Whoa! Apple Reveals Amazing Gaming Accessories in the Works
During Steve Jobs keynote in January, prior to introducing the iPad, he had a new message that he wanted to get out to the world. The message was that Apple is a mobile devices company. "How does Apple stack up against all the other companies that sell mobile devices," asked Jobs. Well, "it turns out that Apple is the largest mobile devices company in the world now. It's amazing. Apple is larger than Sony's mobile devices business…it's bigger than Samsung's mobile devices business … and even bigger than Nokia's mobile devices business." And to make his point even larger – we learn today that Apple is going into the mobile gaming business – big time! Apple's patent provides us with a first view of their exciting new gaming accessories that are now in development. Some units are dedicated while others include a unique receptacle system so that your iPod could be inserted to play games with a game pad that even has controls on the reverse side to control your characters jumping and maneuvering. Some units will have a Wii like motion sensing capability while others will wirelessly connect to your home theater or HDTV. One unit even has a dual display configuration. Watch out Sony – Apple is aiming for mobile games and they're out to win!
Portable Gaming Accessory
Apple's patent FIG. 1 illustrates a game accessory configured to receive a portable electronic device according to an embodiment of the present invention. This figure, as with the other included figures, is shown for illustrative purposes only and does not limit either the possible embodiments of the present invention or the claims.
Again, games, such as video or audio games, can be played on portable electronic devices such as portable media players. Some of these portable electronic devices include touchscreens that cover a majority or significant portion of one side of the player. These touchscreens display the video game action for the user. The user also inputs commands and instructions to the game by touching, tapping, or otherwise manipulating portions of the touchscreen. Accordingly, while a touchscreen is displaying an avatar's movements and actions, the user may input instructions and commands by touching the touchscreen. This disrupts the graphics, since graphics information for the command input is typically displayed. Also, the user's fingers block some of the view.
Accordingly, embodiments of the present invention provide an accessory that accepts the portable electronic device and has control inputs that may be manipulated by a user. In this way, space is not needed on the touchscreen for command input graphics, and the user's view of the screen remains unobstructed. This accessory is also advantageous for use with devices having clickwheels or other input devices, as these input devices are not optimized for game playing.
In this example, portable electronic device 110 is inserted into game accessory 120. The game accessory includes recessed portion 122 configured to receive portable the electronic device. The portable electronic device may snap into the recess. In other embodiments of the present invention, the portable electronic device may slide into the recess of accessory 120. In these examples, the accessory and the portable electronic device form a physical unit.
In other embodiments of the present invention, the accessory need not include a recess. Instead, other means of attaching portable electronic device 110 to accessory 120 may be used. The accessory could include one or more control buttons 124 and directional pad or D-pad 126. In other embodiments of the present invention, other features, such as a joystick (not shown), may be incorporated.
In a specific embodiment of the present invention, the portable electronic device is a portable media player. In other embodiments of the present invention, other portable electronic devices, such as cell phones and palmtop computers, may be used.
This allows the game accessory to be used while commuting, flying, or just relaxing on the couch. In this specific example, D-pad 126 is shown on one side of accessory 120, while control buttons 124 are shown on a second side of accessory 120. This enables a user to manipulate D-pad 126 with her left thumb and control buttons 124 with her right thumb. The user can hold the device in this way and view the action using the screen on the portable electronic device, such as the touchscreen 112. In other embodiments of the present invention, the accessory is a hand-held device that could be held in one hand while controls are manipulated with a second hand. In still other embodiments of the present invention, the accessory could be held and the controls manipulated by one hand.
In various embodiments of the present invention, the accessory may include one, two, or more than two control buttons 124. These buttons may be used during the playing of a game for various purposes. Typically, these buttons are used to provide inputs to the game. For example, a control button may be used to select items from a menu. A control button may be used to make an avatar jump, shoot, pick up objects, or other activities, depending on the context of the game being played.
In various embodiments of the present invention, the accessory may include one, two, or more than two directional controls. These directional controls may be a D-pad, such as D-pad 126 in this example. The directional controls may also be a joystick or other such control. These directional controls may be used during the playing of a game for various purposes. These directional controls may provide directional data or information to the game program. Typically, these directional controls are used to control the movement of a portion of an image displayed on the screen of the portable electronic device during the playing of a game. For example, a directional control may be used to navigate through a menu. They may also be used to control the direction of an avatar's movement, or other action, depending on the context of the game being played. Also, instead of moving an avatar, the directional control may control the movement of a background relative to the avatar.
The game accessory may include memory for retaining game status information such as scores and other information. The memory may also retain user identification information. This allows the game accessory to track game information for a number of users. This is particularly useful where multiple siblings share the one game accessory. It is also useful for public or semi-public areas such as doctors' offices, restaurants, and other locations that a user may visit on an intermittent basis. By storing user identification and game status information, users may periodically access the game accessory and resume game playing, even after protracted periods of absence. The memory may be volatile or non-volatile memory.
The configuration shown in this example is particularly good for games where the action happens on a landscape. In other situations, it is desirable to hold the game in a portrait fashion. This is particularly useful for games where, for example, objects are falling from the sky and need to be made to fit together in an organized fashion.
Portrait Styled Accessory for Games & More
Apple's patent figure 2 below is particularly good for games where the action happens in a portrait manner. Accordingly, another embodiment of the present invention provides an accessory for receiving a portable electronic device, where the accessory includes a thumb or other type of keypad.
It should be acknowledged that the proposed gaming accessory could also be used to review, edit, and create documents, to send and receive e-mails, and to browse the Internet, among a myriad of other applications. As part of these activities, a user often needs to enter text and other alphanumeric information into the portable electronic device. Text entry can also be part of a game.
Alternate Designs Include Vibration, Remote Control & Camera Functions
Apple's patent FIG. 3 illustrates a game accessory configured to receive a portable electronic device, the accessory including a thumb or keypad, according to an embodiment of the present invention. This game accessory is of particular use in playing text-based games. In this example, accessory 320 includes recess 322 configured to accept a portable electronic device, in this example, portable electronic device 310. As before, the portable electronic device includes touchscreen 312. The portable electronic device in this and the other included examples may be a portable media player.
The game accessory further includes thumb or keypad 324. Thumb or keypad may be a thumb pad, where keys on a left side are intended to be manipulated by a user's left thumb and where keys on a right side are intended to be manipulated by a user's right thumb. In other embodiments of the present invention, thumb or keypad 324 may include a full keyboard where the keys are separated from one another.
In still other embodiments of the present invention, a 12-key keypad may be used, where keys for the numbers zero through nine, pound, and star are included. In one example, text may be entered using these keys by pressing single key one or more times. In other embodiments of the present invention, keypad 324 may be arranged such that accessory 320 provides a remote control for one or more an external electronic devices.
In other embodiments of the present invention, other features may be included in the accessory according to embodiments of the present invention. For example, it may be desirable to provide camera features for still or video image capture.
It may also be desirable to include a speaker or microphone. Other circuitry, for example circuitry to detect movement or to provide a vibration to a user holding the accessory, may be included.
Apple's patent FIG. 4 noted above illustrates a game accessory having a number of features according to an embodiment of the present invention.
Game accessory 420 may further include a microphone 423 for receiving voice or other audio information. Movement sensors 425 may be included to detect movement of the accessory. Rumble circuitry and mechanisms 427 may also be included to provide vibration of the accessory. Camera lens 429 may also be included. Still and video image sensors and circuitry may be included internally to the device. Speaker 426 may also be included.
Various embodiments of the present invention may make use of an accelerometer. This enables movement, such as rotational movement so that the portable electronic device and the gaming accessory could be in combination be part of the game. In one specific embodiment of the present invention, the game accessory is a steering wheel.
In some embodiments of the present invention, portable electronic device 410 may be or include a phone.
A Dual Display Gaming Accessory Design
In other embodiments of the present invention, it may be desirable to include a second screen on the accessory. In such a situation, where the screen of the portable electronic device is a touchscreen, the touchscreen may be used to receive commands and instructions from a user and to provide first graphics, while the second screen provides second graphics.
Also, since game play, or text entry, for that matter, may become dynamic, it may be desirable to securely attach the portable electronic device to the accessory. An example is shown in the following figures.
Apple's patent FIGS. 6A-6B illustrate an accessory configured to receive a portable electronic device. In FIG. 6A, the portable electronic device 610 may be a portable media player that includes connector receptacle 614. The connector receptacle further includes connector receptacle tongue 616 that may have one or more contacts located on it.
The physical connection between the connector receptacle and connector insert 640 provides some amount of physical security between accessory 620 and portable electronic device. This security can be enhanced in a number of ways. For example, a transparent cover, such as a cover made of plastic, may fit over portable the electronic device holding it in place. In other embodiments of the present invention, clips or other mechanisms, particularly employed at the far end of the accessory away from the connector insert, can be used to secure portable electronic device 610 in accessory 620. These may include elastomeric clasps or other engaging members. In other embodiments of the present invention, other mechanisms, such as Velcro or suction cups, may be used.
In some embodiments of the present invention, it is desirable that the accessory be able to accept a number of different types of electronic devices or portable media players having different shapes and sizes. In these circumstances, adapters or removable inserts may be used to provide a proper and secure fit between portable electronic device 610 and accessory 620.
While a connector system including a connector receptacle and connector insert is shown in these figures, in other embodiments of the present invention it is desirable to have a game accessory that can communicate with a wireless portable electronic device. For example, a portable electronic device may not include a connector receptacle. An example is shown in the figure described below.
Wireless Head-to-Head Gaming
Apple's patent FIG. 7 illustrates a game accessory that could wirelessly communicate with a portable electronic device. This wireless communication eliminates the need for a connector insert. This wireless communication can be achieved using Bluetooth, WiFi, or other standard or proprietary wireless technologies.
It is often desirable to play these games against other people. Accordingly, it is desirable that a first accessory used by a first user can communicate with a second accessory used by a second user. This allows head-to-head play. In various embodiments of the present invention, this communication can either be direct or indirect. For example, it may be direct, that is, point-to-point. It may instead be indirect, for example, over a router, Internet, or other data connection. In various embodiment of the present invention, this communication may be all or partially wireless. An example is shown in the following figure.
Apple's patent FIG. 8 illustrates wireless communication between a first and second game accessory according to an embodiment of the present invention. This figure includes game accessory 820 adapted to receive portable electronic device 810. The portable electronic device may be a portable media player.
The gaming accessory includes wireless circuitry for forming wireless link 840 with a second game accessory and portable electronic device 830. The wireless link may be a point-to-point wireless link as shown. Alternately, the wireless link may include one or more nodes, wireless hubs, routers, modems, Internet connections, or other wired or wireless circuitry. As before, the wireless link may use Bluetooth, WiFi, or other standard or proprietary wireless technologies.
In this example, the first user sees information displayed on the portable electronic device, while a second user sees what is displayed on the second accessory and portable electronic device 830. In other embodiments of the present invention, it is desirable to include other display information on one or more other monitors. An example is shown in the following figure.
In Apple's patent FIG. 9 illustrates a game accessory adapted to receive a portable electronic device and communicate with other accessories and electronic devices. In this example, the portable electronic device 910 can be a portable media player. Accessory 920 is in communication with a second accessory and portable electronic device 930 using wireless link 940. The accessory is in further communication with monitor 950 over wireless link 942. Monitor 950 is also in communication with the second accessory and the portable electronic device over wireless link 944. As before, the wireless link may use Bluetooth, WiFi, or other standard or proprietary wireless technologies.
This configuration allows first information to be displayed on a first screen and second information to be displayed on a second screen. For example, the first information may include information regarding controls for an automobile. The second information may show positions of two or more cars on a racetrack.
In various embodiments of the present invention, it is also desirable to communicate with other electronic devices, such as audio systems and monitors. For example, it may be desirable to have music playback over a home audio system. It may also be desirable to view graphics information using a larger monitor – home theater or HDTV.
Apple's patent FIG. 10 illustrates a game accessory configured to receive a portable electronic device. Accessory 1020 is in communication with an audio system over wireless link 1040 and display monitor 1050 over wireless link 1042. In this configuration, a user may play a game where first graphics information is provided on touchscreen 1012 on portable electronic device 1010 and second graphics information is provided on monitor 1050. Sound can be provided by the accessory to audio system speakers 1030 over wireless link 1040. As before, the wireless links may use Bluetooth, WiFi, or other standard or proprietary wireless technologies.
Apple credits Brett Allen and Sanjay Gadkari as the inventors of patent application 20100081505, originally filed in Q3 2008.
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 grant is revealed by the U.S. Patent & Trade Office. Readers are cautioned that the full text of any patent application and/or grant should be read in its entirety for further details. For additional information on any patent reviewed here today, simply feed the individual patent number(s) noted in this report into this search engine.
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Posted by: - | April 02, 2010 at 04:21 PM
Is the XBox a rip off of the PS3? Is the Dell One a rip off of Apple's iMac. It's easy to say rip off without understanding the fundamental differences between the two products and patents.
Posted by: Jimmy | April 02, 2010 at 11:40 AM
Isn't this a complete rip-off of icontrolpad.com?
Posted by: Christopher | April 02, 2010 at 11:33 AM