Apple patent uses photos to alter music

Apple patent uses photos to alter music

Summary: The US Patent and Trademark Office published a series of minor Apple iPhone/iOS patents including a method of altering audio output from an electronic device based on image data.

TOPICS: Apple, Legal

Last week, the US Patent and Trademark Office published a series of minor Apple iPhone/iOS patents including a method of altering audio output from an electronic device based on image data.

If Apple develops an application based on the method described, you'll be able to modify your music using one or more characteristics in any image that's on the screen of your iPhone or iPod -- sharpness, brightness, motion, magnification, zoom setting, and so forth, as well as variation in any of the preceding characteristics.

Alternatively, the algorithm will also allow for producing audio, "wherein at least one characteristic of the audio output is determined based on one or more of the image data characteristics." In this case the image acts as a spectrogram that generates an audio signal. Whatever the result, it'd need to be appealing or the functionality is D.O.A.

New Scientist's Paul Marks notes that it's not just photos that could be used to modify the audio, but also your GPS position or motioned sensed in the accelerometers. He writes, "So being in a certain place could play back a version of a tune unique to that position, or jogging could activate a triple-tempo Ramones track to get obsessive gym bunnies into the cardio clinic all the sooner."

Below is a block diagram depicting the processing of image data and the alteration of an audio signal by components of an electronic device as described in the patent.

Credit: Patently Apple

Credit: Patently Apple


'Seeing sound': 5 remarkable examples of cymatics and beyond

Top 5 futuristic music interfaces and instruments

Topics: Apple, Legal

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
  • I think

    I personally don't see much use for this technology. If you are vision impaired, it may have some value however to get sounds associated with locations, assuming the information is sufficiently fine grained.
    • I agree. It is more of a reverse variation on

      altering video output from an electronic device based on audio data, which is much more practical.
      Tim Cook
    • I found that true over the years for a

      @Economister <br>lot of Apple tech. I had no appreciation for the iPod... The device was in its forth generation before I even got one and I used it as an external hard drive for crying out loud. Then I started to use it for music and the rest is history:)<br><br>I still have no idea what I would use an iPad for but I have to say this second generation seems to have more potential. My biggest concept so far is to use it with iWorks to do some minor editing and note taking when I'm on the go... Coffee shops and such. Working on a story and that could be use full to me as well as of course a "FUN" device:P Still haven't bought one yet.<br><br>Over the years there have been a whole host of moves and tech Apple has done or created that I had no idea why or how that would work for me only to find in "MOST" cases I just didn't see it, and when I did I was like DUH!!!<br><br>Pagan jim
      James Quinn
    • If Apple patented it, it is useful

      You have to admit that Apple employs a lot of really brilliant people. It is likely that many of these people are even more brilliant than you. If they thought of something and you can't see why it is useful, it is probably because you simply haven't grasped its brilliance yet. I'll be the first to admit that Apple has released technology in the past and I had no idea why it would be useful. Then I realized how stupid I was after I saw an Apple commercial demonstrating how useful that technology was. This has happened often enough that I now simply trust that if Apple releases a technology, it is useful... by definition. If I don't see its usefulness right off the bat have confidence that I should still go ahead and buy it and Apple will soon show me an advertisement that will make it clear why I wanted the device in the first place. After all, just look at Apple's stock price. It didn't get there from Apple releasing useless devices!
      • RE: Apple patent uses photos to alter music

        @edtimes Wow...
      • RE: Apple patent uses photos to alter music

        Wow....that is so, so sad.
      • RE: Apple patent uses photos to alter music

        @edtimes - Put down the koolaid and step out of the reality distortion field...
    • RE: Apple patent uses photos to alter music

      I'm glad you think they turned out ok! :D <a href="">replica watches best</a>
  • RE: Apple patent uses photos to alter music

    Actually I think there is similar patent that Microsoft holds when they started working on lot of entertainment offerings, but I couldn't find the link for it. This may not be useful in the consumer front, but you could use similar technology at a provider level and is very useful.
    Ram U
  • Too Broad?

    I haven't reviewed the claims, but if their terms read on graphical editing (e.g., envelope filtering, headspace tech, etc.), then their enforceability is in question and the Examiner simply wasn't thinking! Conversely, 'covered' uses other than strictly music suggest other uses that might read on 'Interfacing Systems and Methods', which is still pending.
  • Already been done

    One of the environments I use Max/MSP/Jitter to produce and modify sound based on video and vice versa. In fact the use of OSC over Wifi via clients like the c74 app and touchOSC allow you to perform exactly the actions, and then some, as described in the patent.

    That being said I am sure this implementation is going to be highly accessible for those not interested in spending many hours programming such behaviors into any environment. Do I think it is something worthy of patenting? No, not particularly.
  • RE: Apple patent uses photos to alter music

    This is strange. You can already do this with Android's Tasker program. Look at any changing or stationary element of the phone then do another action; really cool. Why you would need to patent this seems strange when it is already being done to the most degree.