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Apple patents low-power, "always-on" mobile device status indicators

post #1 of 7
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The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday granted Apple a patent for a system in which the status of a portable device can be persistently displayed on-screen without having to turn on the display or primary backlight.

Status Indicator
Source: USPTO


Apple notes that it may be necessary to check the status of a device, as many portable electronics simply shut off their displays when not in use as a method to conserve power. For example, an iPhone user has no way of knowing when their handset is on or off, or how much battery life is left, unless they turn on the main display.

While some solutions currently exist that display device status, they rely on technology that requires extra assembly and packaging, or takes away from the aesthetic appeal of the device.

In its U.S Patent No. 8,294,659 for a "Secondary backlight indicator for portable media devices," Apple describes a system in which a low-power, location-specific backlight is used to illuminate certain areas on a device's main display.

There are two modes covered in the invention, an "On" mode where the device's primary backlight and display are activated, and an "Off" mode in which a secondary low-power backlight is activated when the primary backlight and display are deactivated.

Status Backlighting
"On" and "Off" modes with respective backlighting.


Unlike other systems, the light is situated behind the primary backlight and display, and can be illuminated in sections. Instead of using cutouts in the device body, Apple's patent calls for icon shapes to be removed from multiple transparent or semi-transparent layers of primary backlight's system. When the low-power secondary backlight is turned on, the light emitted passes through the primary icon shaped regions of the primary backlight system's layers to the cover glass, but are blocked by color filters that hold a plurality of icon shapes.

In one embodiment, the icons can change shape and size when needed, a good example being a battery life indicator:

To vary the shape or size of each indicator, the shape and size of the color filters may be varied rather than the shape and size of the transparent or semitransparent regions of the primary backlight system. For example, color filters of different shapes and with different properties may be superimposed on each other. Thus, the shape of an icon on the display may depend on the color of light provided by the secondary backlight. This technique may also be used for icons that are displayed side-by-side.


The icons can also be dynamic, creating a blinking effect by pulsing the secondary backlight, which can in turn save power.

Status Icons
Different icons can be displayed in various screen locations.


Apple's invention allows for multiple icons to displayed on the device at any given location, with the secondary backlight selectively guiding light toward "certain regions of the primary backlight such that only selected icons are shown on the display."

It remains unclear if Apple will use the technology in an upcoming product, however space is already at a premium in the iPhone 5, making the addition of such a system questionable.
post #2 of 7
Apple patents the night light.
post #3 of 7
This looks to be an addition to another patent shown a while back where only a part of the screen is shown if only part of the magnetic smart cover is pulled back (also re-sites icons and notifications on the screen) to save battery life as people check time, battery or notifications etc.
post #4 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by Evilution View Post

This looks to be an addition to another patent shown a while back where only a part of the screen is shown if only part of the magnetic smart cover is pulled back (also re-sites icons and notifications on the screen) to save battery life as people check time, battery or notifications etc.

 

That's the first thing I thought also.  It shows they are still actively working on this one I guess and that it might actually see the light of day on some device in the near future.  If it works, and if it's implemented, I don't see how anyone could copy this as it's such an original and specific idea. 

post #5 of 7
Steve wasn't kidding when he remarked that Apple had patented iPhone very well ... I can't recall his exact words. I assumed (not knowing anything about the process) that it takes a few years for these things to be approved. If so and if there are many more I really hope this all ( as in the cumulative patents) start to hurt the copycats in a really bad way.
Been using Apple since Apple ][ - Long on AAPL so biased
nMac Pro 6 Core, MacBookPro i7, MacBookPro i5, iPhones 5 and 5s, iPad Air, 2013 Mac mini, SE30, IIFx, Towers; G4 & G3.
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Been using Apple since Apple ][ - Long on AAPL so biased
nMac Pro 6 Core, MacBookPro i7, MacBookPro i5, iPhones 5 and 5s, iPad Air, 2013 Mac mini, SE30, IIFx, Towers; G4 & G3.
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post #6 of 7
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post
Steve wasn't kidding when he remarked that Apple had patented iPhone very well ... I can't recall his exact words. I assumed (not knowing anything about the process) that it takes a few years for these things to be approved. If so and if there are many more I really hope this all starts to hurt the copycats in a really bad way.

 

THE PATENT SYSTEM IS BROKEN. lol.gif

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already f*ed.

 

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Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already f*ed.

 

Reply
post #7 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

Steve wasn't kidding when he remarked that Apple had patented iPhone very well ... I can't recall his exact words...

"and boy have we patented it!"
How to enter the Apple logo  on iOS:
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How to enter the Apple logo  on iOS:
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