Apple remote control system patent hints at next gen Apple TV
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Apple remote control system patent hints at next gen Apple TV

The patent seems to include a transmitter component that can site under a TV and "talk" with an Apple TV. It involves remote control systems that can distinguish predetermined light sources from stray light sources, e.g., environmental light sources and/or reflections are provided. The predetermined light sources can be disposed in asymmetric substantially linear or two-dimensional patterns. The predetermined light sources also can output waveforms modulated in accordance with one or more signature modulation characteristics. The predetermined light sources also can output light at different signature wavelengths. The inventors are Steven Porter Hotelling, Nicholas Vincent King, Duncan Robert Kerr and Wing Kong Low.

imageHere's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Some remote control systems use infrared (IR) emitters to determine the position and/or movement of a remote control. For example, if IR emitters are mounted proximate to a television, the remote control may be able to detect its own motion by measuring the motion of the IR emitters with respect to the remote control.

"Such systems, however, often experience a common problem in that they may not be able to distinguish desired or predetermined IR light sources from undesirable environmental IR sources, e.g., the sun or a light bulb. Because those systems may mistake environmental IR sources for IR emitters, they may incorrectly determine the position and/or movement of the remote control.

"Such systems also may experience another common problem in that the systems may not be able to distinguish IR emitters from reflections of the IR emitters, e.g., from the surface of a table or a window. For example, when IR emitters are disposed in a pattern that is symmetrical about a horizontal axis, the remote control system may mistake reflections of the IR emitters from a table surface for the actual IR emitters. Or, when IR emitters are disposed in a pattern that is symmetrical about a vertical axis, the remote control system may mistake reflections of the IR emitters from a window for the actual IR emitters. Again, such mistakes may result in incorrect determinations of the position and/or movement of the remote control.

"The present invention can include remote control systems that can distinguish predetermined light sources from stray or unintended light sources, such as environmental light sources and/or reflections.

'In one embodiment of the present invention, the predetermined light sources can be disposed in asymmetric substantially linear or two-dimensional patterns. Here, a photodetector can detect light output by the predetermined light sources and stray light sources, and transmit data representative of the detected light to one or more controllers. The controllers can identify a derivative pattern of light sources from the detected light indicative of the asymmetric pattern in which the predetermined light sources are disposed.

"In another embodiment of the present invention, the predetermined light sources can output waveforms modulated in accordance with signature modulation characteristics. By identifying light sources that exhibit the signature modulation characteristics, a controller of the present invention can distinguish the predetermined light sources from stray light sources that do not modulate their output in accordance with the signature modulation characteristics.

"In a further embodiment of the present invention, each predetermined light source can output light at one or more different signature wavelengths. For example, a photodetector module of the present invention can detect the signature wavelengths using multiple photodetectors, each of which can detect one of the signature wavelengths. Alternatively, the photodetector module can include an interleaved photodetector having an array of interleaved pixels. Different portions of the interleaved pixels can detect one of the signature wavelengths."

Also, Apple was granted patent number 7657459 for techniques for acquiring a media season of digital media assets. In other words, it's for the "Season Pass" options at the iTunes Store.

Techniques to facilitate acquiring a media season, or a related series, of digital media assets from an on-line media store are disclosed. A user can view various media seasons that have been listed as available for purchase from the on-line media store. A user can choose to purchase a particular media season, either before or during the season. Subsequent to the purchase of the particular media season, digital media assets of the particular media season can be delivered to the user once the digital media assets become available. Since the monitoring is computerized and the delivery is electronic, once a digital media asset becomes available, delivery can be automatically processed. The inventors are Alexandrea Anderson, Debbie Shimizu, Elizabeth d'Errico, Robert Kondrk, Patrice Gautier, Thomas Burkholder and Colin Meldrum.


Apple also won patent number 7656393 is for an electronic device having a display and surrounding touch sensitive bezel for a user interface and control. An electronic device has a display and has a touch sensitive bezel surrounding the display. Areas on the bezel are designated for controls used to operate the electronic device.

Visual guides corresponding to the controls are displayed on the display adjacent the areas of the bezel designated for the controls. Touch data is generated by the bezel when a user touches an area of the bezel. The device determines which of the controls has been selected based on which designated area is associated with the touch data from the bezel. The device then initiates the determined control. The device can have a sensor for determining the orientation of the device. Based on the orientation, the device can alter the areas designated on the bezel for the controls and can alter the location of the visual guides for the display so that they match the altered areas on the bezel. The inventors are Nick King, Duncan Kerr, Paul Herbst and Steven P. Hotelling.

Other patents that appeared today include the following.

Patent number 765623 involves methods and an apparatus for charging a battery in a peripheral device. A power manager for managing power delivered to a battery operated peripheral device is disclosed. The power manager includes an input current limiter arranged to suppress a power surge associated with an insertion event by a power cable arranged to provide an external voltage. A voltage converter unit coupled to the input current limiter converts the received external voltage to a supply voltage that is transmitted by way of a main bus to a voltage sensor unit coupled thereto. During the insertion event, a comparator unit coupled to the voltage sensor, sends a first switching signal to a switchover circuit that responds by connecting the peripheral device and an uncharged battery to the main bus such that the supply voltage is provided thereto. When the battery is substantially fully charged, the switchover circuit responds by electrically disconnecting the battery so as to not overcharge the battery. The inventors are Anthony M. Fadell and Christoph Krah.

Patent number 7657849 involves unlocking a device by performing gestures on an unlock image. According to the patent, a device with a touch-sensitive display may be unlocked via gestures performed on the touch-sensitive display. The device is unlocked if contact with the display corresponds to a predefined gesture for unlocking the device. The device displays one or more unlock images with respect to which the predefined gesture is to be performed in order to unlock the device. The performance of the predefined gesture with respect to the unlock image may include moving the unlock image to a predefined location and/or moving the unlock image along a predefined path. The device may also display visual cues of the predefined gesture on the touch screen to remind a user of the gesture. The inventors are Imran Chaudhri, Bas Ording, Freddy Allen Anzures, Marcel Van Os, Stephen O. Lemay, Scott Forstall and Greg Christie.

Patent number 765623 involves user interface gestures. Apparatus and methods are disclosed for simultaneously tracking multiple finger and palm contacts as hands approach, touch, and slide across a proximity-sensing, multi-touch surface. Identification and classification of intuitive hand configurations and motions enables unprecedented integration of typing, resting, pointing, scrolling, 3D manipulation, and handwriting into a versatile, ergonomic computer input device. The inventors are Wayne Carl Westerman and John G. Elias.

Patent number 7656 is for a method and apparatus for frame buffer management. At least one embodiment of the present invention dynamically enables or disables the use of a virtual frame buffer, which is not under control of graphics hardware of a data processing system, without restarting the graphical user interface system (e.g., the window system) of the data processing system. For example, in response to the addition or removing of a frame buffer that is under control of a graphics controller (e.g., due to the activation or deactivation of the graphics controller, or the hot plug-in or hot disconnection of the graphics controller), the virtual frame buffer is disabled or enabled respectively. The inventors are Michael James Paquett and Simon Douglas.

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