In yesterday's Toshiba patent report we covered their intention of updating their notebook line-up with built-in cellular connectivity and stylus holder in the not-too-distant future. In today's report, we cover Toshiba's intention of jumping into the tablet craze full tilt. A few of Toshiba's latest patents reveal that they have a new tablet and communication system on the drawing table that involves a dual docking station that will charge both a wireless phone and tablet at the same time while syncing apps, calendars and messages.
Toshiba's Future Tablet
In an exclusive interview with CRN on Monday, Steve Ballmer stated that "We are trying to make absolutely clear we are not going to leave any space uncovered to Apple." Steve Ballmer addressed some 16,000 partners at the company's annual Worldwide Partner Conference in Toronto. Yet behind the scenes via patents, we're able to see that their core partners have already been hard at work designing new hardware that will be able to take advantage of Microsoft's upcoming Windows 8 operating system that will power the desktop, tablets and smartphones. In just the last few weeks alone we've seen Lenovo, Samsung and now Toshiba aiming for new and improved products that will take advantage of multitouch and pen input.
Some of Toshiba's latest patents reveal both a tablet and a communications system for the home and/or small office markets that come in the form of an advanced dual docking station that will hold both a wireless phone and tablet. Our report below presents you with a basic overview of both.
So is there anything new under the sun with Toshiba's tablet? Well, there are a few minor technical things, though Toshiba is quiet about what functionality is behind some of the tablet's buttons that are clearly indicated on the patent figures. That's a "marketing thing" and a patent doesn't have to provide details on things like that. So we're a little in the dark at the moment on that front.
Yet the most glaring difference with the Toshiba tablet appears to be their connector options that will include Mini USB, HDMI, USB and audio connectors. Additionally it will offer an SD Card slot and a mysterious "vibration" module which could be for gaming. The docking station patents also state that the application programs included with the tablet/phone will include a program for executing functions of a telephone, FAX, e-mail and TV phone.
Toshiba's Next Generation Communication System
In addition to or in support of their next generation tablet, Toshiba presents us with a next generation communication system that could be used at home or in a small business. Shown below in patent FIG. 1 is a general overview of this system comprising of a touchpad terminal 10, a handset 12 and a cradle 14.
The Touchpad & Handset Communication Terminal
Toshiba's tablet which they're calling a "touchpad terminal" has functions equivalent to those of a personal computer. The touchpad terminal isn't only capable of operating in a stand-alone mode, but is also connectable to some other device via the cradle.
In addition, the touchpad terminal can be used as a communication terminal which is equipped with a telephone function. The touchpad terminal is provided with a speaker and a microphone for making a speech call. A plurality of kinds of communication modules are implemented in the touchpad terminal and the touchpad terminal can wirelessly communicate with the cradle by the respective communication modules.
To be exact, the touchpad terminal includes a wireless LAN module for wireless LAN (Local Area Network), and a digital cordless telephone module for executing wireless communication according to digital cordless telephone standards. The wireless LAN module is, for instance, a module which makes use of Wi-Fi. The digital cordless telephone module is, for instance, a module which supports DECT (Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications) standards. The digital cordless telephone module according to the DECT standards uses a frequency band of 1.9 GHz and executes wireless communication by a communication system of TDD-TDMA (autonomous distributed multi-channel access wireless communication).
The touchpad terminal is connected to the handset via the cradle. In addition, the touchpad terminal is connected via the cradle to a data communication network including the Internet, or a public switched telephone network (PSTN). The touchpad terminal will work with touch, pen or standard peripherals such as a keyboard and mouse when in the cradle.
The handset communications terminal carries the same wireless communication modules as noted above. In addition, the handset is connected to the touchpad terminal via the cradle and has a function of synchronizing data of an address book or other applications with the touchpad terminal as noted in patent FIG. 13 presented below.
In Toshiba's standalone tablet patent, they make it clear that the tablet will accommodate Skype type of video calling that will enhance this communication system.
The Communications Cradle
According to Toshiba, the communication cradle is used as a base on which the touchpad terminal and handset are disposed and functions as an access point of the touchpad terminal and handset. As shown in patent FIG. 6 above, the handset and cradle are connected by wireless communication (R1) according to digital cordless telephone standards. The touchpad terminal 10 and cradle 14 are connected by wireless communication (R2) according to digital cordless telephone standards and by wireless communication (R3) by wireless LAN.
The LAN cable 15 and telephone cable 16, which are connected to the cradle are connected to a broadband router 17. A cable 18 (e.g. optical cable) for connection to a data communication network (including the Internet) and a telephone cable 19 for connection to a public switched telephone network (PSTN) are connected to the broadband router. Accordingly, the cradle is connected to the external network (data communication network, public switched telephone network) via the broadband router.
At the End of the Day
At the end of the day, we know that Microsoft wants to go to war with Apple and the starting point is going to be when the Windows 8 operating system lands in the marketplace. We've seen a great number of Microsoft patents of late that illustrate some really great technology coming to tablets in the not-too-distant future. And it's not vaporware considering that Microsoft will launch their own line-up of Surface tablets over the next 6-9 months. But let's not kid ourselves, Microsoft's eco system is going to pound out new hardware to excite the market this Christmas and Toshiba is definitely wanting to get in on the action. Whether these new Toshiba products come to market in 2012 or 2013 is unknown at this time, but buckle up your seat belts because I think the Microsoft-Apple war is about to get interesting once again.
Both of Toshiba's patent applications were originally filed in Q4 2011and published by the US Patent and Trademark Office in Q2 2012.
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