On May 7, 2015, the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that relates to the transmission of invisible light and, more particularly, to the transmission of data using invisible light via a display assembly of an electronic device like an iPhone, Apple Watch or other future devices. The technology is already working with the Apple Watch as was shown in Apple's video called "Rise" as highlighted in our April 24th report. The Apple Watch in context with an airline boarding pass is shown at the 38 second mark of the video. The technology behind this feature is discussed in this report.
Apple's Patent Background
An electronic device (e.g., a laptop computer, a cellular telephone, etc.) may be provided with one or more display assemblies for providing a first type of visual data that is comprehensible to a user (e.g., textual information that may be legible to a human) as well as a second type of visual data that is machine-readable (e.g., a barcode that may be read by a scanner device and that may be seen but not interpreted by a human). Often times, however, such display assemblies are too small to provide both types of visual data simultaneously.
Apple Invention: Invisible Light Transmission via a Display Assembly
Apple's invention relates to the transmission of invisible light and, more particularly, to the transmission of data using invisible light via a display assembly of an electronic device such as an iPhone.
According to Apple, an electronic device may include a processor and a display assembly that includes pixels arranged in a pixel matrix and a variable control component spanning the pixel matrix. The processor is configured to control the variable control component for simultaneously varying a first characteristic of visible light transmitted by a first pixel of the pixels and a second characteristic of invisible light transmitted by a second pixel of the pixels.
As another example, an electronic device may include a processor and a display assembly that may include pixels arranged in a pixel matrix and a variable control component spanning the pixel matrix. The processor may be configured to control the variable control component for simultaneously enabling a first characteristic of a first invisible light to be transmitted by a first pixel of the pixels and a second characteristic of a second invisible light to be transmitted by a second pixel of the pixels that is different than the first pixel.
As yet another example, a method may include transmitting visible light data via a display assembly of an electronic device and transmitting invisible light data via the display assembly, where the transmitted invisible light data includes information configured to be received and comprehended by a scanner device remote from the electronic device.
As yet another example, a non-transitory computer-readable medium for controlling an electronic device, including computer-readable instructions recorded thereon may be provided for transmitting visible light data via a display assembly of an electronic device and transmitting invisible light data via the display assembly, where the transmitted invisible light data includes information configured to be received and comprehended by a scanner device remote from the electronic device.
As yet another example, a method may include determining with an electronic device a type of scanner for reading data to be provided by the electronic device, choosing with the electronic device a particular protocol of multiple available protocols based on the determined type of scanner, and transmitting invisible light data via a display assembly of the electronic device according to the chosen protocol.
As yet another example, a method may include detecting with an electronic device a need for additional light in an environment of the electronic device for a particular operation, determining with the electronic device a desire for limiting the amount of visible light in the environment of the electronic device, and, in response to the detected need and the determined desire, transmitting both invisible light and visible light into the environment via a single display assembly of the electronic device.
Apple's patent FIG. 2 is a front view of an iPhone showing visible light data that may be transmitted by a display assembly of the phone.
As shown in FIG. 2, at least a portion of biometric input component #110i may be incorporated into or otherwise combined with input component #110a or any other suitable I/O component of the device 100. For example, biometric input component #110i may be a fingerprint reader that may be configured to scan the fingerprint of a user's finger as the user interacts with mechanical input component #110a when using the Home Button.
Moreover, the electronic device may include a flash output component #112d, which may include one or more light sources for providing artificial light for illuminating an environment of device (e.g., such that camera input component #110h may accurately capture an image of the environment).
Additionally or alternatively, as shown, a second region #163 of display surface #180 may be a rectangular region near the middle of display surface (as shown in yellow above) and display assembly output component #112a may be configured to transmit a second type of invisible light data onto and through second region #163 of the display surface.
In some embodiments, invisible light data #162 may be transmitted by display assembly output component #112a through first region #161 to provide the data necessary to redeem the ticket described by textual information visible light data 174 of FIG. 2. Therefore, in some embodiments, invisible light data 162 may be generated and transmitted under the control of the same application as GUI 170 (e.g., an airline ticketing application 103) and/or under the control of a different but concurrently run application as the application controlling GUI 170.
For example, invisible light data may be provided through first region to a scanner in a Morse-code type of communication protocol (e.g., where a number of pulses per set time period may define the communicated data) and/or in a serial peripheral interface ("SPI")-type communication protocol (e.g., where the specific timing of high to low or low to high pulses may define the communicated data).
For example, invisible light data may be provided through second region #163 to a scanner as a linear barcode (e.g., as a U.P.C. barcode) and/or as a matrix or two-dimensional barcode (e.g., as a data matrix barcode or a QR code) that may define the data to be communicated when scanned by the scanner.
Apple's patent FIG. 4 noted below shows a schematic view of a light data management system #401 of an electronic device such as an iPhone that may be provided to manage the various types of light data (e.g., visible light data and invisible light data) that may be transmitted by the device (e.g., via a display assembly output component ).
Apple's patent application is quite technical and with filled with a lot more detail. To review Apple's new patent application titled "Invisible Light Transmission via a Display Assembly" click here.
Apple credits Brian Shadle, Ehsan Farkondeh and Shin Choi as the inventors of patent application 20150123887 which was originally filed in Q4 2013.
Other Patent Applications to Note Today
Two other display related patents surfaced today. The first is titled "Display with Hybrid Progressive-Simultaneous Drive Pattern: Apple's patent "relates generally to electronic devices with displays and, more particularly, to display driver circuitry for displays such as organic-light-emitting diode displays." For more on this, click here.
The second display patent that you could review is titled "Display with Peak Luminance Control Sensitive to Brightness Setting."
Two liquid metal patents surfaced today under application numbers 20150121677 and 20150124401. Although Apple doesn't deem these patents to be continuation patents, the fact is that we covered these patent applications back in 2013 in a report titled "New Patent Sheds Light on the iPhone Created with liquid metal." If anything, the changes are likely to be found in Apple's patent claims and not in the details of the inventions.
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