Yesterday we mourned with the rest of the world as we learned of Steve Jobs passing on Wednesday evening. Today we move forward with a heavy heart - but remain focused on what we do best: Report on the insanely great inventions inspired by Steve Jobs and his team. During Apple's special event held earlier this week in Cupertino, Tim Cook spent a lot of time talking about how Apple still loved music and the iPod that started the mobile revolution. In a patent published by the USPTO on Thursday, we learned that Apple is working on a fresh new music sharing app that is uniquely designed for those who love the mobile clubbing scene. The app is described as tying in with the iOS notification system as well as with Twitter and Facebook social networking sites. And finally, our report covers the newly released iOS 5 split keyboard patent and more.
Silent Discos & Mobile Clubbing Lack a Coordinated Experience
In Apple's patent background they describe the silent disco and the mobile clubbing scenes. A silent disco involves party-goers dancing to music received wirelessly directly into headphones. Most commonly, the music is provided by one or sometimes two DJs who broadcast the music via an FM transmitter. Similar to the silent disco, the concept of mobile clubbing involves flash mob gatherings of people (sometimes in the hundreds) at public spaces at least portions of which are temporarily converted to clubbing areas in which people dance while listening to their personal music using MP3 players.
Although both mobile clubbing and silent discos involve a gathering of people intent on having a good time, silent discos are typically held at a publicly advertised dance venue. Mobile clubbing on the other hand is more spontaneous in nature and likely to involve a location, such as a train station, not normally considered a dance venue. This spontaneity could provide an added surprise for the unwitting hosts of the space designated as the mobile club as well as members of the general public that happen to be in the general vicinity of the designated location.
However, neither silent discos nor mobile clubs provide for a musical experience that is both specific to the individual and yet common to the group. For example, with the silent disco, there is no individuality since the music is the same for all members of the group since it is the DJs that select the music to play and the participants have no choice but to listen. On the other hand, with mobile clubbing, it is completely individualistic in nature since each participant selects their own music to the exclusion of all others and as such the only thing shared is the location in which the mobile clubbers find themselves.
Therefore, what is desired is a system and method of coordinating a music experience amongst a disparate group of individuals.
One of the advantages of Apple's patent pending invention is that it's aimed at providing a group of people with a shared music experience. More particularly, the shared music experience could be specific to an individual group member but still share a common group music characteristic.
One method could be performed at a first personal communication device, which Apple specifically describes as being either an iPhone or iPad, by receiving information from an external circuit. In the described embodiment, the information could include an indication of a shared music characteristic. At least some of the information (including the shared music characteristic) could be re-broadcasted concurrently with the receiving.
Using the Notification System
In one example, Apple describes a method of using this new system which starts with a notification system. A notification of a shared musical experience is received by your friends or guests with iPhones which tells them where the mobile club will be and when it'll begin. The system appears to gather commonly held music found on the parties' iPhones in order to select which tunes to play in a coordinated manner. But it doesn't necessarily share music but rather common traits like beats per minute. In another area of the patent, Apple specifically states that "It should be noted that the shared music characteristic does not distinguish music content per se, but describes a characteristic of the music content. In this way, no music content is distributed amongst the personal communication devices."
All of this will be carried out on a newly proposed app that will come with future iOS devices and made available on iTunes and/or the AppsStore for older devices, according to the patent. The app is designed to share a computer code for rebroadcasting information about which songs to play for your group during the mobile clubbing event.
Methods of Communication
The information, as noted above, could include a snippet or chunk of data that could be broadcasted by one or more devices to other devices that are within the transmission range of the broadcasting device(s).
In one embodiment, the snippet or chunk of data could take the form of a token that could be used to seed a group of personal communication devices with the shared music characteristic. The token could be stored in a personal communication device and concurrently broadcasted to any other personal communication device using, for example, short message service (SMS) messaging, email, Twitter, Facebook or a WiFi RF transmission. In this way, by broadcasting the information, each personal communication device could be made aware of the shared music characteristic at about the same time.
If broadcasting the information is not feasible (or deemed inappropriate) then an ad hoc peer to peer (P2P) network could be formed by using an iPhone as an acting- node. In this way, a first iPhone could be used to seed the P2P network by, for example, wirelessly transmitting a signal that could include the token. For example, the first personal communication device could use a wireless protocol and wirelessly transmit a signal that could include the token, or its equivalent.
Devices within the transmission range of the first personal communication device (Bluetooth is about 10 m, or 30 feet) capable of receiving and processing the signal could retrieve the token (or equivalent information) and in some cases store the token (or relevant portions) locally. In order to propagate the information within the P2P network, each device could, concurrently with the receiving of the signal, re-transmit the signal (including the token) to other personal communication devices within range of the sending device. In this way, each personal communication device properly configured for participation in the shared music experience (and within range of at least another one of the participating personal communication devices) could share the same information including the shared music characteristic.
In some implementations, in order to participate in the shared music experience, a communication application could be required that could provide the personal communication device with at least the appropriate network protocols required to exchange information with other personal communication devices in the P2P network. For example, various products manufactured by Apple Inc. (such as the iPhone and iPhone 3G, iPod Touch, iPad.) could participate in a P2P network using network protocols provided by the communication application.
Protecting Personal Communication Device Identifiers by using Avatars
In the described embodiments, the signal received at the personal communication device could include information other than the shared music characteristic. For example, the personal communication device could retrieve relevant information from the token that could include the shared music characteristic.
However, in some cases, after retrieving, the personal communication device could also inquire if the signal includes information other than the shared music characteristic. Such information could include any personal communication device identifiers, or PCDIDs, indicating the identity of those personal communication devices that have already received the information. In this way, a personal communication device could retrieve not only information related to the shared music characteristic, but other information related to those personal communication devices participating in the shared music experience. One of the features of the PCDID is the ability to facilitate social networking within the group. For example, each member of the group could create a personal identifier, also referred to as an avatar. The avatar could take many forms, such as an identifying insignia, cartoon face, and so on (See reports on Apple's Avatar related patents one and two). In any case, the unique identifier (including any personalized information associated therewith) could be associated with the PCDID of the personal communication device and be passed between various other personal communication devices. In this way, a dynamic social network could be formed independent of or in conjunction with the shared musical experience.
Apple's patent application was originally filed in Q1 2010 by the sole inventor Sylvain Louboutin. We could be sure that it has Steve Jobs' fingerprints all over this one. Steve sure loved music and bringing iTunes to the world. And one of life's better ways of expressing celebration, is through dance.
Another Noteworthy Patent Applications Published on Thursday
For those interested in learning all about the inner workings of the new split keyboard feature coming to iOS 5 later this month – you're in luck. Apple's patent application 20110242138 was just published this week.
Apple's patent application was originally filed in Q1 2010 by the sole inventor Guy "Bud" Tribble MD, PhD, Vice President of Software Technology at Apple Inc. Here's a link to a YouTube video of the split keyboard feature and here's a temporary link to the patent that's only good for about 48 hours, so check it out while you can.
And One More Thing ...
Below is one of 12 photos of Steve Jobs as presented by Time this morning that were taken by photographer Diana Walker (excluding the arrow of course). You have to wonder if that's a Mini Mac Pro prototype or a toy model on his desk? If you have a moment, you should check out the photos.
Notice: Patently Apple presents a detailed summary of patent applications with associated graphics 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 full and accurate details. Revelations found in patent applications shouldn't be interpreted as rumor or fast-tracked according to rumor timetables. Apple's patent applications have provided the Mac community with a clear heads-up on some of Apple's greatest product trends including the iPod, iPhone, iPad, iOS cameras, LED displays, iCloud services for iTunes and more. About Comments: Patently Apple reserves the right to post, dismiss or edit comments.
Here are a Few Great Community Sites covering our Original Report
MacSurfer, ApfelBlog Switzerland, Twitter, Facebook, Apple Investor News, Google Reader, UpgradeOSX, TechWatching, Macnews, iPhone World Canada, CBS MarketWatch, MacDailyNews, and more.