Wireless charging is set to take off this year with the likes of HTC’s (2498) Windows Phone 8X, Nokia’s (NOK) Lumia 920 and 820 and Google’s (GOOG) Nexus 4. By comparison, Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone 5 feels decidedly last-gen without wireless charging or NFC. Apple’s reason for omitting wireless charging is that smartphones still need charging stations/plates plugged into the wall to work. A new Apple patent discovered by AppleInsider suggests the company is investigating a more elegant solution – wireless charging that uses “near-field magnetic resonance” to recharge an iPhone’s battery. The patent details a “virtual charging area” about one meter wide that can be used to provide electricity to devices simply by stepping within a certain radius of a power source. The patent calls the idea a “realistic and practical approach to wireless transferring.”
While Nokia (NOK) is busy trying to convince everyone that wireless charging is the way of the future with its Lumia 820 and Lumia 920 smartphones, Apple (AAPL) has yet to make any revolutionary changes to battery charging. Perhaps the future is not as plain as Nokia thinks it will be, though. AppleInsider discovered a patent by Apple that reveals a concept for shaking an iPhone to charge it. According to the report, the patent involves the “use of printed coils with one or more moveable magnets, a reversal of the traditional configuration in which the heavy copper coil moves across a stationary magnet. The magnets in Apple’s system move alongside a circuit board holding printed coils to create an ‘electromotive force,’ or voltage, across said coils which can be used to generate power.” Does that mean iPhone owners will be able to do a quick workout and juice up their iPhones in one go? It’s not likely to happen, but if it did, it would change everything, as searching for an outlet would be thing of the past. More →
It’s tough to know exactly what Microsoft (MSFT) has in store for its next-generation Xbox (codenamed “Durango“), but that hasn’t stopped PatentlyApple from unearthing technologies that the Redmond-based company is dreaming up. Microsoft’s patent filed in the first quarter of 2011 and made public recently by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office outlines the use of an “Environmental Display” aka “wide-angle RGB projection display device configured to project a peripheral image in a 360-degree field around the environmental display.” Basically, the walls of a room can be cloaked with game graphics that act as an extension of an HDTV. When combined with Kinect for depth-tracking, players can be immersed into a virtual reality-like experience without the need for cumbersome headgear. As with most patents, Microsoft’s doodles are just ideas and there’s no telling if such a concept is in the Xbox’s near future or not, but one can dream.
Documentation regarding a recently published patent from Microsoft highlights a new invention for a dual display smartphone that can separate into two functional units, Patent Bolt reported on Friday. The software giant’s patent could take the hassle out of sharing a screen — literally — with another person. Rather than being crammed in front of one screen, the smartphone’s display could be split in two, allowing each viewer to watch his or her own display. The technology could also be used in a situation where a user needs to talk on a smartphone and browse data simultaneously without the need for a headset or a loudspeaker. The two displays would be held together with magnetic strips that are aligned edge-to-edge on the side of the display, according to Microsoft’s patent. The company filed for the patent in February of this year, however it has been in possession of the technology since 2009. More →
Documentation surrounding a recent Apple patent published by the United States Trademark and Patent Office reveals that the iPhone-maker is working on a new intelligent multi-tiered haptics system. The Cupertino-based company states that traditional tactile feedback systems provide a user with the ability to interact with a device through touch or contact. Using the technology described in the patent documentation, Apple’s invention could allow a future iPhone’s display to deform into a button, an arrow, or even a geological map with 3D depth, according to PatentlyApple. The system would adopt a tiered haptic response approach, in which one or more arrays of shape-changing elements would provide tactile interaction through an elastic screen interface. More →
The United States Patent and Trademark office recently published details surrounding a patent from Samsung regarding a technology that strategically implants electrodes into the human brain called Implantable Medical Devices (IMDs). The South Korea-based company states that an IMD may be implanted into a human body and be used to help monitor primary organs such as the heart and brain itself, PatentBolt reported on Wednesday. The IMD may also be used to monitor a patient’s physiological and pathological state, though Samsung notes that it may be difficult to control or change operation of the IMD because of the complex procedure involved with implanting it into the body. The IMD would also be accompanied by an external user device that could be used to display information to a patient’s doctor or to medical personnel in the event of an emergency. More →
The United States Patent and Trademark Office recently published details on a Microsoft patent relating to a two-sided smart device display system for phones and tablets, PatentBolt reported on Friday. The invention features an integrated second low-power, possibly E Ink, display on the back side of a smartphone or tablet that would contain certain types of information. The secondary display could provide vendors with an opportunity to move standard items like a clock off of the main display to free up space, or it could display a variety of other information that might otherwise not be shown. The second display would use its own low-powered processor and may reduce the power load from a device’s primary display. The patent appears to be similar in intent to Samsung’s “smart-device-skins” invention — a technology that may allow users to change the appearance of a handset using chameleon-like technology — and it could be used to display images or animations on the back side of a device. More →
A recent patent application from Microsoft reveals that the software giant is looking to bring real-time hand-gestures to tablets, PatentBolt reported on Monday. The patent summary doesn’t provide an extensive overview of the invention — instead, the company states “its sole purpose is to present some concepts disclosed herein in a simplified form as a prelude to the more detailed description that is presented later.” Microsoft goes on to say that there is “a need to provide simple, accurate, fast and computationally inexpensive methods of object and hand pose recognition for many applications.” The application highlights Microsoft’s image processing system, which will be incorporated into the tablet to be used to classify images captured by the camera. The classification information can then be used by the tablet to control software and the user interface. More →
Apple patent documentation made public this week by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office indicates that the Cupertino-based company is exploring different ways to utilize the forward-facing camera on its devices. The patent, which was uncovered by AppleInsider, describes a system that could scan and detect a user’s face to unlock a device. If the user cannot be identified by the system, he or she would by asked to enter a security code, much like Google’s face unlock technology. Apple isn’t looking to use face detection to simply unlock a user’s device, however. After a user’s face is recognized, the software could be used to set pre-determined settings and launch various applications. “If the detected human face is recognized… an operation of the (device) can be modified based upon the recognized human face,” the patent application reads. “The modification can include executing a pre-defined set of operations such as opening email, opening text messages, and so forth.” More →
Google is attempting to file a patent that would thrust smartphone users into Orwell’s “1984.” TheNextWeb reported on Wednesday that the search giant is looking to patent a technology that can analyze the background noise during mobile phone calls and then serve up advertisements based on the environmental conditions Google hears. In short, the company’s famous “don’t be evil” motto may soon evolve into “we are going to listen to your phone calls to make money.” One example of Google’s proposed technology would recognize the background noise made by rain when a user makes a phone call in inclement weather, and then serve an advertisement for umbrellas. In addition, the system might also analyze background noise while users take photos and videos to serve up similar targeted ads. Of course there is no reason to sound the alarms just yet, as technologies described in patents often don’t see the light of day. More →
A recently-published Apple patent has revealed that the Cupertino-based company is contemplating new technology surrounding an advanced TV remote, that could work alongside its rumored “iTV”, PatentlyApple reported on Thursday. The patent suggests that Apple’s new universal remote could take a photo of a user’s current TV remote and send it to iCloud for analysis. iCloud would return a “virtual copy” of the remote along with data detailing all the remote’s features and functionality to a user’s iPhone, which will then be able to mimic the original remote’s functions. Apple’s rumored iOS-powered high-definition television, currently referred to as the iTV, will reportedly enter production in May or June ahead of a launch that may take place in the fourth quarter this year. More →
A new Microsoft patent published recently by the United States Patent and Trademark Office revealed that the company is working on two types of headsets for its Xbox and Windows Phone platforms, PatentBolt reported on Monday. The first unit resembles an aviation-type helmet and is aimed at Xbox gamers, while the second looks like a pair of sunglasses for use with smartphones and other future devices. The software giant states that a compact display system can be integrated into goggles, a helmet or other eyewear, enabling the wearer to view images from a computer, media player or other electronic device. Since the human eye can’t focus on images less than a few centimeters away, however, Microsoft’s headsets will have the ability to virtually project an image.
A German judge has suspended a patent infringement suit filed by Apple against Samsung covering the company’s slide-to-unlock patent, Reuters reported on Friday. The Mannheim court said that it will await a decision in a separate lawsuit covering the same patent in Munich before it makes its ruling. The lawsuit relates to the “slide-to-unlock utility model” and comes two weeks after the same court dismissed a suit covering similar technology. The Cupertino-based company recently filed a separate complaint against Motorola in Germany, also covering its slide-to-unlock patent. Since April, Samsung and Apple have filed more than 30 lawsuits against one another throughout various countries around the world.