'patent' Articles

The Next Generation Apple Watch Could Identify Users by Their Heart Rate

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office published an invention today that suggests the next Apple Watch could identify its owner simply by checking their heart rate. Apple's patent application is titled "User identification system based on plethysmography" and describes how a pulse oximeter is used to determine the biometric signature of a user's cardio rhythms. This data could then be used to identify the wearer and unlock the watch in a manner similar to Touch ID on the iPhone. The system works similarly to existing monitors, by projecting light on the user's skin and measuring how much of it is absorbed and reflected back to the device. The measurement can then be used to determine the amount of blood present in the vasculature. According to the patent, the data gathered by the two photosensors is either stored or compared against previously saved information to positively identify the user. In an associated patent also published today, the invention is extended to take in data from motion sensors like accelerometers and gyroscopes to determine user movement. Certain gestures, for example raising the device from waist height to head height, trigger the authentication process. AppleInsider notes that the system could replace Touch ID during Apple Pay payments and further reduce the watch's reliance on iPhone, although it's unclear if heart rate data can be a unique enough identifier to ensure the same level of

Apple Patent Integrates Ambient Light Sensor Directly Into iPhone's Display

The United States Patent and Trademark Office today granted Apple another patent that could help the company create a bezel-free, edge-to-edge display for future generation iPhones. The new patent describes "electronic devices with display-integrated light sensors" and specifically refers to methods by which the company could stack the iPhone's ambient light sensor underneath the display, instead of next to it on the iPhone's bezel (via AppleInsider). In the patent, there are a few configurations through which Apple could execute the technology. One showcases the light sensors -- which help the iPhone detect the ambient light in a room or outside -- integrated directly above the touch-sensitive layer of the display (figure 6), while another has the sensor placed next to the touch-sensitive layer without intersecting it (figure 9). The patent notes that the methods of executing this technology aren't limited to just light sensors, but could be used for "a proximity sensor, or any other sensor." In a typical device, a light sensor is laterally displaced from an active display region of the display along a front face of the device. Additional space is therefore provided in common devices at the top, bottom, or side of the active display area to accommodate the light sensor. This can result in an undesirable increase in the size and weight of the device, if care is not taken, displays may be bulky or may be surrounded by overly large borders. It would therefore be desirable to be able to provide improved electronic devices with light sensors and displays. In the

New Apple Patent Describes Fingerprint Sensor That Could Work Through Display

The United States Patent and Trademark Office today granted Apple a patent that describes a Touch ID sensor which could effectively detect and read a user's fingerprints through other components of the smartphone, "such as display stacks and touch screens" (via AppleInsider). While going unspecified, the technology aligns with the current rumors for the iPhone 8, which is expected to eliminate the Home Button for good and integrate various pieces of the smartphone directly into the display, including Touch ID. Described in the new patent, there are many reasons Apple is looking to integrate Touch ID into the iPhone's screen, "not the least of which is an interest in avoiding assigning valuable surface space exclusively to an component that may only be used briefly during the process of identifying the user." But the company still had to face multiple issues when building the new technology, namely a "blurring of the electric field" that brought about a loss of resolution of the fingerprint images as they were being transferred through the space between the Touch ID sensor and the iPhone's screen. To combat the gap between where the user places their finger, and the technology reading the fingerprint data under the display, Apple's patent proposes the use of electrostatic lenses, which are described as including "one or more patterned conductive layer(s)." In an example laid out by the patent, the position, relative voltage, and shapes of the patterned conductive layer or layers can be altered to shape the electric field specifically associated with the user's

Apple Ordered to Pay $22 Million to Patent Firm Acacia Research

A federal jury in Tyler, Texas has ordered Apple to pay $22.1 million to patent firm Acacia Research for violating U.S. Patent No. 8,055,820, related to cellular network technologies, according to court documents filed electronically this week. The monetary award is a running royalty for Apple's infringement through March 2016. The jury said Apple did not prove with clear and convincing evidence that any asserted claims of the patent are invalid as obvious or based on improper inventorship. Apple's infringement was found to be willful, which in patent litigation means the patent holder can request that the judge enhance the damages by up to three times, or up to roughly $66.4 million in this particular lawsuit. The lawsuit, filed in January 2014, accused Apple of selling multiple products that infringe upon the patent, including the iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s, iPad 3, iPad 4, iPad Air, iPad mini, and iPad mini 2. U.S. Patent No. 8,055,820, titled "apparatus, system, and method for designating a buffer status reporting format based on detected pre-selected buffer conditions," is highly technical and at one point was assigned to Nokia. AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Boost Mobile were also named as defendants for selling the infringing iPhones, but none of the carriers were named in the jury verdict. U.S. Magistrate Judge K. Nicole Mitchell presided over the case in the U.S. District Court for Eastern Texas, a popular region for non-practicing entities like Acacia Research and VirnetX to bring patent litigation against companies like Apple. Acacia

Apple Researching Forensic Data Capture in Cases of iOS Device Theft

Apple is investigating ways that future iOS devices could store the biometric details of suspected criminals in cases of theft (via AppleInsider). An Apple patent published today by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office describes "Biometric capture for unauthorized user identification", by using an iPhone or iPad's Touch ID feature, camera, and other sensors. The proposed system augments typical Touch ID verification by capturing and storing information about a potential thief after six fingerprint unlocking attempts have failed and the wrong passcode is inputted 10 times (after which a "cool down" period or a complete data wipe is activated, depending on user setting). In another variation, a single failed authentication triggers the capture of fingerprint data and the device takes a picture of the user via the front-facing camera. In yet other embodiments, the system can be configured by the user to enable or disable various triggers and scenarios in which the biometric capture protocols are activated. The patent also specifies how other data could be logged in the background to supplement the biometric capture, including time stamps, device location, speed, air pressure, audio data, and more. Flowcharts illustrate different implementations of the security system. After capture, the data is stored either locally on the device or sent to a remote server for evaluation, while purges of data are activated when the system determines that it is no longer required. In suggested uses that are likely to be controversial, Apple describes how the server-side

Apple Patent Details Visual-Based AR Navigation Device

Apple has been granted an augmented reality navigation patent stemming from its acquisition of AR startup Flyby Media earlier this year (via AppleInsider). The patent was published today by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office under the title "Visual-based inertial navigation", and describes a system that allows a consumer device to position itself in three-dimensional space using data from cameras and sensors. The system combines images from an onboard camera with measurements gleaned from a gyroscope and accelerometers as well as other sensors, to build a picture of the device's real-time position in physical space. The patent notes that visual-based inertial navigation systems can achieve positional awareness down to the centimeter scale without the need for GPS or cellular network signals. However, the technology is unsuitable for implementation in typical mobile devices because of the processing demands involved in variable real-time location tracking. To overcome the limitation, Apple's invention uses something called a sliding window inverse filter (SWF) that minimizes computational load by using predictive coding to map the orientation of objects relative to the device. The system could be used in a navigational AR device that overlays an output image with location-based information. One scenario describes how the technology could be used to pinpoint items in a retail store as a user walks among the aisles. Another describes the use of depth sensors to generate a 3D map of a given environment. Whether or not Apple uses the patent in an

Patent Granted: Steve Jobs' Remote Control App For a Yacht

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office today granted a patent application that details a remote control device for a marine vessel, a concept that Steve Jobs was originally credited the inventor of (via PatentlyApple). The patent, titled "Remote motion control using a wireless mobile device", was filed in 2013 and has just been granted, now registered under Apple and Savant Systems. Savant is a manufacturer of luxury home automation systems and worked with Jobs on the late Apple co-founder's super yacht, named the Venus. The patent describes a general-purpose device with a touchscreen, similar to an iPhone, which executes an application that remotely controls a vehicle (e.g. a marine vessel, such as a yacht). The device communicates wirelessly with an interface linked to the vessel's electronic control system, which collects environmental and system status information like wind speed and water depth from a series of sensors. The control system also transmits and receives signals to the vessel's subsystems, such as throttle controllers, transmission, and rudders, enabling it to maneuver the vehicle remotely over the wireless network. The patent goes on to describe the application's packet delivery and user interface module, as well as a network health monitor that enables and disables functional control. The touchscreen displays status information for the vessel and shows which controls are engaged, among other subsystem data. Jobs' super yacht was designed by Philippe Starck's design company Ubik and built by Headship. Jobs died in October 2011,

Apple Sued Over iPhone's Proximity Sensor in New Patent Troll Lawsuit

511 Innovations, Inc. is the latest patent troll to file a complaint against Apple with the U.S. District Court for Eastern Texas, claiming that the iPhone's proximity sensor infringes upon five of its patents. The asserted patents¹, filed between 1999 and 2012, relate to various methods for measuring optical characteristics of an object, such as color spectrums, translucence, gloss, and position detection. 511 Innovations is a Texas-based non-practicing entity that does not appear to sell any sensor-related products, but instead seeks to enforce its patented technologies through litigation. Eastern Texas is a common district for patent holding firms to target larger companies like Apple, which has fought similar lawsuits from VirnetX, Dot 23, VoIP-Pal, and others in recent years. The small firm acquired the asserted patents in 2013 from JJL Technologies, which claims to have sold world market-leading spectrophotometers, according to court documents filed electronically this week. It then licensed the patents to Spectral Sensors, whose website has been "under construction" since 2013. Further complicating things, JJL Technologies had acquired the patents itself from LJ Laboratories. 511 Innovations has demanded a jury trial and is seeking damages in the form of a reasonable royalty, plus interest and fees, in addition to a permanent U.S. sales ban on iPhones and all other infringing products and services. Legal battles of this nature can prove costly. Last month, Apple agreed to license Cover Flow- and Time Machine-related patents from Mirror World

Apple Countersues Caltech and Settles With Dot 23 in Patent Lawsuits

Apple and Broadcom have jointly filed counterclaims against the California Institute of Technology in an ongoing Wi-Fi-related lawsuit, denying any alleged infringement of the technologies and urging the court to invalidate the asserted patents, according to court documents filed electronically this week. Apple argued that Caltech did not file the lawsuit until May 26, 2016, more than six years after the publication of the 802.11n wireless standard, and thereby the time limit to collect damages has passed under U.S. law. It also argued that Caltech does not make, use, or sell any product that practices any claim of the asserted patents. Caltech's patents, granted between 2006 and 2012, are highly technical and relate to IRA codes that utilize simpler encoding and decoding circuitry for improved data transmission rates and performance. The technologies are implemented in both the 802.11n and 802.11ac Wi-Fi standards used by many Apple products. The asserted patents include U.S. Patent No. 7,116,710, U.S. Patent No. 7,421,032, U.S. Patent No. 7,916,781, and U.S. Patent No. 8,284,833. In a May 2016 court filing with the U.S. District Court for Central California, Caltech accused Apple of selling various Mac, iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch models, along with other Wi-Fi products, that incorporate those IRA/LDPC encoders and/or decoders and thereby infringe upon the four asserted patents in question. Apple provided a series of other defenses, including Caltech's failure to disclose prior art, which is any information or evidence that might be relevant to a

Apple Faces Patent Lawsuit Over iPhone's Battery Technologies

Somaltus, LLC has filed a complaint against Apple today in an Eastern Texas district court, accusing the iPhone maker of infringing upon its 2010 patent related to complex battery technologies. The small Frisco, Texas-based firm also filed lawsuits against Asus, Lenovo, Samsung, Sony, and Toshiba over the same patent. The lawsuit claims that the iPhone 6s and any similar devices sold by Apple infringe upon U.S. Patent No. 7,657,386, titled "Integrated Battery Service System," and seeks unspecified monetary damages or, alternatively, a running royalty on sales of infringing devices from the time of judgment going forward.Defendant sells, offers to sell, and/or uses telephones including, without limitation, the iPhone 6s (the "Product"), for example, and any similar devices, which infringe at least Claim 1 of the ‘386 Patent. On information and belief, the Product includes a battery service system including a processor (e.g., the A9 chip), which is configured to receive signals from connectors coupled to a battery (e.g., the Product's rechargeable lithium-ion battery).Specifically, it appears that the infringement claim at least partially relates to the iPhone's process of charging in fast-charge mode until the battery reaches 80% capacity, and then adjusting to trickle-charge mode above 80% capacity.On information and belief, the processor executes the control codes to continually adjust a charge level to the battery. The Product has a charging system according to which the system operates in fast-charge mode until the battery reaches 80% capacity and then adjusts

Apple Pays $25 Million in Settlement Over Cover Flow, Time Machine Patents

Apple will pay $25 million to settle a patent lawsuit with Network-1 Technologies' subsidiary Mirror World Technologies and license its patents, the companies announced today. The patent (No. 6,006,227) dates back to 1999, covering a system that stores documents in a stream ordered chronologically, similar to Apple's Cover Flow or Time Machine. Under the terms of the agreement, Apple will receive a fully paid up non-exclusive license to the '227 Patent for its full term, which expired in 2016, along with certain rights to other patents in Network-1's portfolio. Network-1 will receive $25 million from Apple for the settlement and fully paid up license.The technologies described in the patent were developed from the work of Yale University computer scientist Professor David Gelernter and his then-graduate student Dr. Eric Freeman in 1996. They then founded Mirror Worlds LLC, which began a long-running legal fight with Apple over the patent. In 2010, Apple was hit with a $625 million judgment over the patent. A year later, Apple won a reversal of the decision and the judge closed the case in Apple's favor. In 2013, Mirror Worlds was purchased by Network-1 and the company acquired Mirror World's patents. Network-1 describes itself as a company "engaged in the development, licensing and protection of its intellectual property and proprietary technologies." Last year, the company also reached a settlement with Microsoft for $4.6 million over the same

Pennsylvania Man Sues Apple Over Web Carousel Use

Pennsylvania resident Samuel Lit has hit Apple with a lawsuit claiming that the company infringed on his patent for web carousels, according to documents filed in the Northern Illinois District Court (via AppleInsider). Apple's website typically features a homepage with a carousel containing four to five windows displaying its products. Lit owns U.S. Patent No. 8,793,330, which is a "system and method for displaying graphics, art, text, animation, video and other content." It's described as a "three-dimensional 'Display Carousel' system" that can cycle through its windows in a rotating manner that makes it look like a carousel at a predetermined speed. The lawsuit claims that Apple's website, which also has a system that cycles through windows in a rotating manner at a predetermined speed, infringes some or all of the 20 claims of the patent. Some of Apple's infringements on Claim 16 include having a "system for displaying content," a "display carousel embedded" into the website, a display engine to deliver the carousel content when its on a web browser, and a database to track how many customers purchase things linked from the carousel. Lit is seeking "reasonable" royalties with interest. While Lit is a radio broadcaster, he used to work with software systems and engines for Hy Lit Radio Technologies, which was named after his father Hy Lit, another radio broadcaster. He previously attempted to monetize his patent via a website called but the site shut down in

Florida Man Sues Apple for $10+ Billion, Says iOS Devices Copy His 1992 Drawings

Florida resident Thomas S. Ross has filed a lawsuit against Apple this week, claiming that the iPhone, iPad, and iPod infringe upon his 1992 invention of a hand-drawn "Electronic Reading Device" (ERD). The court filing claims the plaintiff was "first to file a device so designed and aggregated," nearly 15 years before the first iPhone. Between May 23, 1992 and September 10, 1992, Ross designed three hand-drawn technical drawings of the device, primarily consisting of flat rectangular panels with rounded corners that "embodied a fusion of design and function in a way that never existed prior to 1992."What Ross contemplated, was a device that could allow one to read stories, novels, news articles, as well as look at pictures, watch video presentations, or even movies, on a flat touch-screen that was back-lit. He further imagined that it could include communication functions, such as a phone and a modem, input/output capability, so as to allow the user to write notes, and be capable of storing reading and writing material utilizing internal and external storage media. He also imagined that the device would have batteries and even be equipped with solar panels.Ross applied for a utility patent to protect his invention in November 1992, but the application was declared abandoned in April 1995 by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office after he failed to pay the required application fees. He also filed to copyright his technical drawings with the U.S. Copyright Office in 2014. While the plaintiff claims that he continues to experience "great and irreparable injury that

Apple Invents Touch-Sensitive Stylus, Mobile That Knows Which Hand You're Using

Apple has submitted a patent application for a next-generation stylus with a touch-sensitive body (via Apple Insider). Details of the invention were published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office today under the title "Stylus with touch sensor", describing an input device with an array of capacitive touch sensors along the instrument's body. The sensors determine the position of the user's fingers and this information can be interpreted as gestures to control aspects of the user interface on the display device. In some versions, electrodes are installed around the body of the stylus to improve the accuracy of touch detection, including single- and multi-touch gestures. Apple claims that the sensor design is such that it can detect when the user is rotating the stylus based on the location of two fingers. This data can then be used to perform functions like rotating a virtual object on the display, selecting a brush size in a drawing app, or changing a zoom level. Motion gestures are also described in the application. Running a finger up or down the stylus body could control UI window scrolling, for instance. Meanwhile, support for force gestures enables the user to, say, squeeze the stylus to invoke virtual buttons on screen, or increase drawing precision by tightening grip, for instance. While Apple's idea for a touch-sensitive stylus is impressive in concept, in practice it would likely be a highly challenging technological undertaking, given the variability in the way users grip pens as well as differences in hand size. Whether Apple plans to

Apple Granted Patent For iPhone With Wraparound All-Glass Display

Apple has been granted a patent for a possible future iPhone with a wraparound all-glass display (via Patently Apple). The application was submitted in 2011 but granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office today, detailing various embodiments of a portable consumer device with a wraparound screen. In one example, the device is described as having a transparent housing and a flexible display enclosed within it which is capable of showing visual content at any position inside the housing – using virtual buttons in place of physical volume controls on the handset edge, for instance. The same embodiment is also described as having a second flexible display assembly that works in concert with the primary one to present visual content in positions beyond the main screen. The concept images appear to show an old 30-pin connector on the device, likely because Apple's Lightning port had yet to come to market when they were being drawn up. Nevertheless, the granted patent is timely for Apple – rumors since the beginning of the year have suggested it is looking at the possibility of adopting a curved display for the 2017 iPhone, however it is unclear whether the invention described here would be linked to any special "anniversary iPhone" Apple may be working on. Other rumors about the 2017 iPhone, which may be called the "iPhone 8" instead of the traditional "iPhone 7s" because of the changes expected, include an edge-to-edge bezel-free display with built-in Touch ID functionality, no home button, and a glass body.

Apple Patents Water-Resistant Speaker Port and Bone Conduction Earbuds

Apple was granted patents today that include a concept for water-resistant iPhone speakers and a bone conduction technology that could bring advanced noise cancellation to future earbuds (via AppleInsider). The first application granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is titled "Liquid resistant acoustic device" and details a protected acoustic port that uses a special mesh "umbrella" inserted between apertures in a device's housing, similar to the design of the mesh-covered loudspeaker found in current iPhones. If liquid enters through the housing apertures it immediately comes into contact with the umbrella and is directed away from the internals, although in some versions a small amount of liquid is allowed to pass through if the handset is under significant pressure, to avoid structural damage. Apple's invention also includes a second line of liquid defense, in the form of a "hydrophobic" coating applied to the outer surface of the iPhone housing and mesh umbrella, while a "hydrophilic" coating applied to the inside of the mesh works to draw liquid out. As with all patents, whether or not Apple decides to use the invention in any future product remains unclear, although AppleInsider notes that a similar port design can already be found on the current Apple Watch. Several rumors claim that the upcoming iPhone 7 could be properly waterproof, but it's not obvious that the invention described above would meet the requirements of such a specification. Another Apple patent was awarded today, called "System and method of mixing accelerometer

Apple Closer to Escaping $533 Million Verdict Won by Smartflash LLC

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on May 26 invalidated two of three patents owned by Smartflash LLC, a patent licensing firm that was awarded a $532.9 million verdict against Apple in February 2015, according to Bloomberg.A three-judge panel at the patent agency found that the two patents never should have been issued in the first place because the idea of storing and paying for data is an abstract concept, not a specific invention.A third patent owned by Smartflash LLC was also invalidated in late March, increasing the odds that Apple will not have to pay the large sum. Smartflash LLC, which fits the description of a patent troll, can still ask the Patent Trial and Appeal Board to reconsider and file an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Last year, a federal jury for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas found certain iTunes apps to be infringing upon Smartflash LLC's patents, related to digital rights management, data storage, and managing access through payment systems. Apple appealed the decision, arguing that the patents were invalid. Smartflash LLC also targeted Samsung and Google with similar patent infringement

Caltech Accuses Apple of Violating its Patented Wi-Fi Technologies

Apple and Broadcom have been jointly named as defendants in a legal complaint filed by the California Institute of Technology last week over alleged infringement of its various patented Wi-Fi-related technologies. Caltech's patents, granted between 2006 and 2012, are highly technical and relate to IRA/LDPC codes that utilize simpler encoding and decoding circuitry for improved data transmission rates and performance. The technologies are implemented in both the 802.11n and 802.11ac Wi-Fi standards used by many Apple products. In the court filing with the U.S. District Court for Central California, Caltech accused Apple of selling various iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple Watch models, along with other Wi-Fi products, that incorporate these IRA/LDPC encoders and/or decoders and thereby infringe upon the four asserted patents in question.Apple manufactures, uses, imports, offers for sale, and/or sells Wi-Fi products that incorporate IRA/LDPC encoders and/or decoders and infringe the Asserted Patents. Apple products that incorporate IRA/LDPC encoders and/or decoders and infringe the Asserted Patents include, but are not limited to, the following: iPhone SE, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s, iPhone 5, iPad Air, iPad Air 2, iPad Pro, iPad Mini 4, iPad Mini 3, iPad Mini 2, MacBook Air [and] Apple Watch.Apple has at least temporarily pulled stock of its AirPort Extreme and Time Capsule Wi-Fi base stations from its U.S. stores, but it's unclear if the move is related. Broadcom, as one of Apple's main suppliers of Wi-Fi chips, is also

Apple Patent Details Smart Walkie-Talkie Lightning Headphones

An Apple patent was published today detailing a headset and communications platform that uses point-to-point network technology instead of cellular (via AppleInsider). The application published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, called "Point-to-Point ad hoc voice communication", describes a headset invention capable of connecting with similar devices over local wireless ad hoc networks, or peer-to-peer links. The proposed headset comes with an assortment of audio hardware including the requisite microphone and speaker, and also features a communications module that enables it to interface with other headsets in close proximity. In some versions, the device connects via Lightning or standard headphone jack to a mobile device, allowing for the possibility of special interfacing software. The use of Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or similar protocols are favored over typical cellular or satellite communications, allowing for extremely low latency communications and reduced delay between devices in close proximity. The exhaustively detailed patent was drafted by a former Sennheiser engineer, and amounts to what could be described as an enhanced walkie-talkie system with touch-enabled, icon-based GUI for establishing connections between peers. As with all patents, the invention may never see the light of day in any consumer product, but the device does hold interesting possibilities for use by Apple Store staff or between development teams in Apple

Apple Patents Advanced iPad Covers With Customizable Displays and Notification Widgets

The United States Patent and Trademark Office today granted Apple a patent that describes a collection of iPad-compatible Smart Covers that could integrate various display technologies to greatly enhance "the overall functionality of the tablet device." The original patent application was published in August 2012 and dates back to August 2011, four years before Apple introduced the original iPad Pro and its Smart Connector. (via Patently Apple). The first integration of a next-generation Smart Cover lies in video playback, where a user could watch a video with the cover folded up into a triangle like Apple's current Smart Covers allow, but now supporting a set of touch-sensitive areas for play, pause, fast forward, and rewind controls. Although the user would not be able to directly see where they were pressing down, "the size and location of the touch sensitive areas can allow for a user to easily learn the locations after a short familiarization period," according to the patent. Another suggestion for a Smart Connector-enabled cover has an internal display with "a completely customized control scheme," which would let users change up the cover's input to be anything from a traditional QWERTY keyboard to a sketchbook for artists. The addition of another screen of a size in comparison to the iPad's would introduce an iOS experience "much closer to the one enjoyed by laptop users." A Smart Cover with AMOLED display (left) and e-ink display (right) One of the more basic and interesting applications lies in a Smart Cover that could show notifications and