The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of granted patents for Samsung yesterday and today's report covers three of them. In a Patently Apple report published yesterday, I reviewed the long standing rumors that Huawei was going all out to beat Samsung to market with a foldable smartphone. The latest rumor came from the Nikkei Asian Review and it's clear that the foldable smartphone war will begin later this year. Today's report covers just one of many Samsung patents on bendable smartphones. The newly granted patent covers the mechanics of one of their flexible / bendable display inventions. Another patent that we cover today relates to new fingerprint technology based on "echo signals." And lastly, our report covers a design patent that illustrates a unique feature for a possible future laptop.
#1 Granted Patent: Method and Apparatus for Sensing Fingerprints
Samsung's newly granted patent covers their invention relating to electronic devices, in general, and more particularly to a method and apparatus for sensing fingerprints. There are all kinds of fingerprinting methods like embedding scanners in a home button, under a display, on a backside, or using other surfaces.
There are also varying technologies of how the fingerprint is obtained and verified. To beat out fake fingerprints, Samsung's patent discusses the use of "echo signals."
Although not shown in either patent FIG. 4A or FIG. 4B above, a fingerprint sensor may be disposed in various manners to the front surface #100a, side surface #400b, or rear surface #400c of the electronic device 400. For example, if the fingerprint sensor is disposed to the front surface #400a, the fingerprint sensor may be disposed to some areas of the touch screen #490.
Alternatively, the fingerprint sensor may be implemented in a button (e.g., the home button 461a, the menu button 461b, or the back button 461c) located in the front surface. For another example, if the fingerprint sensor is located to the rear surface 400c, the fingerprint sensor may be disposed to some areas of the rear surface 400c. For another example, if the fingerprint sensor is located to the side surface 400c, the fingerprint sensor may be disposed to some areas of the side surface 400b. Alternatively, the fingerprint sensor may be implemented in a button (e.g., the power/reset button 460a) located in the side surface.
Samsung's patent FIG. 5 is a block diagram of an example of an electronic device; FIG. 8 is a diagram of an example of echo waveforms E1-E4 that are associated with a first point of a fingerprint; and FIG. 16 is a flowchart of an example of a process.
To learn more about Samsung's granted patent 10,031,218 and echo signal based fingerprint technology, click here. Samsung's patent was originally filed in Q1 2016 and published yesterday by the US Patent and Trademark Office.
#2 Granted Patent: Flexible Display Device
Samsung's newly granted patent covers their invention relating to a flexible display device in which a failure rate is reduced. FIG. 1 is a schematic perspective view of a flexible display device in a bent state.
Samsung keeps the "device" secretive by describing it only as a "computer device. Also, a person of skill in the art should recognize that the functionality of various computing devices may be combined or integrated into a single computing device." That usually translates to smartphone or tablet.
Samsung notes that the first flexible member 100A noted above includes the display panel and the touchscreen panel. The window #300 may include a structure in which a flexible polymer layer is disposed on a surface of a glass substrate.
Samsung has many foldable smartphone ideas that you could review in our archives here. The range from a simple straightforward fold to full dual display styles to wraparound displays through to scrollable devices – all using flexible displays.
Samsung's patent granted yesterday focuses on the mechanics of the bendable display rather than the marketable or consumer side of the equation.
Samsung's granted patent 10,029,446 was originally filed in Q2 2016 and published yesterday by the US Patent and Trademark Office. For those wanting to dig deeper, check out the full patent here.
#3 Granted Design Patent: Laptop with a Strange Trackpad-like Feature
Samsung was granted a laptop design patent yesterday that illustrates a very strange feature in the trackpad area as noted in the overview patent figure 1 and highlight figure 8.
Unfortunately design patents never reveal details. Beyond the patent figures of the design you get simplistic notes about the figures such as: "FIG. 1 is a top right front perspective view of a laptop computer, showing our new design. FIG. 8 is an enlarged view of the claimed portion thereof shown in FIG. 1."
Is that any clearer? I didn't think so. Samsung definitely has our attention with this design but unless they bring it to market, we're never going to know what their engineers were aiming for here. It's really a shame because is looks like some kind of pop-up. Perhaps it's a trackpad that could pop-up and be angled differently as a second display. Perhaps it's Samsung's answer to Apple's MacBook Pro Touch Bar feature. Of course it's just a guess.
If you have an idea as to what it could be, send it in via our comment section below.
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