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Apple looking to simplify Bluetooth power states to conserve battery life

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
Apple is investigating a new way to power off Bluetooth-enabled electronic devices, allowing users to press just one button on one device to configure or disable multiple devices.

Apple's interest was revealed this week in a new patent application published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office entitled "Automatic Power-Off of Bluetooth Device from Linked Device." Discovered by AppleInsider, it describes a system where a user would only need to turn off one device, and other Bluetooth-enabled devices connected to it would respond accordingly.

Apple's application notes that Bluetooth devices often experience poor battery life. For example, if a person is using a Bluetooth headset to make a call, often times when the call is completed they forget to turn it off.

"For this reason, many devices typically include things such as timing circuits that power off the device if it hasn't been used for a given amount of time," the filing reads. "The problem with that 'solution,' however, is that it still wastes battery power even though the device is not in use."

The proposed invention also gives an example of a user going through an airport, who is often required by security to individually turn on their electronic devices to show that they are in proper working order. Then, once the person gets on the airplane, they are required to turn off all of their electronic devices prior to takeoff or landing.

"These situations often require a user to turn off multiple devices and can lead to devices being dropped and potential damage," the application reads.

Apple's solution would allow users to not only turn off all of their Bluetooth devices by deactivating one device, but could also alter the settings of a linked device, like an iPhone or MacBook Pro. The power state of multiple devices would be modified through a button press on just one device.

In addition to completely powering off a portable Bluetooth device, like a headset, the settings for a multipurpose device with Bluetooth connectivity could be altered. For example, an iPhone could be changed to a predetermined power-saving mode in which Bluetooth would automatically be disabled once the external headset is turned off. Or, the iPhone or MacBook Pro could go into a power-saving mode where Bluetooth communications would be restricted to minimal activity.



In this way, a device could be changed to what are referred to as "Sniff, Hold or Park Modes" of Bluetooth communications for battery conservation. In Sniff Mode, a device checks for Bluetooth signals at a reduced rate, Hold Mode remains synchronized and maintains an active status without actually participating, and Park Mode gives up an active status while maintaining synchronization.

This could conserve battery life on an iPhone, but also on an headset. In the filing, Apple notes that an iPhone could track the battery status of a Bluetooth headset, and switch to a power saving mode until a call is received.

The proposed invention, made public this week, was first filed with the USPTO in June of this year. It is credited to Michael M. Lee, Jeffrey L. Terlizzi, and Christopher D. Mckillop.



The new filing comes as Apple tomorrow will release its new iPhone 4S, with support for Bluetooth 4.0 profiles. Bluetooth 4.0 includes "Classic Bluetooth," "Bluetooth High Speed" and "Bluetooth Low Energy" protocols.

Bluetooth Low Energy, or BLE, mode is aimed at low-power and low-latency applications. It carries a short range of up to 160 feet, but still reaches farther than the competing radio-frequency identification (RFID) wireless standard.

Apple joined the Bluetooth Special Interest Group Board of Directors in June of this year, around the same time the filing was made. At the time it was revealed that Apple is aiding in developing the low-power Bluetooth 4.0 specification.

The iPhone 4S is the latest Apple device to gain support for Bluetooth 4.0, as Apple has recently been adding compatibility with the wireless specification to its devices. In July, the updated MacBook Air and Mac mini lineup gained Bluetooth 4.0 support.
post #2 of 9
First patent I've seen in a while I'm genuinely interested in. This is an awesome idea.
Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of a rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
Reply
Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of a rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
Reply
post #3 of 9
RFID, is not and never tried to compete with Bluetooth.

RFID, is essentially just a radio frequency bar code. sometimes it holds a little data, but never has it tried to and never will it try to transmit voice signals.
post #4 of 9
I'd like app level access to Bluetooth, WiFi, and Brightness. A mini-app to get to those controls fast and adjust them to save power. Going into Settings all the time gets old.

Semi-related: Getting to and cutting your passcode lock on and off is ridiculous.
Settings>General>(scroll down)>Passcode Lock>Turn Passcode On>Enter Passcode>Confirm Passcode
Then you have to enter your Passcode Three Times to get back in and switch it off.

How about a Passcode App?
post #5 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by iandean1980 View Post

RFID, is not and never tried to compete with Bluetooth.

RFID, is essentially just a radio frequency bar code. sometimes it holds a little data, but never has it tried to and never will it try to transmit voice signals.

The article wasn't stating the bluetooth is competing with RFID, but BLE, or Bluetooth Low Energy. Essentially, BLE would act similarly to RFID and sniff out other potential pairs for full power bluetooth. So the bluetooth radio would essentially be off in BLE mode, and then automatically turn on for pairing, and then automatically switch back to BLE once the voice call or data transfer, etc. is complete.
post #6 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleZilla View Post

I'd like app level access to Bluetooth, WiFi, and Brightness. A mini-app to get to those controls fast and adjust them to save power. Going into Settings all the time gets old.

Semi-related: Getting to and cutting your passcode lock on and off is ridiculous.
Settings>General>(scroll down)>Passcode Lock>Turn Passcode On>Enter Passcode>Confirm Passcode
Then you have to enter your Passcode Three Times to get back in and switch it off.

How about a Passcode App?

To your second point first, the passcode is intentionally a PITA to change, so it's not accidentally turned off when a toddler (for example) is playing with a phone.

About your first point, I couldn't agree more. They could even put a widget for it in the notification center. You could have bluetooth, wifi, airplane, and location switches, swipe left or right and you have a brightness slider.

edit: Come to think about it, third-party notification center widgets sounds like a good tentpole feature of iOS 6! I know jailbreakers are already making them, so it's certainly possible.
post #7 of 9
Why can't Apple just offer an icon on the phone that would offer the opportunity to turn bluetooth on and off without going so deep into the settings menu? If there were a light switch icon that would offer a menu to turn bluetooth and wireless on and off, it would make it much easier for people to conserve battery when they are not using these features. If the phone is without a bluetooth or wireless connection for five minutes or so, maybe a message could be sent to the user asking if she wants to turn these functions off. It's a pain in the butt to have to go inside the settings to activate and deactivate these features. Less than tech savvy relatives of mine own this phone and use the bluetooth while commuting and the wireless while at home. But these functions remain on all day, eating away at battery life.
post #8 of 9
OK Just out of curiosity, how often does a bluetooth device typically poll a phone to check a connection when it is inactive?
post #9 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

First patent I've seen in a while I'm genuinely interested in. This is an awesome idea.

Exactly my thoughts. Bring It!
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