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Apple awarded patent for RFID tag reader in touchscreen devices

post #1 of 22
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A patent recently granted to Apple detailing a method of incorporating a Radio Frequency Identification tag reader into the screen of a portable touchscreen device in order to save space has furthered speculation that Apple plans to add RFID features to the iPhone.

The patent, entitled "Touch Screen RFID Tag Reader," describes "the efficient incorporation of RFID circuitry within touch sensor panel circuitry. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office published the filing on Tuesday.

RFID allows devices to sense embedded chips in nearby objects without the requirement of contact or a visible line of sight.

In the filing, Apple documents a process by which the touch sensor panel of a device can be modified to double as an "RFID transponder," thereby eliminating the need for a "space-consuming RFID antenna."

According to the invention, loops for the antenna of the RFID circuit can be formed from "metal on the same layer as metal traces form in the borders of a substrate" without requiring a separate metal layer.



Michael Nathaniel Rosenblatt and Steve Porter Hotelling are listed as inventors of the patent.

Apple's method for employing RFID tag reader technology within a touchscreen joins a growing collection of RFID patent applications, which include the invention of a mobile "ID App" for reading RFID tags and a method of using RFID to sense and connect to WiFi networks.

The proposed "ID App" would utilize an RFID reader, camera and an IR image capture device to identify objects, such as a painting in a museum, and search a set of databases to gather more information.



In August last year, rumors emerged that Apple was planning to bring near field communications technology, such as RFID, to the next-generation iPhone. Further evidence of Apple's alleged plans for an RFID-capable iPhone came in October of last year when reports suggested that an Apple partnership with chip manufacturer Gemalto could pave the way for contactless transactions on the iPhone via RFID.

In January, AppleInsider discovered a job listing for an iPhone hardware engineer with RFID experience. It has been suggested that Apple will implement an e-wallet feature to take advantage of the rumored NFC-capabilities in future iOS devices.

Analyst Brian White with Ticonderoga Securities claimed in February that the next iPhone will utilize NFC for a 'unique' twist that would go beyond just e-wallet functionality. After a suprising contrary report suggested that NFC would not make it into the next iPhone, Forbes reported in March that, according to a trustworthy source in the NFC market, the iPhone 5 will indeed have NFC contactless capabilities.
post #2 of 22
This patent will be worth gold as no other cell phone will be able to utilize RFID...or am I mistaken?
post #3 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Feynman View Post

This patent will be worth gold as no other cell phone will be able to utilize RFID...or am I mistaken?

Other phones already have RFID though Im not sure how this patent varies form their installation.
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post #4 of 22
Others will copy without innovating and without thinking it through before rushing it to the market to compete with Apple.
post #5 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Feynman View Post

This patent will be worth gold as no other cell phone will be able to utilize RFID...or am I mistaken?

I think the main take away from this, is that the RFID antenna/circuit is built around the display in an existing metal layer, something no other manufacturer is doing.

Other manufacturers either are, or will now have to, take up extra space within the device for this dedicated function.

As usual, this is an example of elegant integration of existing technologies in a new and innovative way.

Before all the trolls jump in, remember this is not a patent on RFID in mobile devices, this is a patent on "integration of RFID tech into the touchscreen of a mobile device" (i.e. a specific implementation, rather than a trolling vague concept.
post #6 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by tawilson View Post

I think the main take away from this, is that the RFID antenna/circuit is built around the display in an existing metal layer, something no other manufacturer is doing.

Other manufacturers either are, or will now have to, take up extra space within the device for this dedicated function.

As usual, this is an example of elegant integration of existing technologies in a new and innovative way.

Before all the trolls jump in, remember this is not a patent on RFID in mobile devices, this is a patent on "integration of RFID tech into the touchscreen of a mobile device" (i.e. a specific implementation, rather than a trolling vague concept.

Very nicely stated.
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post #7 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by sennen View Post

Very nicely stated.

Why thank you. Rather pround of it, given that it was written at 7AM
post #8 of 22
Since you haven't seen either the methods that other smartphone manufacturers are/will be using to implement the feature, nor even if Apple will use this patent, it's a bit early for a pat on the back. I think all these guys are into 'space-saving"
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post #9 of 22
I still don't get this whole concept. If your wrist is too weak to run a nearly weightless card through a slot, how is it not too weak to wave a several-ounce phone around?
post #10 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by tawilson View Post

I think the main take away from this, is that the RFID antenna/circuit is built around the display in an existing metal layer, something no other manufacturer is doing.

Other manufacturers either are, or will now have to, take up extra space within the device for this dedicated function.

As usual, this is an example of elegant integration of existing technologies in a new and innovative way.

Before all the trolls jump in, remember this is not a patent on RFID in mobile devices, this is a patent on "integration of RFID tech into the touchscreen of a mobile device" (i.e. a specific implementation, rather than a trolling vague concept.

Excellent observation. I am curious about this whole feature. I can see where inventory control would be great. This fits in nicely with product identification and registration as well.

I am a bit concerned about competing with credit cards however ... do we really want the carriers involved more with our bank accounts? I would like feedback on this issue.
post #11 of 22
It's not just the carriers that want to get involved with payment processing. Apple wants a piece of each transaction as does Google, Microsoft, the banks, Visa, Mastercard, etc. They're all going to be fighting over the opportunity to charge you a fee every time you use your phone (or other mobile device) to swipe a payment. One is hoping they'll be the standard that all others follow.
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post #12 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

Since you haven't seen either the methods that other smartphone manufacturers are/will be using to implement the feature, nor even if Apple will use this patent, it's a bit early for a pat on the back. I think all these guys are into 'space-saving"

I certainly had no intention to imply that others weren't interested in space-savings (can't see how you drew that conclusion). I was merely pointing out that this is one hell of a space-saving advantage that other manufacturers will not be able to pursue. There may be others including the antenna around the motherboards, or integrated as part of the motherboard circuitry.

Apple's idea uses what is currently dead space around the outside of the LCD panel. I certainly haven't seen any other manufacturers awarded patents for ideas even closely resembling this, so the pat on the back is deserved, IMO.
post #13 of 22
Nice to see a thread remaining civil, seems rather a rarity especially on here and MacRumors
post #14 of 22
I like to think I'm one of the most civil guys here

This is how things should be.
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post #15 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Feynman View Post

This patent will be worth gold as no other cell phone will be able to utilize RFID...or am I mistaken?

Sadly no more than Apple's patents on everything to do with iPhone and iPad protected them. It seems everyone and their dog can copy everything Apple does with impunity.

Hopefully as tawilson's excellent post explained, the advantage will be Apple's through better design.
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post #16 of 22
There's been a lot of patent activity regarding RFID, and starting several years ago, with Motorola appearing to be the most aggressive. No doubt someone is going to step in someone else's patent pond as the space finally heats up.

http://www.slideshare.net/alexglee/c...ysisrfid20091q
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post #17 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mac-sochist View Post

I still don't get this whole concept. If your wrist is too weak to run a nearly weightless card through a slot, how is it not too weak to wave a several-ounce phone around?

It is about convenience and durability. I had to replace two debit cards in the last 4 years because the magnetic strip get damaged from usage (I use my visa debit card a lot since I decided to cancel all my credit cards years ago). It is also convenient in that you can have your prepaid and postpaid store cards processed without carrying them all around. I have scanned all of my membership cards to my iPhone. No more bulky wallets.
post #18 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mac-sochist View Post

I still don't get this whole concept. If your wrist is too weak to run a nearly weightless card through a slot, how is it not too weak to wave a several-ounce phone around?

Since so many people are on the phone while standing at the cash register, which I think is incredibly rude to the clerk and other customers, they can't be bothered to get out their credit card. See why this is necessary?

Quote:
Originally Posted by NasserAE View Post

It is about convenience and durability. I had to replace two debit cards in the last 4 years because the magnetic strip get damaged from usage (I use my visa debit card a lot since I decided to cancel all my credit cards years ago). It is also convenient in that you can have your prepaid and postpaid store cards processed without carrying them all around. I have scanned all of my membership cards to my iPhone. No more bulky wallets.

Does this bulky wallet make my butt look fat?

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post #19 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mac-sochist View Post

I still don't get this whole concept. If your wrist is too weak to run a nearly weightless card through a slot, how is it not too weak to wave a several-ounce phone around?

Ummm, so how are you planning on running that priceless museum painting through that "slot on your phone"? Or each of those shoulder-fired weapons that you are inventorying? The discussion includes moving beyond a mag strip reader
post #20 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

Does this bulky wallet make my butt look fat?

Maybe. But it will cause back problems
post #21 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by NasserAE View Post

Maybe. But it will cause back problems

Well, when you consult your physician about the back pain, he will perform a walletectomy - same treatment as with any other malady.

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post #22 of 22
So.... the post mentions IR. Just connecting the dots, but if the next gen iOS devices include IR cameras, and the rumored Apple TV (which runs iOS presumably paving the way to apps developed by Apple's army of loyal iOS devs) were to include built-in IR diodes...

Apple may be poised to compete directly w/ console platforms. And why not? Imagine if your Wii remote also had a touchscreen and could display UI (similar to the bottom screen on the DS). iPhone already has a gyro, vibrator, speaker, and by way of said display an infinitely configurable input interface.

Aside from that IR camera in a device is just one more thing to throw to developers and see what crazy out-there application of said hardware they come up with.

Love it. Bring it.
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