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.
The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office recently published details surrounding a Samsung patent describing a new technology that will allow users to take an image and electronically wrap it around their devices, PatentBolt reported on Friday. The invention uses a “smart device-skin” or “film layer” that is integrated into the device. At any given time, a user will be able to change the appearance of a handset using the proposed chameleon-like technology. The South Korea-based vendor believes this new smart device-skin technology could become the next big thing and is even considering a retail version to be sold as an accessory for older Samsung smartphones. More →
Late last month, Samsung confirmed that it will start mass production of flexible displays this year. The first set of screens will come off the line in the second or third quarter of 2012, with the second batch will be built in the second quarter of 2013. The South Korean manufacturer has dabbled with contoured displays in the past, however a flexible display could allow a device to be fully folded and unfolded like a book. According to Samsung, the displays are capable of decreasing power consumption by cutting the supply of operating power to a display based on the degree to which it is bent, PatentBolt reported on Monday. In a recent patent filing, the company states that flexible displays are bendable, can be made to appear crooked, and can be folded and rolled up like a magazine, all while maintaining the visibility and other features common among flat displays. More →
Apple on Tuesday was granted a significant patent by the United States Trademark & Patent Office, Patently Apple reported. The technology, which is supported by 23 Patent Claims, allows credit card companies to send statements directly to a user’s iTunes account for purchases made using an NFC-enabled iPhone. Account holders will also be able to allow a secondary account holder, such as a child, to make purchases on the same card while allowing the primary account holder to control spending and implement various limits. Even though NFC technology has been featured in a number of Android devices, some believe that the technology won’t go mainstream in a number of markets until an iPhone is equipped with a mobile payment solution. More →
A U.S. judge has ordered Google and Motorola Mobility to turn over information about the development of the Android operating system and Google’s pending $12.5 billion acquisition of the manufacturer to Apple, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday. Motorola opposed Apple’s request, arguing that Google isn’t a party to the lawsuit. “Google’s employees and documents are not within the ‘possession, custody, or control’ of Motorola, and Motorola cannot force Google to produce documents or witnesses over Google’s objections,” the vendor’s lawyers said in a court filing on Monday. Apple’s attorneys argued that “the Android/Motorola acquisition discovery is highly relevant to Apple’s claims and defenses.” Judge Richard A. Posner has scheduled back-to-back trials before two separate juries starting June 11th. The first trial will address six Apple patents while the second will cover three Motorola patents. More →
Google may be in the process of bringing its mobile operating system to desktop and notebook computers, according to a recent patent filing. The patent, which was discovered by Patently Apple, showcases desktop control features similar to Apple’s multitouch MacBook trackpad and Magic Trackpad. The current Android operating system has been designed for touch commands and actions, however in the future it may be expanded to support different means of control, Google said in the patent overview. Using a multitouch trackpad, a user can “directly interact with graphical elements located at the current pointer location as if they are using a touchscreen device, and perform traditional touchscreen operations (e.g., dragging/flinging content, scrolling).” Following Google’s acquisition of Motorola Mobility, it is believed that the Mountain View-based company will now explore a variety of new hardware products. More →
A patent filed by Google showcases a new technology that could enable users to control Google TV-equipped devices using their voices, reports Patently Apple. Using a specific smartphone app, users could be able to speak commands or queries that are then acted upon by a television, a set-top box, a DVD player or another device equipped with Google TV, according to the patent filing. The patent documentation also mentions an interesting feature where “the provision of the query to the television may occur when the user is within a set distance of his home also (e.g., by determining with GPS functionality on the smartphone that he is within 1/4 mile of the home), and the television may be turned on automatically as he approaches the home, with the television tuned to a channel that is determined to be most relevant to the query.” Google’s technology can also be applied to music, allowing users to remotely set up a playlist to be streamed on a TV or other device. Whether or not we can expect Google TV products to launch with the functionality described in this patent is unknown. More →
The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple on Thursday that reveals a 3D eye-tracking-based interface that could be used for gaming, digital photography and videography in future iOS and iMac devices, reports PatentlyApple. The new features could work in conjunction with Apple’s current 3D head tracking and ambient light technologies. The solution would utilize a variety of sensors such as an accelerometer and compass in combination with eye-tracking technology to alter the perspective of 3D graphics displayed on an iPhone. The result would be a 3D experience that constantly adjusts to the user’s position and a device’s position, creating a unique experience far more advanced and precise than current solutions. The patent application was originally filed in the third quarter of 2010 and it is unclear if Apple is currently experimenting with the technology.
Apple certainly helped shape the mobile space by popularizing multitouch screens on smartphones and tablets, but can it do the same for desktop computing, too? The United States Patent and Trademark Office on Thursday published an Apple patent application that describes a desktop computer — likely the iMac — with a touchscreen display. Dell, HP and plenty of other firms have introduced all-in-one PCs with touchscreens, of course, but Apple’s invention may make some applications more intuitive. Read on for more. More →
Apple recently filed to appeal a December 19th ITC ruling that found HTC was infringing on just one of Apple’s patents. Patent expert Florian Muller of FOSS Patents said that Apple filed for the appeal on December 29th, and that it is likely Apple wants a more favorable ruling on the original case that includes a judgement on whether or not HTC is infringing on a real-time API patent. “It’s clear that Apple’s appeal of the ITC ruling at least aims to broaden the scope of the import ban by including the ‘263 patent,” Muller explained. “If Apple succeeded, this would greatly increase the business impact of the import ban.” The original ban, which involved patents related to “data tapping,” is set to go into effect on April 19th, but HTC said it already has workaround ready to be deployed that will allow the company to circumvent the ban. “Whatever the scope of Apple’s appeal against the ITC may be, I believe Apple has realistic chances of winning a better outcome,” Muller argued. More →