The Patent Office has granted Apple 13 new patents, including #7,653,883 for a proximity-sensing multi-touch screen. The proximity-sensing screen patent, describes a touchscreen that can detect when an object (like a finger or a stylus) is close to the screen but not touching it, and then offer up context-dependent controls based on what it detects.
Apple recently applied for a patent to put contacts on the iPhone home screen. The patent gives pretty solid evidence that the next iPhone OS iteration will include this feature.
The patent shows that the custom icons for contacts won’t just be for speed dialing but will be able to perform wide range of things, such as launching any app you specify that is personalized to the contact or display information about the contact.
One of the options has the icon for the contact that shows up on your home screen based on the persons proximity to you, so if someone gets within a certain range to you then they will show up on your home screen, however this will probably only work on iPhones or possibly phones that have GPS.
The icon can also be used to invoke one or more applications that are personalized to the contact. The icon can be modified to display information related to the contact. In one aspect, an icon associated with an entity can be temporarily displayed on the mobile device based on the proximity of the mobile device to the entity.
A recent patent filing made by Apple suggests that the iPhone could provide a customized home screen depending on the current user location.
The filing was revealed by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office this week. The filing was dated February 21st 2008 for “Transitional Data Set”, it describes an invention that would display specific applications populated based on dynamic factors such as location.
“The user can create a set of location-aware applications that can be populated by transitional data sets,” the filing reads. “A transitional data set is a data set that can change based on the current location of the mobile device… as determined by a positioning technology (e.g., GPS, cell tower triangulation, Wi-Fi).”
“If the user’s home is in New York, then the user may configure a “weather” widget to display the weather in New York as a default,” the filing reads, “and such default information can be persistent. If the user travels to San Francisco, the user can touch the “Here” button… and the “weather” widget will automatically display the weather for San Francisco… Thus each time the user travels to San Francisco, the location-aware mobile device… can automatically populate the “weather widget with transitional data associated with San Francisco.”
Apple has a new patent titled “Auto Messaging to Currently Connected Caller.” This patent focuses around the idea of sending documents, emails, text messagess, files, etc. to the person who you are calling.
|While a user of a mobile device is using telephony services, the user may want to send a message or a file to another part . . . To send this information, the user may have to disconnect the call, and then perform a lookup of the caller’s contact information prior to being able to send the message or file. This multi-step process can be tedious for the user.|
The data could be sent through various network types like GSM, GPRS, Edge, Wi-Fi, WiMax and Bluetooth. Apple’s interface would provide users with a way to access all the file sharing features while on call the system would be capable to directing the various types of data correctly all at once.
Apple is doing a lot of looking into file sharing technology for it mobiles. A similar patent that AppleInsider discovered in June details how an iPhone could share media like music, video, podcasts, images, voice mails with other iPhone users.
This patent describes the ways to alter the voice output from the iPhone, such as the playback of audio files. Most would think this would be used for reading text from an eBook, but the patent suggests that it would be for audio and not text.
Despite the restrictions involved in playing back audio files, users of media devices may wish to change the audio output of audio files. A mother, for example, might wish to change the narrator’s voice in a pre-recorded, commercially available audiobook to her own voice, so that her child can listen to the audiobook as narrated in the mother’s voice in her absence. In another scenario, a student listening to a lecture as a podcast file might want to change the audio of certain sections of the lecture to sound like someone else’s voice, so as to emphasize important parts of the lecture.
Apple has filed a few changes to the SMS messaging interface. The first, called Multiple Recipient Messaging Service for Mobile Device (# 20090176517), allows sending a message to multiple recipients at once (as shown above), this could be helpful for sending texts to maybe a team of people. Apple suggest that the app to check the status of the messages after a certain interval of time to see if they were received. If some of the messages weren’t received, it offers an interface in which the sender could easily resend the message to those who didn’t receive it, and also giving the user the option to send it through a different medium such as email.
The other patent application, called Systems, methods and apparatus for providing unread message alerts (# 20090177617), suggests way that make it easier for the user to read unread messages. For example, it suggests checking to see if someone you are about to contact has sent you a message you haven’t, it gives the user a way of viewing the message before contracting them. It would cross-check unread emails, SMS messages, voicemails etc. for that contact.
This patent explains the different ways the iPhone could filter text based communications in your iPhone. Apple says the main use for this is, to censor objectionable text like swear words in email for children, or to help someone learn a foreign language by forcing someone to send emails in that language.
…control application includes an instructional tool or study aid where the administrator sets one or more modes, such as language, vocabulary, grammar, spelling, punctuation and/or other content of a text-based communication based on, for example, a user’s age or grade level. This can be especially useful, for example, such as when a child’s grades go down. A parent can then institute a condition to improve a child’s grades. For example, the control application may require a user during specified time periods to send messages in a designated foreign language, to include certain designated vocabulary words, or to use proper designated spelling, designated grammar and designated punctuation and like designated language forms based on the user’s defined skill level and/or designated language skill rating. If the text-based communication fails to include the required language or format, the control application may alert the user and/or the administrator/parent of the absence of such text.
Systems and methods for identifying objects and providing information related to identified objects (# 20090175499)
This patent filed by Apple shows a technology that would allow the user to point the iPhone’s camera at an object. The software would then recognize what the object is, then provide relevant additional information about it. The methods for recognition would be either image or camera recognition technologies, Barcode scanning, RFID tags or other similar technologies. Different modes could also be set up so that the recognition process would be easier based upon where you are such as a restaurant, museum etc.
Personal computing device control using face detection and recognition (#20090175509)
This patent describes the various techniques that Apple might use to the the iPhone the ability to recognize faces of which the camera is pointed at. If these methods are implemented, the facial recognition could add another layer of security to the phone by only allowing use by certain people or deciding whether or not to put the device to sleep.