The US Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 13 newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today in addition to 3 industrial design patents covering Apple's MacBook Pro and MacBook Air. The notable granted patents presented in our report today includes one relating to Apple's advanced iPod Click Wheel, another relating to the iPhone's alert silencing system and perhaps the most important, a never released battery charging system covering a wide variety of devices. The proposed system would allow batteries to be charged by plugging them directly into a future specialized iMac and/or keyboard slot.
Granted Patent: Highly Advanced Battery Charging System
Apple has been granted a patent for a highly advanced battery charging system that has yet to come to market. The battery charging system will allow host machines, be it an iMac or MacBook, to both power consuming devices as well as power charging devices. Another aspect of the patent relates to the concept of a "universal battery" where a few "types" of batteries are adapted to be coupled with a large variety of electronic devices. For instance, there'll be a battery type for large mobile devices such as the MacBook, a medium size battery for the iPhone and iPod and yet a smaller battery for such things as wireless mice, watches, RFID devices, and small sport-type headphones. Apple's rechargeable battery system will also introduce a plurality of sensors to measure temperature and pressure of the battery core or to measure the current and voltage of the battery core in response to power flowing into or out of the battery core. Apple's new battery system will also uniquely alert end users when battery servicing or replacement is required. The system will direct users directly to either Apple's own iTunes Store or other participating retailer for convenience. For more about this patent, see Patently Apple's 2009 report.
Apple credits Harold Aaron Ludtke (San Jose, CA) as the sole inventor of granted patents 7,671,561 and 7,671,559, originally filed in Q3 2007.
Granted Patent: Improved iPod Click Wheel
Apple's Abstract: Scrolling input arrangements are presented including: a flexible membrane; a number of capacitive sensors mechanically integrated with the flexible membrane, the capacitive sensors radially disposed with respect to a first axis that is perpendicular with respect to the flexible membrane; an integrated circuit mechanically coupled with the flexible membrane and electronically coupled with the capacitive sensors, the integrated circuit configured to process a number of electronic signals from the capacitive sensors to provide a scrolling function; and a connection region on the flexible membrane for electronically coupling the scrolling input arrangement with an electronic device. In some embodiments, the capacitive sensors are configured with a plate element having a first surface area and a trace element having a second surface area such that the first surface area and second surface area comprise a sensor surface area, wherein the sensor surface areas for the capacitive sensors is substantially equal in size.
Apple credits Larry Forsblad, Steve Hotelling, Brian Lynch, Benjamin Lyon, Jan Moolsintong, Doug Weber and Steve Zadesky as the inventors of Granted Patent 7,671,837 for "Scrolling input arrangements using capacitive sensors on a flexible membrane", originally filed in Q1 2006. Note that this patent actually has related or referenced documentation dating back to 1913 until the present. That's right, 1913.
Granted Patent: iPhone with Alert Silencing
In some embodiments, audible alerts issued by a portable electronic device can be silenced in response to user smacks on the body of the device. These audible alerts are initiated by applications running on the device, such as email, phone, alarm, and/or timer applications. In some embodiments, the device includes one or more accelerometers that detect and signal the user smacks. In some embodiments, the alert response mode of the device (such as whether it rings or vibrates to signal an alert) can be changed in response to predefined patterns of user smacks.
Apple credits Scott Herz and Dan Keen as the inventors of granted patent 7,671,756, originally filed in Q2 2007.
Other Noteworthy Granted Patents Published Today
Method and system for controlling video selection and playback in a portable media player: A method and system in accordance with the present invention provides a system that allows a portable media player to control settings of the portable media player when receiving video from an accessory, to control playback of the portable media player, and to provide for navigation between video tracks in a hierarchical fashion. In so doing, a portable media player can then utilize this information to provide for the maximum functionality of the accessory when connected to the portable media player. Granted Patent: 7,673,083.
Portable media device with video acceleration capabilities: Improved techniques for performing accelerated video presentation on a media device are disclosed. The improved techniques enable smooth, uniform accelerated video presentation by displaying key frames from a video file in a periodic fashion. The rate and direction of accelerated video presentation can be controlled. The improved techniques are well suited for use with portable media devices. Granted Patent: 7,673,238.
Tunable antennas for handheld devices: A compact tunable antenna for a handheld electronic device and methods for calibrating and using compact tunable antennas are provided. The antenna can have multiple ports. Each port can have an associated feed and ground. The antenna design can be implemented with a small footprint while covering a large bandwidth. The antenna can have a radiating element formed from a conductive structure such as a patch or helix. The antenna can be shaped to accommodate buttons and other components in the handheld device. The antenna may be connected to a printed circuit board in the handheld device using springs, pogo pins, and other suitable connecting structures. Radio-frequency switches and passive components such as duplexers and diplexers may be used to couple radio-frequency transceiver circuitry to the different feeds of the antenna. Antenna efficiency can be enhanced by avoiding the use of capacitive loading for antenna tuning. Granted Patent: 7,671,804.
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 that doesn't present you with a direct link, simply feed the individual patent number(s) into this search engine.