The US Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 18 newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today. Three of today's granted patents related to great design wins for Apple's iPhone 4 and iPad. In this report we cover two additional notables published today that relate to Apple's Multi-Touch Dictionary and their method of spraying Liquid Metal to maintain acceptable internal and external operating temperatures in integrated circuits. Liquid Metal may actually end up in Apple's next iteration of the iMac – and in this report we'll explain why.
Granted Patent: Multi-Touch Gesture Dictionary
This has been a huge year for Apple, as they've won a series of very important Multi-Touch related patents. In this litigious environment that Apple finds itself in, having powerful patents to support their claims will go a long way in protecting Apple's iPhone and other iOS based devices. Apple has won multi-touch related patents in April, August and again in October 2010.
Apple's latest Multi-Touch related patent covers Apple's multi-touch gesture dictionary. The gesture dictionary includes a plurality of entries, each corresponding to a particular chord. The dictionary entries include a variety of motions associated with the chord and the meanings of gestures formed from the chord and the motions. The gesture dictionary takes the form of a dedicated computer application that may be used to look up the meaning of gestures. The gesture dictionary also takes the form of a computer application is easily accessed from other applications. Apple's gestures apply to iOS devices but are also noted as applying to the desktop and notebooks.
Apple credits John Elias and Wayne Westerman who came to Apple after having their company Fingerworks acquired by Apple. Myra Haggerty is also listed as an inventor of granted patent 7,840,912, originally filed in Q1 2007 – just as the iPhone was being introduced.
Granted Patent: Spray Dispensing Method for Applying Liquid Metal
Apple states that the functionality, performance, and operating speed of integrated circuits (ICs) have increased significantly in recent years. This has resulted in significantly increased power consumption and associated heat generation in these devices. Consequently, it's becoming a considerable challenge to maintain acceptable internal and external operating temperatures in these ICs.
Several liquid metals are promising candidates as improved thermal-interface materials. In principle, these liquid metals could meet the required properties, if the liquid metals are dispensed in a controlled manner.
One embodiment of Apple's invention provides a method for applying a thermal-interface material. During this method, a first surface of a heat-removal device and a second surface of a semiconductor die are prepared. The thermal-interface material includes a material that is a liquid metal over a range of operating temperatures of the semiconductor die.
Apple's patent FIG. 2D is a block diagram illustrating a portion of a process for applying a thermal-interface material via a spray. Having prepared the surfaces and defined regions, the thermal-interface material may be applied to the semiconductor die 110 and/or the heat-removal device 112 shown in (FIG. 2B.
One of the promising liquid metals that Apple's patent refers to belongs to Liquidmetal Technologies. On August 5, 2010, Liquidmetal Technologies, Inc., a Delaware corporation ("Liquidmetal"), entered into a Master Transaction Agreement with Apple and the speculation as to where and how Apple could implement this material has run rampant. We now see that it could be used as a coolant. For other liquid metal applications, see this report and video.
It's interesting to note that one of the inventors of this patent is Mr. Hillman, who is the Senior Manager, Consumer Desktops Product Design at Apple. This could suggest that liquid metal applications could go far beyond those related to iPhone applications. As Apple moves to Intel's Sandy Bridge architecture in 2011, the need to keep the iMac running as cool as possible will be more important than ever.
Apple credits Michael Hillman, Gregory Tice, Oscar Woo, Amir Salehi, Richard Blanco, Ronald Smith, Sean Bailey, Anwyl McDonald, Clayton Anderson, James Crowder, Jeffrey Van Norden and Jonathan Urquhart as the inventors of Granted Patent 7,838,418 originally filed in Q4 2007.
Update January 05, 2010: Another granted patent relating to Liquid Metal was touched on in our January 04, 2011 granted patent report. That report may be hinting of a future miniature fuel cell that could be applied to portables. Then again, Apple could have other ideas up their sleeve for that invention. Time will tell.
Granted Patent: Original iPhone Dock
Apple's has won a patent for their 2007 iPhone dock. Apple credits Jahan Minoo as the sole inventor of Granted Patent 7,840,740 originally filed in Q2 2007.
Other Granted Patents Published Today
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. About Comments: Patently Apple reserves the right to post, dismiss or edit comments.