This week Apple was granted 43 Utility Patents and 9 Design Patents. Two key Utility patents are explained below.
1. Apple patents improved Hearing aid compatible (HAC) mobile phones
Apple’s technology automatically determines whether or not the device is being used by a hearing impaired user who is wearing a hearing aid, and select a mode of operation based on this determination. The device includes a proximity sensor and a magnetic field sensor. The proximity sensor is used to detect a change in distance of the device to the user’s ear. The magnetic field sensor is used to detect a change in magnetic field caused by the device moving relative to the hearing aid.
Thus, the device automatically switches between a normal audio mode of operation and a hearing aid compatible mode of operation without requiring the user to manually select the mode of operation each time the user wants to change between a normal mode and hearing aid compatible mode.
2. Apple solves a major problem with video conferencing
Apple’s invention enables multiple users to participate in a multi-way conference in which each participant’s conference system communicates with the others’, and in which there is no requirement that each participant’s conference system have the same hardware capabilities. The patented communications methodology enables each participant’s conference system to take maximum advantage of its communications capability.
Upon logging in to a directory service, each user’s system makes known to the service its hardware sending and receiving capabilities, e.g., whether audio, video, text, etc., can be transmitted and/or received.
The directory service makes this information available to other users who may then wish to join a conference with the user. When a user wants to initiate a conference with multiple users, the initiating user sends invitations via the directory service to the remote users. The conference system of each user that accepts an invitation then transmits its network address (or addresses, if it has more than one) to the initiating user’s conference system, which then establishes a peer-to-peer connection with each of the remote users’ systems.
Full list of patents issued to Apple this week.