Apple Wins their Third "Light Display" Patent in Three Months
The US Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 15 newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today. The notables within this group include battery assembly and motion sensing management for the iPhone along with patents for Apple's OS X Dashboard, AppleScript and Universal Dock. Yet the one granted patent that was a standout today by far was one covering Apple's work on a new "Light Display." The patent reveals a new contemplated light-reflecting structure that would be built right into the bezel of a device like the iPad to better detect touch from a finger or new light-pen.
Light Display Patent
Apple has been granted their third patent relating to an advanced "light display." Their first granted patent on this technology was published in November followed by their second granted patent published in December. Apple is working on iPhone patents for the enterprise and should they gain a substantial footprint in that segment, Apple's new light display with its various light pen options could prove to be a strategic marketing weapon for the future.
While Apple's granted patent is a deeply technical display patent, the inventors admit that "the design of an optimized touch screen is an ultimately unsolvable task." With that said, the inventors present a wide array of methodologies to achieve a superior display that may abandon current LED based displays on certain iOS devices.
Apple's granted patent also discusses new potential techniques for the determination between "hovering" and "touching" with a model they describe as a "shadow" region (e.g., light impeded region of the display).
New Light Reflecting Structure
Another point of interest in this patent is that we see that Apple is at least considering a light directing structure that could be built into the bezel of a device like an iPad for instance.
The patents states that "To further distinguish between the finger or other devices being close to the display (or touching) or alternatively being spaced sufficiently apart from the display, a light directing structure may be used.
The light directing structure is preferably included around a portion of the periphery of the display and may reflect ambient light across the frontal region of the display. The reflected light then reflects off the finger or other device thus increasing the light striking the light sensitive element when the finger or other device is spaced sufficiently apart from the display. The light reflecting off the finger or other device decreases when the finger or other device is near the display because of the angular reflections of light. The differences in the reflected light striking the display may be used, at least in part, to detect the touching of the display or otherwise inhibiting light to the display.
Apple's granted patent presents information about various types of pens being considered for a "light display." Apple's patent FIG. 15 noted below illustrates a handheld device together with an optical wand. Patent FIG. 26 illustrates a display with multiple sensor densities and optical elements; FIG. 27 illustrates a display with memory maintaining material; FIGS. 28 to 31 illustrate varying light-display specific pens that could work with such a display.
Apple's main patent claim: a display device having a surface for viewing an image comprising: a stack of layers configured to display the image; and a plurality of light sensitive elements included in the stack, the plurality of light sensitive elements configured to detect an object on or near the surface; wherein a processor is configured to distinguish between a touch of the object on the display device and a hover of the object relative to the display device based on temporally monitoring an image of a shadow region detected by the plurality of light sensitive elements corresponding to the object.
Apple credits Adiel Abileah and Willem den Boer as the inventors of granted patent 7,872,641, which was originally filed in Q4 2007.
Motion Sensor Processing: Other granted patents published today relating to iOS devices, include one that relates to the iPhone. The patent covers systems and methods for processing motion sensor data such as an accelerometer or gyroscope and more particularly, to systems and methods for processing motion sensor data using various power management modes. See Motion Patent.
Battery Assembly: Another iOS device patent was granted to Apple that relates to the removable battery assembly for devices like the iPhone.
Apple's Main Patent Claim: A battery assembly for use with an electronic device, comprising: a battery cell substantially in the form of a box comprising a top surface, a bottom surface, elongated side walls and shortened side walls; a battery connector operative to transfer power from the battery cell to the electronic device and separate from the battery cell, the battery connector placed adjacent a shortened side wall of the battery cell; and a flex circuit coupled to the top surface of the battery cell and to the battery connector operative to couple the battery cell to the battery connector. See Battery Assembly Patent.
Other Granted Patents Published Today
Shake: Apple has been granted a patent for their defunct high-end, node-based visual effects and composing program/application known as Shake. The program was dropped in mid 2009. References to Shake on Apple's website direct you to their Final Cut application suit which includes its likely replacement, "Motion." See Shake Patent,
Universal Dock with Apple Remote: Apple has been granted a patent for their universal dock that worked with their Apple Remote. See Smart Dock Patent.
AppleScript Patent: Apple has been granted an AppleScript related patent which covers the field of graphical user interfaces for computer systems. Specifically, the invention is directed towards methods for providing visual cues and color labeling in a graphical user interface (GUI). See AppleScript Patent.
Dashboard Patent: Apple has won their third OS X Dashboard related patent in the last six months. The first was granted in July and the second in September 2010. See Dashboard Patent.
Others: API for Synchronization 7,872,652; Virtualization of Graphics resources 7,872,656; Synchronization of computer system clock using a local gateway 7,873,024; Video coding system providing separate coding chains for dynamically selected small-size or full-size playback 7,873,225; Digital Phase Relationship Lock Loop 7,873,762; Method and Apparatus for Elevating and Improving Disk Access Time in a Raid System 7,873,784; A Database related patent 7,873,912. To review any of these other patents, enter the patent number listed above into this search engine.
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.
Interesting point ilan. The light display patents were licensed or purchased by Apple in 2007 when the iPhone was just rolling out. Apple may have been able to snatch these up for future use. The "inventors" mention in the patent that the "handheld portion of the display may use "any recognition technique" - including Palm OS."
Apple sometimes will say that a particular feature could run on other operating systems like Windows, but don't. It's just to illustrate the type of system the technology could apply to.
Obviously Apple has a working relationship with these inventors as Apple has recently picked up another patent of theirs as noted below about finger print scanning for future iOS devices:
Posted by: Jack Purcher | January 18, 2011 at 01:25 PM
Why is the handheld device in the graphic a dead ringer for the ancient Palm m125?
Posted by: ilan | January 18, 2011 at 12:28 PM