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Apple was Granted 36 Patents Today Covering a Futuristic Smart Home Flexible Room Control System and more

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The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 36 granted patents for Apple Inc. today. In this particular report we focus on Apple granted patent for a next-gen smart home feature. The invention is focused on a flexible room control unit that will reside in a home ceiling. The device uses a TrueDepth type of camera that could scan a human hand approaching a segment of a wall in the home to control lighting and other features in the room (air conditioning, music etc). Once the hand is close enough to the wall, the ceiling projector beams a visual of lighting of room controls for the user to manipulate. Once done, the room controls that were projected on the wall disappear. We wrap up this week's granted patent report with our traditional listing of the remaining granted patents that were issued to Apple today.


Granted Patent: Flexible Room Controls


Apple's newly granted patent covers their invention relating to human-machine interfaces, and particularly to user controls in a room or building.


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Apple's invention is out to advance the old home system with a new control apparatus, including an optical subsystem, a depth map scanner and a projection system.


When a user walks into their family room, for example, the wall would be void of switches. When setting up the 'room control unit' as illustrated below, the projector will be set to project room controls to a portion of a set wall. When the user touches the vicinity of the wall it acts as a virtual control pad and sets off the projector. The projector will then beam virtual controls onto the wall to control devices in the room from lights, to air conditioning and entertainment systems. Of course it will be different for every room the user has this system set up in.



This is Apple's second granted patent for this invention due to Apple adding more patent claims. Now that Apple has introduced Face ID for iPhone X using PrimeSense's TrueDepth camera that projects invisible light in the form of dots on a face as we pointed out in a September 16, 2017 report titled " Apple's Face ID has been in the work for many Years and its Debut fulfills many In-Depth Camera Patents," you can understand how this technique is to be used with this future in-home Flexible Room Control invention.


In patent claim number one below that is new, Apple describes the use of a depth map using infrared light not presented in the original granted patent. Apple describes the following:


"Control apparatus, comprising: a first light source, which is configured to emit a first beam of infrared light; a second light source, which is configured to emit a second beam of visible light; an optical scanner, comprising at least one scanning mirror, which is configured to scan both the first and second beams over a scene that includes a hand of a user in proximity to a wall of a room; a detector, which is configured to receive the infrared light that is reflected from the scene; and a processor, which is configured to control the second light source so as to project an image of a control device onto the wall, and to generate, responsively to the infrared light received by the detector, a depth map of the scene, to process the depth map so as to detect a proximity of the hand to the wall in a location of the projected image, and to control electrical equipment in the room responsively to the proximity."


Infrared light is mentioned 13 times in today's second granted patent and zero times in their first granted patent which was published in August 2016. Apple's second granted patent 9,772,720 was originally filed in Q2 2016 and published today by the US Patent and Trademark Office.


Other Granted Patents of Interest


A few other granted patents of interest that were published today. Last week we posted a report titled "Apple Wins 57 Patents Today Covering Dual Optical Image Stabilization for iPhone X which fulfills another Patent & more." Today Apple was granted a second patent regarding dual OIS cameras. Apple was also granted one of their original iPhone patents dating back to June 2008 titled "Using gestures to slide between user interfaces."


The Remaining Patents granted to Apple Today


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Note: In order to see a clearer image of the list above, simply click on the image above to enlarge it. Some browsers may require that you click on the image and then a second click on the image to enlarge it fully.


14 Patent Notice BarPatently Apple presents only a brief summary of granted patents with associated graphics for journalistic news purposes as each Granted Patent is revealed by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Readers are cautioned that the full text of any Granted Patent should be read in its entirety for full details. About Making Comments on our Site: Patently Apple reserves the right to post, dismiss or edit any comments. Those using abusive language or behavior will result in being blacklisted on Disqus.




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