Motorola’s dual screen, “gaze detecting” smartwatch patent

Lately, the smartwatch is all the rage. Not so much with consumers, but at Android Authority, where we’ve been beset on all sides by news of wearable technology. The latest comes from Motorola, who filed a “wearable display device” with the USPTO (US Patent and Trade office) back in February. While the big story is Motorola’s “gaze detection” technology, and creepy patent pictures showcasing it, the filing has a lot more to it...

Read the full story here... Source: Android Authority

Nuts Apple patent protects iPhone by flipping it as it falls

File this Apple invention under B for bonkers. The company has just been granted a patent that protects your iPhone when you drop it, Apple Insider reports.

It apparently adjusts the device's position as it's falling, so it lands on its back or edge instead of the screen. And if you think that's crazy, that's just the tip of the iceberg. Wait until you see how Apple plans to make it work.

The patent is for use in any gizmo with a processor, including tablets and laptops, but the iPhone is specifically mentioned. In order to see how the tumbling tablet or falling phone is positioned, the system will need to use a sensor, which could be the gyroscope, accelerometer, GPS or imaging sensor. A processor tells the system how fast the device is falling, and how far it is from the ground, among other things. It'll remember previous pratfalls too, to help it make its mind up more quickly.

Now, how to actually tilt the device so it doesn't land face first? A number of possible solutions are suggested, including a shifting weight within the phone, lift foils that extend out to the surface, and even a miniature gas canister to act as a thrust, like a tiny jet pack. Amazing.

The patent was originally filed back in September 2011, and was just granted this week. I think it's safe to say we have a while to wait until this finds its way into the iPhone. But it's pretty cool, you have to admit. The only issue -- aside from the problem of how to fit a gas canister to an iPhone -- is that I've known screens to shatter when phones have landed on their edges. So maybe Apple will need to toughen up its handset's chassis somewhat as well.

[Source: CNET]

New Apple 'iWatch' Patent Application Reveals Slap Bracelet with Wraparound Touch-Sensitive Display

A newly-published patent application from Apple discovered by AppleInsider discloses a new "bracelet" accessory with a wraparound design where the screen would cover the entire outer surface. While the word "watch" is not used anywhere in the patent application, which was filed in August 2011, the "wearable video device" described in the document could clearly serve as an advanced wristwatch.

The patent application describes a "bi-stable spring" design, where the watch strap would automatically curve snugly around any sized wrist, the two ends overlapping as required. The display itself would be flexible, and the patent describes a method by which any portion of the display covered by the overlap could be automatically switched off.

The device's screen is described as having a "touch-sensitive user interface" overlaid on the flexible display, in contrast to the physical buttons used on existing smart watches like Pebble.

The design comprises a thin flexible steel band within a fabric wrap, with the screen glued to the outer surface and the electronics and battery glued to the inner surface, though it also refers to the possibility of a more robust design with a fabric frame surrounding the display.

The display appears to be made up of a series of flexible segments which would be flat when the watch is placed on a desk but which curve as much as needed to fit the wrist when the watch is worn.

The patent application also gives clues as to the possible size of the watch, suggesting a width of one inch. though it should be noted that this refers only to the 'typical' width of such bracelets rather than any specific plan by Apple:

The most recent widespread use of such a device was the slap bracelet, also called the slap wrap. The slap bracelet consists of layered flexible steel bands sealed within a fabric cover. Typical slap bracelets are roughly one inch in width by nine inches in length. In a first equilibrium position they can be flat. The second equilibrium is typically reached by slapping the flat embodiment across the wrist, at which point the bracelet curls around the wrist and stays relatively secure in a roughly circular position.

The patent suggests that gyroscopes and accelerometers would be used to allow the watch to determine the orientation of the display, depending, for example, on whether it was worn on left or right wrist.

The patent application also lends weight to speculation that the watch would be a partner device to an iPhone rather than a standalone product, as it refers to "a method for passing information between an accessory device disposed on one surface of a bi-stable spring substrate and a portable electronic device." The watch would act as an input device as well as a display, with reference to a virtual keyboard.

While plugging in the watch to a power source appears to be the primary means of charging the battery, the patent also discusses options for solar power and kinetic charging of the battery, two technologies Apple has addressed in previous patent applications.

Many of Apple's patent applications of course never come to fruition in the form of released products, with Apple instead seeking to control certain technologies or aspects of devices that may appear in completely different forms. As a result, it is unlikely that Apple has plans to launch such a slap bracelet watch accessory, but the patent application does give some insight into what Apple has been considering as it has worked on the project.

[Source: MacRumors]

Apple files patent for true wireless charging technology

When it comes to wireless charging, today's options aren't exactly as cord-free as the label would suggest. Things like charging mats or other wireless docking options are fine and all, but adding more accessories and bulky cases to the mix is often more trouble than it's worth. As Wired reports, a patent filed this week by Apple side steps these pesky add-ons and could offer true wireless charging for the first time on Apple hardware.

The patent -- titled Wireless Power Utilization In A Local Computing Environment -- uses near-field magnetic resonance to push power to compatible devices from a central unit, creating what is effectively an invisible bubble where your gadgets can recharge without the need for cords or plugs of any kind. So imagine your wireless keyboard and mouse simply never running out of juice, or even being able to set your phone or tablet down on your desk and have them recharge on their own.

[Source: TUAW - Click here to read the full story]

Sony patent application details hybrid DualShock / PlayStation Move controller

If you think Sony's DualShock and Move controllers are two halves of a well-rounded gaming experience, you might be pleased to know that the firm has dreamt up a hybrid. A patent application filed last year by Kaz and Co. for a "Hybrid Separable Motion Controller" has just surfaced, and it describes a controller that can function as two independent parts or locked together as one. The application also suggests that the location of the controller's halves could be independently tracked when separated and that video games played with the Franken-hardware could switch to configuration-appropriate control schemes. A similar concept has popped up before, but that's no guarantee the contraption will ever see the light of day. In any case, you can hit the bordering source link to dig into the filing and fantasize what such a piece of kit could mean for gaming.

[Source: Engadget]

Google bags patent for directions based on cell coverage

Want to get somewhere, but don't want to miss an email, or risk a break in the directions on the way? A patent granted to Google suggests it's been thinking about the very same thing. Read through the details, and it all sounds fairly familiar -- receiving origin and destination, planning a route etc. But, this time, there's the added hop of accessing wireless coverage data, and stirring that info into the returned directions mix. The flow charts in the literature suggest that this could be a user input option. So, along with the choice of fastest and most economical, maybe some day we'll be seeing one for "fastest data" too. Someone resurrect the term "information superhighway," and quick.

[Source: Engadget]

Apple and HTC reach global patent dispute settlement, agree to ten-year licensing agreement

Apple and HTC have announced that the two companies have reached a global settlement regarding the two firm’s multiple patent infringement lawsuits. The agreement is on a global-scale and includes a ten-year licensing agreement. All current lawsuits have been dismissed.

TAIPEI, Taiwan and CUPERTINO, California—November 10, 2012—HTC and Apple® have reached a global settlement that includes the dismissal of all current lawsuits and a ten-year license agreement. The license extends to current and future patents held by both parties. The terms of the settlement are confidential.

“We are glad to have reached a settlement with HTC,” said Tim Cook, CEO of Apple. “We will continue to stay laser focused on product innovation.” Peter Chou, HTC’s CEO, said “HTC is pleased to have resolved its dispute with Apple, so HTC can focus on innovation instead of litigation.”

[Source: 9to5Mac - Click here to read the full story]

Latest Apple patents include "invisible" touch controls

Apple recently filed a patent that makes touch controls disappear -- literally. The patent (No. 8,303,151) is for something called "microperforation illumination," and while the name is catchy, the technology is actually rather complex. First you pick a non-display surface of a device like a laptop. For this example, let's just say the top of the laptop's lid. Then, using microperforations in the surface itself, you pass light through the material, making a shape appear. Combining this idea with touch controls means you could soon have "invisible" buttons that appear when in use, but disappear promptly afterwards.

But the patent goes beyond just the idea of invisible controls. There is also the mention of varying sizes and shapes of microperforation, and even tiny lenses that could control the flow of light from one side to the other. However, as with all patents that make us raise an inquisitive eyebrow, there's no clear indication of what product, if any, might incorporate this rather interesting feature.

[Source: TUAW]

Apple files anti-theft patent that uses accelerometers to detect theft-like movement

What kind of movement does a theft entail? Apple's in the process of figuring that out, today filing a patent application for a, "acceleration-based theft detection system for portable electronic devices." Apple pickers: you've just been put on watch. According to the patent filing, said device would activate an alarm of some form after determining, "whether a theft condition is present." It'll apparently figure that out based on the accelerometer built into many of Apple's mobile devices -- the same thing that figures out which way you're holding your phone. Beyond just the hardware, said theft protection system would work in concert with software to determine if the movement matches a pre-determined "profile characteristic of theft."

[Source: Engadget - Click here to read more]

Apple receives patent for original iPad design

A week before the expected launch of the much-rumored "iPad Mini," Apple has been granted the design patent for the original iPad. Filed a day before the initial announcement in 2010, the patent references older patents going back to the 1940s and lists Steve Jobs and Jonathan Ive among the inventors. As our sister site Engadget says, it gives Apple one more tool in its ongoing patent litigation against Samsung and other companies.

Other iPad-related patents have been approved by the USPTO, including an unused one that has an extra USB slot for connections in landscape mode.

[Source: TUAW]

Apple files patent application for fingerprint sensor that can be transparent or opaque

While Apple has flirted with biometric-based patents before, we've yet to see them implemented in real-world technology. That hasn't stopped it from filing yet another one though, as the latest application reveals a fingerprint sensor apparently embedded into the iPhone itself. The patent describes a hardware "window" that can become selectively "transparent or opaque." When transparent, it would reveal a component comprised of an "image capture device, a strobe flash, a biometric sensor, a light sensor, a proximity sensor, or a solar panel, or a combination thereof" as a method of unlocking the phone. According to the filing, the biometric sensor in question might indeed be a fingerprint reader. The document goes on to describe an alternative method using face or eye recognition technology that can be used not just for security purposes, but for possible e-commerce solutions like completing an online transaction. Of course, take any of these patent applications with a generous pinch of salt -- we haven't seen an Apple stylus yet, for example -- but perhaps this is the reason Apple bought fingerprint sensor maker AuthenTec back in July.

[Source: Engadget]