Patent-watch

Apple, WiTricity, and wireless charging

With rumors of Apple exploring new ways to charge iPhones and iPads, MacRumors pulls together threads from a company called WiTricity, which is based wireless charging research from MIT, and puts it together with an Apple patent application that surfaced earlier this year.

Apple describes a scenario where your iMac could be the source of this resonance power to provide a virtual charging area in front of your computer. Keyboards, mice and even mobile electronic devices like the iPhone or iPad could be charged simply be being in a 1 meter proximity to your computer. In typical Apple fashion, they describe that "by doing away with clumsy and annoying cables and eliminating the need to replace batteries, an easy to use and efficient local computing environment can be provided to the user."

So unlike <a href="http://www.precentral.net/"tags/touchstone">HP/Palm's TouchStone, it wouldn't require direct contact, just proximity. Whether or not Apple is or will work with WiTricity, or does anything with wireless charging any time soon, it's interesting to see what's being explored in the labs.

I've used inductive charging with the Pre Plus and with PowerMat, and while it feels like the future, it feels like a very close future. Like a novelty and not that far removed from the tether (trading the socket for a surface). True wireless charging, the ability to put your iPhone or iPad down pretty much where you want, and pick it up again fully charged? Way closer to Star Trek.

TED video after the break.

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Apple patent gives a glimpse of iTunes Cloud?

Patently Apple has shone a light on a recent Apple patent that shows how cloud based music and media locker could be integrated into iTunes in robust, dare I say seamless manner.

Apple's patent and invention is directed to locally storing portions of a media item that is streamed to an electronic device. In particular, Apple's invention is directed to locally storing an initial portion of a media item from a user's library, and requesting a stream of the remaining portion of the media item upon starting local playback of the initial portion.

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Apple working on new multitouch gestures for iOS 5, illuminated smart bezel for iPhone 5??

PatentlyApple has uncovered some interesting patent applications from Apple involving new multitouch gestures and smart bezels aimed at making interaction more simple and gestures more memorable.

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Apple designs future iPads and more with a built-in kickstand? [Patent Watch]

Patently Apple got their hands on an Apple patent application that shows future iPads may just be designed with a built-in kickstand. iPads, and perhaps Cinema Displays, would have the ability to pivot to allow for use in landscape and portrait mode. Apple states that products with displays need a mechanism to support the object in multiple configurations. The patent also mentions the possible addition of a kickstand to other Apple products such as the iPhone.

Would you like to see a kickstand on a future version of the iPad or even maybe the iPhone someday?

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iPad to gain facial recognition camera and new speaker array? [Patent Watch]

The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office published a patent submitted by Apple today that indicates the use of a facial recognition camera as well as a new speaker array for use with the iPad. The patent shows off three and four speaker arrays to help give off better audio at increased ranges. Also indicated in this patent is a camera that will include facial and location orientation. This will allow the camera to reorient itself depending on if you are chatting with it in landscape or portrait mode. Stay with us to find out what else Apple has patents on.

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Latest Apple patent hints towards a social network for the retail world

The latest patent filed by Apple shows a possible Ping-like social networking tool for the retail world. It would allow for iPhone owners to share comments, opinions and recommendations for different products from different stores for their friends to view. Like any patent there's no telling when, if ever, this particular one will find its way into a real, shipping product, but it does hive us a glimpse at what Apple is working on.

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Future iPads to use light, flexible "knitted" material? [Patent watch]

Another interesting Apple patent has made its way out of Cupertino, this one explaining a process in which Apple would use new "knitting technology" to create a flexible material for use in iPads and other products. The material could be made from not only metal fibers but glass fibers or other types of materials as well.

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Apple working on a more social way to buy and share apps [Patent watch]

Based on a recent patent filing, it looks as if Apple may be looking at even more ways to buy and share apps. This approach would be a bit more social as it would allow your friends to share applications with you that they think you may enjoy. This could work through the network, through a cloud service, or through IR.

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Radial menus, location-based radio, 3D displays - iPhone and iPad patent round up

Some of Apple's more interesting recent patent applications and grants for iPad and iPhone include spiraling, radial menus, an actual radio app, 3D displays without the need for annoying glasses. As always, just because Apple patents something doesn't mean we'll ever see it in production hardware or software, so just take these for what they're worth -- glimpses into Apple's thinking about the future.

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Future iPhone to allow capacitive touch with gloves on?

Hitachi Displays out of Japan have been working on a new type of capacitive display technology that Apple could use in the next-generation iPhone 5 coming in 2011 that allows for interacting with the screen without direct skin contact, such as when using the device with gloves. From Patently Apple:

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