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Apple Introduces us to a Live Chameleon-Like Screen Saver Designed Specifically for iOS Devices & Fashion Accessories

1 - Apple Introduces us to a Live Chameleon-Like Screen Saver for iOS Devices + , patent 2011 
Apple filed their "Apple" trademark in China this week which we noted as carrying an interesting twist. We noticed that Apple had, for the first time, emphasized fashion accessories and precious metals for jewelry, a watch and more in association with their brand name in a very succinct way. That just happens to fall in nicely with a new Apple patent application that was published this morning by USPTO that specifically points to using a next generation iPod nano as a fashion accessory. The unique aspect of this accessory is that it will implement a wild new dynamic screen saver system that could sense the environment it is in and in a chameleon-like fashion automatically change the screen saver accordingly. The patent even indirectly hints at a camera returning to the iPod nano which would support several on-going rumors. 


The Boredom of Today's Static Screen Savers


According to Apple, an electronic device could include a display for providing information to a user. When the display is not in use, the electronic device typically turns off the display circuitry to limit the power consumption of the device. The resulting display window may not have much aesthetic appeal, and may not display any information of use to the user.


In some cases, however, the electronic device could include a screen saver to display when the display is not in use. For example, the electronic device could display a screen saver after a timeout has lapsed without receiving any user interaction with the device.


As another example, the electronic device could display a screen saver in response to a user locking or logging out of the device. The screen saver could include any suitable information or content to be displayed. For example, the screen saver could include a static image.


As another example, the screen saver could include dynamic elements that move on the display in a preordained manner. For example, a screen saver element could include a geometric form that moves across the display and bounces from the sides of the display.


As another example, a screen saver element could include an animated animal traversing a background (e.g., a fish swimming across an underwater image). These screen savers, however, do not vary; the elements always move in the same manner, and the color scheme used for the screen saver evolves in a predictable and preordained sequence.


Overview of Apple's Creative Solution


Apple's patent covers systems, methods and computer-readable media for displaying dynamic tags or screen savers that change based on detected characteristics of the user's environment. In particular, the patent covers dynamic tags that could serve as a fashion accessory by changing based on characteristics of the user's environment.


In some embodiments, an electronic device could include a display on which different types of information could be displayed. When the display or the device is not in use (e.g., after a particular period of inactivity), the electronic device could enable a screen saver or tag mode. In this mode, the electronic device could display a screen saver or tag that may include dynamic elements. In particular, to enhance the appeal of the tag, one or more tag elements, or one or more characteristics of the tag display could vary based on the output of sensors detecting attributes of the device environment.


Advanced Sensors Working with a Built-in Camera


The electronic device could include any suitable type of sensor. For example, the electronic device could include motion sensing components. As another example, the electronic device could include a microphone. As still another example, the electronic device can include a camera. As another example, the color palette or color scheme selected for a particular tag can be selected based on the colors of the environment detected by a camera. To enhance the aesthetic appeal of the electronic device as a fashion accessory, the color palette selected for the tag can be selected to match or complement the colors worn by the user or present in the user's environment.


Sensors for Speed, Direction and the Earth's Orientation


One or more characteristics of the tag could be tied or correlated with the output of the sensors. For example, the direction or speed of motion of an element in the tag could be related to the motion of the electronic device as detected by the motion sensing components.


As another example, the electronic device could monitor the orientation of the device relative to the earth using a motion sensing component to ensure that a tag element moves in a manner oriented relative to the earth, and not relative to the display orientation.


For the Fashion Conscious


To ensure that the displayed tag remains of interest to the user, the electronic device could dynamically change the appearance of the tag based on the evolution of the sensor outputs. For example, if the electronic device determines from the camera that the color schemes of the user's room have changed, the displayed tag could adjust to reflect the new detected colors.


The Exemplary Embodiment is the iPod Nano!


To obtain information about an environment, Apple states that the device could monitor the environment, for example by receiving a signal from any suitable sensor or circuitry coupled to or associated with the device. For example, the device could monitor an environment by receiving a signal from an accelerometer, camera, microphone, magnetic sensor, thermometer, hygrometer (e.g., a humidity sensor), physiological sensor, any other suitable sensor or circuitry, or any combination thereof.


Monitoring the environment could include identifying one or more characteristic properties of the environment. For example, the device could analyze a received signal to identify a characteristic property of the environment, which could include, for example, an ambient property of the environment, such as vibrations, light (e.g., ambient light levels or average color), sound, magnetic fields, temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, any other suitable ambient property or any combination thereof.


It should be noted that while Apple's patent illustrations are all related to a future version of an iPod nano, the fact is that the patent states that their invention will also apply to the iPhone, iPod Touch (PDA), iPad (tablet) and other devices which includes a laptop, gaming device and even medical equipment.


2 - Apple's Environment Sensitive Screen Savers for iPod Nano-like Devices Patent - may 2011  

The Dynamic Rain Drops Example


Apple's patent FIG. 4 is a schematic view of an iPod nano display in which a dynamic screen saver is displayed. In patent FIG. 5 we see a schematic view of the dynamic screen saver of FIG. 4 after detecting a change in nano's orientation.


Display 400 could include dynamic screen saver 402. The screen saver could include background 420 over which several layers of raindrops move. In particular, the screen saver could include layers 410, 412 and 414. Each layer could be distinguished from the other layers using any suitable approach. For example, each layer could include one or both of varying color schemes, varying element types, varying element sizes, and varying element density.


In particular, one layer could include large white raindrops while another layer could include medium sized light blue raindrops and/or have another layer including small turquoise raindrops. The particular colors selected for the layers could be such that the colors range from white to different shades of blue that progressively approach the color of background 420. Although only three layers were identified in the screen saver noted above, it will be understood that the screen saver could include any suitable number of layers, and in particular layers for each size and color scheme of the displayed elements.


The elements of each of the layers 410, 412 and 414 could move in any suitable direction and at any suitable speed. For example, and as described above in connection with FIG. 3, each layer can move in the same or different directions, and at the same or different speeds. In some embodiments, one or more of the direction and speeds could be determined from the output of one or more sensors associated with the electronic device.


In patent FIGS. 4 and 5 we see a particular implementation in which the direction and/or movement of the rain is related to the output of a motions sensing component. In particular, the motion sensing component could determine the angle of the device relative to the gravity vector, and change the direction of the layer movement to match the gravity vector. This approach could provide a realistic animation by which the rain of the screen saver falls towards the ground, and not away from the ground even when the device is tilted.


3A - screenshots of environmental sensitive screen saver system - apple patent may 2011 

More on the Camera Option


According to Apple's patent, a user will be able to select camera option 1014 to define the tag characteristic associated with the images captured by the camera. In the example of FIG. 10, the camera output is associated with the color palette of the entire tag. In some embodiments, the user will be able to further define the specific correlation between captured images and the color palette (e.g., by selecting option 1012). In some embodiments, a particular sensor may have a limited number of tag characteristics with which it could be associated. For example, a camera may be limited to color related tag characteristics. Option 1014 could therefore restrict the available characteristics that the user could select for the camera output.


Temperature/Speed/Location Options


Additionally, a user will be ablet to select temperature option 1014 to define the tag characteristic associated with the ambient temperature of the device. The ambient temperature could be determined from a thermometer associated with the device, or alternatively by retrieving temperature information from a remote source (e.g., a weather station). The electronic device could provide location and time information to the remote source, and receive the current temperature for the location at the provided time from the source. In the example of patent FIG. 10, the temperature is associated with the speed of the movement of layer 2 of the tag. The user could further define the specific correlation between the movement speed and the temperature using any suitable approach (e.g., by selecting option 1014 to define a particular curve or correlation between the sensor output and the movement speed.


Microphone Option


Lastly, a user will be able to select microphone option 1016 to define the tag characteristic associated with the ambient noise or sounds detected by a microphone. In some embodiments, however, a user may wish to ignore the output of a particular sensor. Accordingly, the user could select that no tag characteristic is associated with the sensor. In the example of patent FIG. 10, the microphone output is not associated with any tag characteristic.


Rumors Keep Pointing to the iPod Nano Camera Regaining a Camera


Back on March 7, 2011 an anonymous tipster told us that Apple's iPod nano would not only bring back a built-in camera but also introduce FaceTime. We filed that tip in our X-File. On April 2, 2011, 9to5 Mac posted a photo illustrating an iPod nano with a camera hole in place from Apple.Pro who updated their first reportRumors aren't facts – but when they persist you have to wonder if someone in know is trying to get the word out about a new feature to further frustrate Apple's competitors. Time will tell.


Apple credits Duncan Kerr, Nicholas King and Michael Victor as the inventors of patent application 20110109538, originally filed in Q4 2009.  


Notice: Patently Apple presents only a brief summary of patents with associated graphic(s) for journalistic news purposes as each such patent application is revealed by the U.S. Patent & Trade Office. Readers are cautioned that the full text of any patent application should be read in its entirety for further details. Patents shouldn't be digested as rumors or fast-tracked according to rumor time tables. Apple patents represent true research that could lead to future products and should be understood in that light. About Comments: Patently Apple reserves the right to post, dismiss or edit comments.


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