Sometimes, it’s the behind-the-scenes deals that matter the most. See Aptina’s newly signed patent cross-licensing agreement with Sony as an example: the pact lets the two imaging veterans use each other’s know-how in camera sensors for everything from dedicated cameras through to smartphones and TVs. We know customers of both companies will be glad to see technology spreading beyond corporate borders, but we have a feeling that Nikon will be the happiest. When Nikon is using Aptina sensors in its 1 series mirrorless cameras and Sony sensors in its DSLRs, it’s likely to reap the benefits, regardless of which sensor maker got the better deal.
Source: DPReviewRelated Posts:
We’ve seen a few apps try to manage the ambitious feat of becoming the journal for your entire mobile life, but a new Apple patent suggests the company may be trying to build that kind of functionality right into iOS at the system level, in a way that keeps track of all your phone events, including when and where they happened. The system could help you recall when and where you took a photo, sent an email, received a phone call or even visited a webpage, and show that to you on a map or in a timeline-style list of events.
It’s an interesting patent with a number of possible practical uses. For instance, it could be used to help a device learn more about the specific habits and patterns of its particular user. If it can establish patterns in their behavior, it should theoretically be able to better predict and adapt to their needs. In the more near-time, and less sci-fi immediate future, the system could also make it incredibly easy for a mobile device owner to quickly search their interaction history and find all the contextual details around a specific event, which could be very useful if, for instance, your wedding florist is suggesting you never made a call changing your order six months ago.
Filters can be applied to the stored data to group events by time, location, application and according to a variety of other variables, so that users can drill down and find exactly what they’re looking for, even if they’re not quite sure what that is. The patent system also describes event databases that can be stored in the cloud, freeing up valuable local storage space on the device. The events logged can even be app specific, since Apple’s patent describes a method to invoke it via API, meaning you could theoretically note every time you posted a photo to Instagram, or read an article in Instapaper, too.
This is an a patent application that, while potentially incredibly useful, we likely won’t see make a public experience for at least a while yet. Users seemed uncomfortable with the fact that iPhones used to maintain a location database to help with location triangulation, for instance, so there would likely be apprehension about such an extensive logging tool, even if designed as a user-accessible feature like the patent described in this system. But it would be tremendously beneficial in cases of device theft, and when working with personal health monitoring tools, budget trackers and other types of journalling applications, especially in a time when the notion of the quantified self continues to have a big influence on consumer hardware and software development.Related Posts:
Apple was granted a couple of interesting patents today (spotted by AppleInsider), including one for multitouch surfaces embedded in devices that appear and disappear as needed, as well as a new cooling apparatus design that can redirect air to where it’s needed most within a device. One is just a twist on tech Apple already uses, and the other is something that could address warm lap issues everywhere.
The first patent for “microperforation illumination” covers some designs already found in Apple’s Mac computers, specifically the sleep and power lights that glow through the aluminum casings of its computers seemingly without a dedicated opening for doing so. It describes the tech that allows for light to shine through tiny, nearly invisible holes punched in a metal surface, but expands on the concept considerably by discussing ways in which to control the resulting light, and a means through which microperforation can be combined with touch controls.
One implementation described in the patent features an Apple logo like the one found on the lid of MacBooks, except composed entirely of microperforations so that it vanishes completely when the computer is asleep or shut down. Other uses could be in interface devices like mice and keyboards, to provide key illumination in a manner more aesthetically pleasing than current keyboard backlighting or to indicated contextually relevant touch controls on an otherwise unmarked trackpad, for instance.
The other interesting patent granted to Apple today describes a “method and apparatus for cooling electronic devices,” which differs from your standard internal computer fans. It employs a solid state air moving device called an ionic wind pump that can redirect air to specific parts of a computer’s internals, using magnets to dictate the path of cool air. Internal sensors could detect exactly where cooling is needed most, and the pump system could target that area for maximum effect, reducing power demands and wear on cooling systems and computer components.
This would help with keeping noise levels down, and also Apple describes its potential for both computers and mobile devices, so it could also alleviate some of the heat issues we’ve seen users note in the past with regards to iPads and iPhones. It’s not exactly clear how this system would compare to mechanical fans in terms of physical footprint, but it could also theoretically provide a space savings advantage, crucial to Apple’s ever-slimming case designs.
How likely are these designs to make their way into shipping products? Well Apple already uses microperforation lighting effects on its hardware, so an expansion of that is definitely feasible. I find it hard to imagine the company making its iconic logo invisible when a computer isn’t in active use, but that particular use of the tech would lead to amazingly sparse industrial design, which could become iconic in itself. And alternative ways to cool computers that decrease power requirements and make those efforts more invisible to the end user definitely seems like a pursuit Apple would consider worthwhile, but it could also tackle the issue from other directions, including processor engineering. Still, compared to a lot of Apple patents, these are hardly far-fetched designs in terms of their potential for inclusion in future shipping devices.Related Posts:
In the latest scuffle between Apple and Samsung, a Tokyo court has ruled that the iPhone 4 and 4S do not infringe on two of Sammy’s patents. According to The Asahi Shimbun, a decision on September 14th found Apple had not violated a patent related to app downloads, as Samsung’s method is different. A dispute regarding flight / airplane mode also went in Cupertino‘s favor on October 11th, because the technology in question was regarded by the court as incremental. Only one case against Apple remains undecided in Japan — for a patent on using “homescreen space” — but, as usual, don’t expect that to be the last chapter in the neverending story.
Apple’s looking into some very intriguing things in a couple of new patent applications spotted by AppleInsider today, including sonar-style echolocation for passive proximity detection, and a text-to-speech engine that takes contextual cues about what it’s reading and adds personality to the computer-generated voices it employs. Both of these could result in big changes in the daily use of mobile devices.Speaking In A Voice You Know
The first patent, called “Voice assignment for text-t0-speech output,” can alter text-to-speech (TTS) profiles based on metadata gleaned from content found on a user’s phone or device. So, for instance, if it’s reading back an email from a contact it can identify as male, 25 and living in the U.K., then the voice it produces to read said email will represent those attributes in accent and tone.
The patent describes using actual recorded audio from an off-site database where possible to achieve as natural a reading as possible, and there’s even a provision whereby, with permission from those involved, an iPhone could record speech from contacts on phone calls and use that technique to produce a reasonable facsimile of their voice for TTS use. That way, if you were to have Siri read you an incoming iMessage, you’d hear it in the voice of the sender.
It’s an interesting play, and one that could encourage greater adoption of TTS services. Stilted, inhuman intonation and pronunciation is frequently cited as one of the major failings of computer-generated speech, and hardly helps promote a sense of identification between a user and their device. That kind of bond is important in driving further use of said services, which is in turn useful to Apple because it clearly seems to want to make Siri a go-to resource for iPhone and iPad users in all areas of discovery and potentially even search.Guided By Voices
The other patent application found today details a sound-based echolocation system that lets a device determine its distance from other objects. So a mic could be used to take in ambient sound and determine its relative position, also noting when an object gets closer or farther away. This could be used in place of an ambient light sensor to determine an iPhone’s proximity to a user’s face, for instance, and the iPhone could even send out its own audio signal or ping, when ambient sound isn’t detectable, to determine where it is relative to another surface. As we’ve seen with inventions like the jaja pressure-sensitive stylus, this noise need not be audible to the human ear to be picked up by Apple’s mobile hardware.
There’s a clear benefit for Apple from this tech: it potentially allows the elimination of components like the ambient light sensor it removed from the fifth-generation iPod touch. Apple SVP Phil Schiller reportedly responded to a customer email saying the part was left out of the iPod touch because its chassis is “just too thin.” Further reductions in the iPhone’s thickness could necessitate a similar move, in which case the three microphones currently found in Apple’s smartphone could prove a suitable replacement, should the tech described in this new patent application actually function effectively.Related Posts:
Haggling is so popular that it’s virtually mandatory in some parts of the world, and yet it’s rarely an option in the online space outside of informal auctions. If Amazon ever puts its newly granted patent into practice, however, we could soon be trying for a better price without the mock drama of a face-to-face encounter. The retailer’s proposed haggling system lets buyers and sellers make offers and counteroffers until they reach a happy medium, but with the kind of honesty check we only wish we could have in person. Both buyers and sellers get ratings that would account for their flexibility, typical closing prices and how likely they are to drop a deal before it’s done — a combination that hopefully excludes the cheapskates and those who’d simply keep our wheels spinning. Even if Amazon pulls the trigger on negotiated sales, though, it’s a fairly safe bet that there won’t be any leeway on that Kindle Fire HD.
Anyone who has watched Star Trek has imagined what it would be like to hang out in the Holodeck, and a new patent suggests that Microsoft may one day try to bring that experience to your living room. Described as an “immersive display experience,” the concept is to expand the game past the edges of your television — so you’ll still have a primary display, but the system will project images all around you to create a more realistic experience.
The jury in Apple v. Samsung dealt a big blow against Samsung by finding that it did infringe on Apple’s patents in question, and it didn’t have any better news when it came to its own claims that Apple infringed on some of its patents as well. The jury found that Apple did not infringe on those in all cases, although it did rule that the patents were valid. That also, of course, means no damages awarded to Samsung.
Filed under: Cellphones
We have yet another twist in the worldwide patent battle between electronics giants Apple and Samsung, as the Wall Street Journal and Reuters report a Seoul court has ruled in favor of the latter in a patent case on its home turf. While it decided that Apple had infringed on two Samsung patents, it also found that Samsung had returned the favor on Apple’s “bounceback” design patent, but not on another regarding icon design, resulting in damages also in the “tens of thousands” against Samsung, according to WSJ’s Evan Ramstad. He also reports that other than the light financial slap on the wrist, the ruling means that the infringing products can no longer be sold in South Korea, however that doesn’t mean much because most of them aren’t on shelves any more anyway. Asia Economic reports the two patents Apple was found to have infringed are of the much-disputed standards-essential type relating to the transmission of data.
Filed under: Software
LG Electronics has found itself at the center of quite a few patent lawsuits in recent years (both as a plaintiff and defendant), and it’s now kicked yet another one off. As Bloomberg reports, LG has today filed suit against Toshiba Samsung Storage Technology, alleging that the Toshiba / Samsung joint venture violated a number of patents related to DVD+RW and DVD-RAM technology. In the complaint, LG further alleges that TSST is knowingly infringing on the patents as they were previously licensed to Toshiba itself (and TSST as an affiliate company) as part of a deal that expired in 2010. LG is asking for a jury trial to sort things out, and demanding that TSSC pay “no less than a reasonable royalty” along with some unspecified damages. You can find the complaint in full at the link below.
Filed under: Storage