Welcome to Patently Mobile, a dedicated Intellectual Property news site that specializes in dissecting patent applications from leading industry players such as Microsoft, Google, Samsung and others. If you love to explore future inventions, you'll love our site.
Last week the US Patent & Trademark Office published Google's patent application relating to their indoor mapping invention. Our report provides you with a quick overview of their mapping invention along with a link to the patent so those that are technical minded could explore it further.
Apple was one of the first tech companies to design and sell a computer mouse with a housing that accepted gestures like pinch and zoom and scrolling without a scroll wheel. Since that time, their R&D team has filed for another patent relating to a keyboard that could understand in-air gestures. That particular idea apparently caught Microsoft's eye. Last week the US Patent Office published Microsoft's patent application for a gesture assisted keyboard. Their patent-pending invention reveals that Microsoft may use high-end technology to achieve in-air gestures over a keyboard or simplify some functionality by combining specific keyboard keys assigned to different gestures and quick hand gestures. In our cover graphic example, the user has pressed a specific keyboard key and by moving their finger over this key up or down, they're able to control webpage scrolling without the use of a notebook touchpad.
In December Wired Magazine believed that wearables would be the computing trend to watch for in 2014 and believed it could be as big a market as smartphones. In fact it was the number one trend to emerge at this year's Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Since that time, Samsung has raced ahead in wearables with their Gear 2 smartwatch and Gear Fit fitness band and Google has kick-started their Google Wear platform. Even Apple let it be known that there's a "Healthbook" App on the way which could strongly suggests that there could be a wearable device on their roadmap in the not too distant future. Today, The US Patent and Trademark Office granted Samsung a new design patent for Samsung Glass while granting Microsoft a design patent for an "Electronic Band." Yes, things are starting to get interesting.
One of Google's Moonshot projects is called Project Loon. It began with Google acquiring a company by the name of Space Data Corp who was working on a project to send balloons about 20 miles into the air in an effort to give truckers better connectivity to the net. It never got off the ground, but Google was determined to repurpose the project into bringing the internet to the two-thirds of the world that can't afford it and into areas where natural disasters have knocked out the net. The project officially launched as Project Loon in June 2013. Google's first patent application related to this project surfaced five months later which gave us a broad overview of the project. Earlier this month, Charlie Rose interviewed Google's CEO Larry Page at TED. One of the key segments of this interview touched on Page's love for Project Loon. Our report points you to new patents connected to Project Loon, presents two new photos of the project as well as the video interview with Page at TED.
Yesterday, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Google that reveals a new multi-sensor contact lens computer system that may work with many future devices including Google Glass and/or other future wearable devices, an Android smartphone, a television, a gaming system, navigation and/or car stereo and beyond. If you're a die-hard Google fan, then this is a must read; because if you blink, you just might miss something great.
Earlier this month, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Google regarding a graphical user interface for portables and wearables in particular. Google's patent application states that "A portable computer terminal, such as a wristwatch having a processor and memory, may be operatively coupled to a computing device, such as a smart phone, tablet, etc., using wireless communication via Bluetooth or NFC." The device is obviously touch based to control the UI. The inventors are all noted as coming from Zurich, Switzerland, home of the greatest watch brands in the world. Whether Google acquired the patent from these inventors or hired experts from Zurich to design a watch for them is unknown at this time.
According to the US Patent Office, Microsoft has invented a physically-modulated friction stylus system and method for physically modulating friction between a styli tip and a surface of a computing device to emulate the "feel" of different types of writing instruments writing on different types of surfaces (such as pen on paper or a paintbrush on canvas). The actual friction between the stylus and the surface is modulated to produce the "feel." The friction is physically modulated "on the fly" meaning that friction can be modulated while the stylus tip is in contact with the surface and while the stylus is moving. The friction is modulated dependent on a location of the stylus on the surface and the posture and orientation of the stylus. In addition, the friction can be modulated based on a direction and a velocity that the stylus tip is moving across the surface. Audio may also be used to improve the emulation experience.
Do you remember the embarrassing video showing how the new facial recognition unlocking screen process for Android's Ice Cream Sandwich miserably failed by simply using a still photo of the owner of the device? Ouch. Who trusted it after that? Well, Google went back to the drawing board on this problem and have come up with several new updates to this project regarding user authentication. The first proposed solution revealed a new fingerprint and facial scan combination process that we covered back in December. The second one was published just yesterday by the US Patent Office which covers a method that includes taking a second photo of the individual using infra-red so as to confirm that the entity before the device is in fact alive. Okay, that should do the trick … hopefully.