Story Tools: PRINT | Text Size: S M L XL | REPORT TYPO | SEND YOUR FEEDBACK

Patent applications offer hint of what Apple has in store

By Peter Evans, CBCNews.ca

The Twitterverse is all, er, a-twitter, at the possibilities suggested by a slew of patent applications that Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple Inc. has filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

An intriguing proposal for an RFID-capable iPhone has people excited by the potential impact on wireless communication, as well as raising some troubling security questions.

Radio-frequency identification tags are microscopic chips that emit radio waves that can be read to identify and monitor anything they're attached to. They're already used extensively in places like retail stores and libraries to track inventory and discourage shoplifting, but in recent years, as the capability to miniaturize them has expanded, their use has expanded to things like credit cards and passports. Toll Highway 407 outside Toronto uses RFID technology to identify and charge customers using the highway without need for cumbersome toll booths.

There's even been baby steps made toward RFID-implantation into humans, which has been met with a predictable outcry over just how much Big Brother would be able to know about you the day we're all walking around with microchips embedded under our skin.

That Apple is aware of RFID's potential is nothing new, but as Apple's pitch for an RFID-transponder embedded into next-generation iPhones suggests, the move towards mobile devices becoming more of an extension of our lives, as opposed to mere implements of technology, is well underway.

The right touch

On the other side of the security spectrum, a fingerprint-sensitive iPhone application hints that Apple sees potential in devices that can be uniquely tailored to work for individual users. A touchscreen that could distinguish fingerprints could theoretically be used to "lock" the device for use only by specific people, to use the most obvious example.

But perhaps even more interestingly, the application opens the door to the possibility that in a certain mode, the device could be trained to identify the prints of individual fingers to perform certain tasks. Want a little more volume during that boring subway commute? Tap the screen with your right index finger -- no need to fiddle with the knob. You don't even have to look at it. Too loud now? Just touch it with your ring finger. The possibilities are endless.

Lastly, it's been argued that part of what made the iPod and iPhone such a roaring success were their minimalist, smooth, svelte and sexy design. But future versions might have a slightly different look. Or feel, to be precise.

Haptic technology, in a nutshell, is the science of touch. Or more specifically, scientists' attempts to create realistic copies of what things feel like to sensitive human skin.

It's always been comparatively easy for technology to produce realistic visual and audio cues. But creating a believable sense of touch is a bit trickier. Haptic technology is the study of how to create things that "feel" right. It's very much in its infancy, but it's already made baby steps into the world of cellphones.

In 2008, Samsung unveiled their SCH-W420 model. Dubbed the "AnyCall Haptic" the phone boasts the ability to use vibrations and other tactile stimuli to give you feedback on what you're doing. When Aunt Mabel calls, the phone rings with one particular vibration -- very handy for call screening. You sure you want to turn down the volume a little? The AnyCall will give you a specific vibration and clicking sound to confirm.

Apple appears to be getting in on the act with something similar, if this patent application ever lives to see the light of day.

Feel the feedback

It's something that's been on Mac's radar for a while, but if it comes to pass, the popular iPhone touchscreen would get a makeover, complemented by a grid of piezoelectronic actuators. That's a $10-word for touch-sensitive, and the grid would "provide vibrational feedback to a user, while the user scrolls around a click wheel, slides across a trackpad, or touches a multi-touch display screen," as Apple puts it.

So the pad would feel different as your finger moves across it. You could have some sort of virtual click wheel which vibrates at a different frequency as you move across it, letting you sense the difference and use the click wheel without having to look at it, for example.

The idea, it seems, is not that this new iPhone could do anything more than it can do now -- but rather that you wouldn't have to interact with it visually or aurally. The element of touch just gets added to the equation.

As to why a web-enabled cellphone you can apparently use without the use of those pesky eyes and ears is a good thing, we'll leave that up to you.

« Previous Post | Main | Next Post »

This discussion is now Open. Submit your Comment.

Comments

Erich N B Davies

Nothin in this patent has not been in the lab for over 10 yrs, how do they make claim to patenting near public domain idea's about HCI interfacing.!?

Posted July 2, 2009 05:51 PM

James W

Toronto

^^ Funny meeting you here Erich... Completely by chance I might add... no searching involved...

I can't wait until those RFID chips are used in combination with Behavioral Advertising to better understand when to target mass crowds on large screen satellite feed billboards with corporate messages and their own personal agendas... whatever those agendas might be ten years down the road who knows?

Posted July 4, 2009 06:27 PM

Stef

Ottawa

To Erich:

Apple is not trying to patent haptic technology itself... it does want to patent how haptic technology is implemented in their own devices (ie: hardware/software). That's just a smart & responsible business practice.

It helps keep the obvious copycats at bay, for a while at least.

Posted July 4, 2009 11:04 PM

GIV

toronto

Interesting post. These new doo-dads sound great and all, but we're still a long way off from me being able to get an iPhone without having to deal with Rogers!

Posted July 7, 2009 09:33 AM

« Previous Post | Main | Next Post »

Post a Comment

Disclaimer:

Note: By submitting your comments you acknowledge that CBC has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Please note that due to the volume of e-mails we receive, not all comments will be published, and those that are published will not be edited. But all will be carefully read, considered and appreciated.

Note: Due to volume there will be a delay before your comment is processed. Your comment will go through even if you leave this page immediately afterwards.

Privacy Policy | Submissions Policy

Story Tools: PRINT | Text Size: S M L XL | REPORT TYPO | SEND YOUR FEEDBACK

World »

Analysis 'Confrontational, angry' inaugural address leaves no doubt about which side Trump's on video
It was classic Donald Trump — a hard-hitting campaign-style inauguration speech by the new president of the United States that used "America first" populist rhetoric, attacked Washington insiders and decried the state of the country.
U.S. President Donald Trump takes charge, vows to end 'American carnage' video
Pledging emphatically to empower America's "forgotten men and women," Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States Friday, taking command of a riven nation facing an unpredictable era under his assertive but untested leadership.
Anti-Trump protesters clash with riot police in Washington video
Protesters and an Associated Press photographer say police fired rubber projectiles at them during demonstrations against U.S. President Donald Trump in downtown Washington.
more »

Canada »

Bloody footprints 'correspond' with shoes missing from Douglas Garland's home, triple-murder trial hears
Bloody footprints found at the house where a Calgary boy and his grandparents were last seen matched the shape and size of a pair of shoes missing from Douglas Garland's home, jurors at his first-degree murder trial heard Friday.
Trudeau holds call with premiers to reassure them over Canada-U.S. relationship
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke with his provincial and territorial counterparts today in an effort to reassure them about Canada's economic and security relationship with the United States.
Inflation heats up to 1.5% in December as higher gas prices offset cheaper food
The cost of living in Canada increased by 1.5 per cent last month, as slightly more expensive gasoline prices helped offset slightly cheaper food prices.
more »

Politics »

Analysis 'Confrontational, angry' inaugural address leaves no doubt about which side Trump's on video
It was classic Donald Trump — a hard-hitting campaign-style inauguration speech by the new president of the United States that used "America first" populist rhetoric, attacked Washington insiders and decried the state of the country.
Trudeau holds call with premiers to reassure them over Canada-U.S. relationship
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke with his provincial and territorial counterparts today in an effort to reassure them about Canada's economic and security relationship with the United States.
Trudeau congratulates Trump, citing close economic and security ties video
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is congratulating Donald Trump on becoming the 45th U.S. president — and reminding him of Canada's historically close ties with its southern superpower neighbour.
more »

Health »

Sorry - we can't find that page
 
CBC.ca

Sorry, we can't find the page you requested.

  1. Please check the URL in the address bar, or ...
  2. Use the navigation links at left to explore our site, or ...
  3. Enter a term in the Quick Search box at top, or ...
  4. Visit our site map page

In a few moments, you will be taken to our site map page, which will help you find what you looking for.

more »

Arts & Entertainment»

Jackie Evancho, Mormon Tabernacle Choir perform at inauguration, but A-listers gather at unofficial events
Teen singer Jackie Evancho delivered a soft-voiced rendition of the U.S. national anthem at Donald Trump's swearing-in ceremony on Friday, but the inauguration performances have exposed the obvious divisions in the country following Trump's election, with star-power turning up for unofficial, alternate programming, from the Peace Ball to protests in New York to the Women's March on Washington.
A Dog's Purpose Hollywood premiere, Canadian preview screenings cancelled
The Hollywood premiere of A Dog's Purpose has been cancelled amid growing concern and calls to boycott the shot-in-Canada film, following the release of a video — purportedly from the movie set — showing a distressed German shepherd being forced into turbulent water.
CBC BOOKS Mark Twain fairy tale The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine coming this fall
More than a century after Mark Twain's death, a fairy tale based on notes he wrote in 1879 is being published this fall.
more »

Technology & Science »

Less than hour after inauguration, Trump publishes energy policy to revive coal industry
The Trump administration posted a document on the White House website outlining its energy policy, which aims to focus on gas and oil, and reviving the coal industry.
Blog Science 'Trumped' by belief: Bob McDonald
Donald Trump has stated clearly that he believes climate change is a hoax and that vaccines cause autism, two topics that have been clearly proven by science to be untrue. Now, he has a team of players that are carrying these beliefs to other levels of government.
Trump makes cyberwarfare an official priority for new White House
The new administration announced an official position on cyberwarfare Friday, pledging to make the development of "defensive and offensive cyber capabilities" a priority in the fight against terror and the protection of American secrets.
more »

Money »

E-book publishers and Apple reach new deal with Competition Bureau over pricing
Three major book publishers have signed an agreement with Canadian competition authorities that will permit retailers to sell those publishers' e-books at a discount — something they couldn't do before.
Trudeau holds call with premiers to reassure them over Canada-U.S. relationship
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke with his provincial and territorial counterparts today in an effort to reassure them about Canada's economic and security relationship with the United States.
Trump's 'America first' tone worries head of Canadian oil and gas industry group
The president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers says the protectionist sentiments expressed in U.S. President Donald Trump's inauguration speech are a "wakeup call" for Canada.
more »

Consumer Life »

Sorry - we can't find that page
 
CBC.ca

Sorry, we can't find the page you requested.

  1. Please check the URL in the address bar, or ...
  2. Use the navigation links at left to explore our site, or ...
  3. Enter a term in the Quick Search box at top, or ...
  4. Visit our site map page

In a few moments, you will be taken to our site map page, which will help you find what you looking for.

more »

Sports »

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Live World Cup alpine skiing: Women's downhill video
Watch as the world's best women's skiers compete in the slalom event at Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany
Live World Cup bobsleigh from St. Moritz video
The bobsleigh and skeleton World Cup seasons continue this weekend in historic St. Moritz, Switzerland, and you can watch all the action with CBC Sports beginning with men's and women's skeleton on Friday.
Live Snowboarding World Cup: Halfpipe from Laax video
Watch live as World Cup snowboarders go for gold in the halfpipe competitions from Laax, Switzerland.
more »

Diversions »

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
more »