. Users are provided with feedback (e.g., live video feed, audio and/or visual countdowns, etc.) to assist them in preparing for image capture. The captured images are seamlessly integrated with existing applications (e.g., video conferencing, instant text messaging, etc.)."


Apple credits Jean-Pierre Ciudad, Alexandre Aybes, Peter Western, Gregory Christie and Scot Forstall as the inventors of Granted Patent 7,663,691 titled "Image capture using display device as light source," originally filed in Q4 2005. Photo Credit: TUAW. Also see: Taking a snapshot of a video chat.


Other Noteworthy Granted Patents Published Today


Hybrid Low Power Computer Mouse: This invention relates generally to low power user input devices. More specifically, the invention describes an ultra low power computer mouse having an optical tracking engine and inertial tracking engine that cooperate to provide velocity data to a computing device. Apple's patent likely relates to their previous mouse known as Mighty Mouse being that their patent places emphasis on optical tracking rather than the current Mighty Mouse's emphasis on a Laser-Tracking Engine: "Magic Mouse uses powerful laser tracking that's far more sensitive and responsive on more surfaces than traditional optical tracking." For more information on granted patent 7,663,601, view this temporary link.


Efficient Techniques for Modifying Audio Playback Rates: The present invention relates to audio playback and, more particularly, to efficient playback rate adjustment on a portable media device. For more information on granted patent 7,664,558, view this temporary link.


An audio playback system, comprising: a user interface that enables a user of the audio playback system to specify a selected playback rate SR for an input audio stream that is faster or slower than a normal playback rate NR; a memory for storage of at least one rate adjustment parameter, the at least one rate adjustment parameter comprising an overlap frequency OF, wherein the overlap frequency OF is related to the selected playback rate SR; a processing device having limited computational resources operatively connected to the user interface and the memory, the processing device being operable to: receive the input audio stream associated with the normal playback rate NR, wherein the input audio stream is comprised of a plurality of audio blocks, determine the overlap frequency OF based on the selected playback rate SR; generate a modified audio stream for any value of the selected playback rate SR by modifying every Nth audio block of the plurality of audio blocks, wherein N is an integer value corresponding to an integer portion of the overlap frequency OF; and an audio output device for outputting the modified audio stream, wherein if the selected playback rate SR is greater than 1.0 and less than 2.0, indicating faster than normal playback, then the overlap frequency OF is equal to 1/(SR-1), and if the selected playback rate SR is less than 1.0, indicating slower than normal playback, then the overlap frequency OF is equal to 0.5/((1/SR)-1). For more information on granted patent 7,664 558, view this temporary link.


Computer System Integrating Different Data Types into a Single Environment: The present invention relates to the field of manipulating information in a computer system. Specifically, the present invention relates to the manipulation of different types of data such as alphanumeric text, graphics, or other forms of information visibly displayed within a single document on an output device of a computer system. For more information on granted patent 7,665,017, view this temporary link.


Method and Apparatus for Controlling a Display of a Data Processing System: A typical Graphical User Interface (GUI) includes a number of GUI components (e.g., icons, labels, push buttons, radio buttons, checkboxes, combination boxes or combo boxes, pop-up menus, pop-down menus, menu bars, tool bars, text entries, text areas, canvas panels, sliders, and others) contained within a window. A user may want to reduce the size of the window to make room for other windows, or enlarge the window to have a large area for displaying detailed information in the window. When the window containing these GUI components is resized, the layout of the GUI components within the window is typically changed in order to accommodate the new size of the window. Thus, when a window containing a number of GUI components is resized, the layout of GUI components within the window is typically changed to accommodate the size of the window. For more information, see these temporary links: 7,665,038 and 7,665,039.  


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.



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