Feb 142013


By Steve Vrachmann, IPWatchdog.com 2/12/2013


More than 30 patent applications assigned to California’s Apple Inc. were published by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office on Thursday. Many of the patent applications published this week describe upgrades to handheld devices manufactured by the electronics firm. A new hearing aid detection system may make iPhone use much easier for the hearing impaired. New security measures for handheld devices, including image-based user authentication, are also outlined.


Hearing Aid Detection

U.S. Patent Application No. 20130034234


Innovations to mobile phone technologies have already made it easier for hearing aid wearers to tune out background noise using telecoil induction amplification. Before hearing aid compatible (HAC) phones and T-coil hearing aids were available, microphone hearing aids would often amplify background noise as well as the telephone speaker. However, hearing aid wearers must manually engage the T-coil mode of phone operation whenever they need to place a call.


Apple’s invention consists of a proximity sensor that can detect when a T-coil hearing aid is close to the phone speaker. This sensor triggers a data processor that automatically enables the T-coil playback mode on the phone speaker. When the sensor no longer detects the hearing aid, the speaker reverts to its typical playback state.


As claim 1 of this patent application states, Apple is seeking protection for:


“A portable audio device suitable for use by a user wearing a hearing aid, comprising: a proximity sensor to detect a measure of distance of the device to an external object; a magnetic field sensor to detect a measure of external magnetic field; data processing circuitry coupled to the proximity sensor and the magnetic field sensor to compute a change in the distance of the external object and a change in the external magnetic field, and select between a normal audio mode of operation and a hearing aid compatible mode of operation, based on the computed changes in distance and magnetic field; audio processing circuitry to process an audio signal according to the selected mode of operation; and a speaker coupled to receive the processed audio signal.”



Graphical User Interface for Tracking and Displaying Views of an Application

U.S. Patent Application No. 20130036380


One of the innovations laid out in an Apple patent application published this week aims to make document and presentation software more responsive to complex sets of data. Many of these programs already include graphics to render data in different visual representations, like pie charts or bar graphs. However, software users can only typically display one view per representation method.


The system described in this patent application creates an interface element that a user interacts with to pull up a menu of graph thumbnails. In this way, a user can render one set of data in multiple ways using the same representation method and easily pull it up during a presentation. This will improve data organization for those who need to produce electronic documents or presentations for business or scientific purposes.


Claim 1 of this patent application describes:


“A method comprising: generating a graphical user interface (GUI) for displaying a selected view of an application; and generating a user interface element of the GUI, the user interface element configured for displaying groups of one or more visual representations of views of the application, where the groups of views are in a compressed or expanded display format based on whether a member of the group corresponds to the selected view, where the method is performed by one or more hardware processors.”



Debugging a Memory Subsystem

U.S. Patent Application No. 20130036254


Apple is hoping that the system and methods of debugging in this patent application will help its computer systems better monitor the status of flash memory connecting to the system. Flash devices containing non-volatile memory that stores files can connect with a computer through any number of communication ports, often the USB port. This invention would help a computer debug a flash device and test its internal connectivity, among other functions.


This intellectual property application describes a joint test action group (JTAG) interface installed on the host device that is designed to let the computer process these functions on the flash device. The JTAG can also perform boundary scans to test communication between the device and the computer, and provides other status information.


Claim 1 of Apple’s patent application protects:


“A memory subsystem comprising: non-volatile memory; a memory controller that is communicatively connected to the non-volatile memory over a first bus; a host interface through which the memory controller communicates with a host controller over a second bus; and a joint test action group (JTAG) interface that provides the host controller with access to state information associated with the memory controller; wherein the memory subsystem is configured to be coupled to a board-level memory device that includes the host controller.”


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– Thanks to NVRC, Fairfax