Apple is considered one of the leading patent holders in the world. In 2018, its filings totalled around 75,000, an increase of 2,100 that year alone. They undoubtedly have an extensive portfolio, which is, not surprisingly, a constant cause of dispute with most of the company’s many competitors. Apple’s team of engineers, designers and researchers are constantly working on bringing cutting-edge technology solutions to existing issues worldwide. These teams occasionally provide a glimpse of what will likely be released by the tech giant in the near future. Here are some fascinating, unique and amazingly futuristic patents granted to apple over the past decade or more.
It has been rumoured that Apple has been working on a pair of special AR glasses. Apparently, digital cues are projected over the spectacles, which the wearer can control using mere gestures. The first patent to this invention was granted in 2016, “METHOD FOR REPRESENTING POINTS OF INTEREST IN A VIEW OF A REAL ENVIRONMENT ON A MOBILE DEVICE AND MOBILE DEVICE THEREFOR”. Two continuation patents were applied for subsequently in 2017 and one again in 2019. Drawings reveal how the user can navigate and explore Munich’s streets, with the glasses superimposing landmarks in the viewer’s field of view. The wearer then virtually chooses a landmark to view its information.
This particular patent was filed in 2008 and granted in 2014. A sports monitoring system, these headphones can track the wearer’s temperature, breathing, heart rate and other vital signs. The over-the-ear designs are significantly different from Apple’s exclusive headphones but strikingly similar to the Beats Powerbeats range of devices. Interestingly, the company was bought over by Apple in the same year the patent was awarded. The patent also mentions controlling a different electronic device with headphones. This capability has already been implemented in Apple’s earphones, although we haven’t yet seen the complete biometric versions.
In 2016, Apple submitted a patent that, in retrospect, appears to be inspired by Samsung’s Dex. Drawings go with the description “electronic accessory device”. These show that a phone is inserted into the laptop’s case where there usually is a touchpad. The computer would then be powered by this phone using its own processing capabilities, including its GPU, CPU, and other components. In a different illustration, a tablet is displayed being slid into the spot where the laptop’s monitor would typically reside.
In a patent application filed in January 2013, the company is seen to have integrated the fingerprint scanner into the touchscreen display. This patent was granted five months later and would unlock your phone by just touching the screen. When the iPhone 5S with its biometric TouchID feature was released in September of that year, the patent’s claims, which at the time appeared a little outlandish, began to make more sense. On its most recent iPhones, Apple has switched from TouchID to FaceID. However, some MacBook models still have fingerprint scanning embedded into a glass button, which could be using the original patented technology.
In one of the more recently awarded patents, the company would contemplate attaching an optical sensor or a camera to the Apple watch’s band, which is a flexible loose strap. According to the patent, the sensor would be positioned at the distal of the watch band. With this, users could shoot pictures using the watch’s display, an iPad, or an iPhone and transmit the images to a linked device via data transfer. The company, thus, took a step forward to reduce people’s reliance on their phones while adding cellular plans to the Apple watch. The company further explained in the patent that the watch could be used primarily in areas where the smartphone couldn’t be, such as swimming, surfing, hiking and other high-octane activities.
The patent outlines a series of self-adjusting watch straps, perhaps drawing influence from the self-adjusting sneakers featured in the movie “Back to the Future”. Wearers can adjust their straps through a mere display. It is called “dynamic fit adjustment for wearable electronic devices”. According to the patent file, it was created because conventional fitness and health tracking devices do not really focus on user comfort nor provide an optimal fit. Thus, tight wristbands were necessary for such fitness devices, while loose bands could be reserved for older watches.
This patent, granted sometime in March 2018, is unique. A highly useful filing, which somehow hasn’t materialised yet. The documents, titled “Ingress prevention for keyboards,” outline two different methods that might be integrated into keyboards to prevent crumbs, dirt, and other particles from getting lodged under the keys. One method includes filling in the spaces between the keys, while another, more complex solution calls for installing a membrane beneath each key that releases air each time it is pressed.
A patent filed by Apple in August 2019 includes a number of gas sensors and calibration modules. We reckon that these would be one day included in the iPhone. The application shows a portable device attached with a tiny gas sensor, which can primarily identify MOX or metal-oxide gases. The system might be modified for upcoming smart speakers or other home goods that Apple is developing, especially to detect harmful levels of carbon monoxide. The company’s effort toward personal health and wellbeing, according to CEO Tim Cook, has the potential to become the “biggest gift” to humanity.