Patent application revelations II

Patent application revelations II

Summary: In yesterday's installment I covered some of the revelations found in Apple's United States Patent Application #20060268528. Today I'll discuss some of the other interesting aspects of the patent.


iPhone patent pic 4In yesterday's installment I covered some of the revelations found in Apple's United States Patent Application #20060268528 (USPTO, text, PDF) for a "handheld computing device (that) includes an enclosure having structural walls formed from a ceramic material that is radio-transparent."

Some of the more interesting parts of Apple's patent application discuss a seamless one-piece iPod enclosure constructed from radio transparent ceramics and internal rails that serve as a guide for positioning and supporting the internal components.

Today I'll discuss some of the other interesting aspects of United States Patent Application #20060268528 as they are likely to be a prelude of things to come from Apple.

Multiple input devices
I've previously mentioned that the new patent indicates that the new iPod device will be more modular than ever allowing internal components to be inserted through open ends of the enclosure. But the patent goes deeper, hinting that modules may be interchangeable to accommodate different needs and that we may be able to use multiple input devices.

user interface elements may correspond to a display and/or an input device such as a keypad, touch pad, touch screen, joystick, trackball, buttons, switches and/or the like.

Dedicated power
The patent goes on to discuss the potential of a dedicated power button on the iPod which would be a first for the product line.

The computing device 100 also includes one or more switches 112 including power switches, hold switches, and the like. The power switch is configured to turn the device 100 on and off

Many novice users complain about the iPod's lack of a power switch and have difficulty figuring out that pausing the iPod will (eventually) force it to turn off.

Even more interesting is the patent's mention of a dedicated power port:

The device 100 may also include one or more connectors 116 for transferring data and/or power to and from the device 100. In the illustrated embodiment, the device 100 includes an audio jack 116A, a data port 116B and a power port 116C... The power port 116C, on the other hand, allows power to be delivered to the computing device 100

In its five years of existence the iPod has always received power from either the FireWire or USB 2.0 cable. A dedicated power port on an iPod could mean the end of Apple's proprietary 30-pin "dock connector" and backwards compatibility with thousands of accessories that connect to it. In one scenario, Apple could switch to a micro USB connector for data transfer and a dedicated power connector for AC power.

A true USB port on the iPod would be delightful for users that want a standard USB connection for times when they forget to bring their "iPod cable" with them. Customer-oriented companies (like RIM/Blackberry) are already using micro USB power connectors on their devices instead of expensive proprietary connectors that leave their customers stranded with a dead phone.

While accessory manufacturers will have to retool for the new device, it's high time that Apple abandon their expensive dock connector for a more standards-based connector like USB. My sense is that Apple is considering the USB port for the iPhone so that consumers will have the most charging options for the device. A phone is lot more critical than an iPod in life threatening situations and I hope that Apple takes this into account.

As a betting man, I'd say that Apple sticks with the dock connector for dedicated iPods because they like the extra revenue they get from cables and to maintain compatibility with existing iPod accessories.

Battery Technology
The patent mentions a new type of battery not previously used by Apple:

the battery may correspond to a rechargeable lithium polymer battery or a lithium ion prismatic cell. These type of batteries are capable of offering about 10 hours of continuous playtime to the device

According to IEEE prismatic design cells which use a lithium manganese oxide based cathode material should be much less costly and safer than Lithium-ion (Li-ion) or lithium polymer batteries (LiPo). Curiously, the new cells meet many military performance criteria, but "the most significant drawback of this technology, at the present time, is the short cycle life."

The usual patent disclaimers apply: Apple may never use any of the items in this patent or they may incorporate all of the into some sort of frankenphone. They're using the patent to protect as much technology and balancing that with giving as few hints as possible to the media and competitors.

Topic: Apple

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Wow, the innovation continues!!

    [i]The patent goes on to discuss the potential of a dedicated power button on the iPod[/i]

    Apple is patenting a power button?! HAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!! And who says Apple doesn't innovate?
    • Wow, the zealotry continues

      Some people just can't help themselves. They've joined the cult of the hater and are now officially more annoying and boring than the zealots they pretend to fight against.
      tic swayback
      • Please explain to me...

        how a power button is an innovative feature?
        • Did I say it was?

          All I said was your trolling is becoming increasingly tiresome, and your obsession with Apple makes me worry about your mental state.
          tic swayback
          • Good

            Then you admit that I'm factually correct and the only reply you could come up with is "waa, waa, you are a troll, why are you so mean to Apple with your 100% factual statements, waa".

            I really don't understand why you would get so upset about something you admit was a true statement.
          • Your level of obsession upsets me

            One must look beyond the factual content of a statement, and also try to understand the emotional tone of the writing, and the deeper purpose the writer had. I think it's kind of silly to write an angry rant over one tiny possible aspect of a product that doesn't even exits. Damn Apple! Those bastards! How dare they include an on/off switch in one of their products!!!! They should be sent to jail for this!! They're just like Hitler!!

            So, given that you don't really have a deep emotional investment in whether Apple includes an on/off switch on a non-existent product, why would you write such an angry rant? And why write similar rants on nearly every single article ZDNet writes about anything that mentions (and frequently articles that don't even mention) Apple? If I were Apple, I'd start worrying that you were a stalker. Why the obsession? Can't you come up with a better hobby? Basically, I'm beginning to think of you as a more eloquent version of Vily Clay.

            It's difficult to watch someone publicly expose their inner demons like this. And that's what upsets me. I still think there's some repressed memory in there. Perhaps as a small child some bully used to beat you with an original Macintosh. Or maybe your mother had a wild affair with Steve Jobs and this broke up your parents' marriage. Otherwise, why invest so much time, so much emotion, in attacking a company whose products you don't use and have no intention of ever purchasing?

            Why bother? Does it make you feel superior to others? Does it feel good to boast about how much smarter you are than everyone who buys a Mac? Does that make you feel like a big man? Is that where you get your self-worth?

            If not, then why?
            tic swayback
          • For the last time

            I'm poking fun at the Mac zealots. I have no anger towards Apple.

            [i]Does it feel good to boast about how much smarter you are than everyone who buys a Mac?[/i]

            I don't think I'm smarter than my dad and he bought a Mac. However, he doesn't go around to every Vista article and say that transparent window frames aren't innovative. Well, I hope he doesn't!! I sarcastically write about Apple using the [b]exact[/b] same phrases that the Mac zealots write about MS. Does it make me feel superior? Hmmm, maybe, but that is only a free side-benefit and really, feeling superior to a Mac zealot is nothing to be proud of. What it does do is make me laugh when they get mad at me and they don't even realize that what they rant and fume and scream about me saying towards Apple are the exact same things they just wrote about MS. The difference is that they are serious about their hatred towards MS, I'm being sarcastic. So it makes me laugh, much like sitcoms make me laugh. Is that so bad? And yes, I know that sarcasm is the lowest form of humour. I'm comfortable with that. :)
          • Kind of sad

            I don't think I believe you when you claim you are less serious than the Mac zealots you claim to attack. You post more frequently than they do, and you are loathe to let a conversation drop. You are very intense in what you do, to the point of what one might easily call "zealotry".

            I still don't understand your motivation for doing what you do, nor why you are so locked in on just one tiny subset of the idiots who post around here.
            tic swayback
  • RE: Patent application revelations II

    Excellent !The patent goes on to discuss the potential of a dedicated power button on the iPod
    <a href="">this page</a> | <a href="">buy levitra</a> | <a href=""></a>