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Apple files for patent Passbook's digital coupon feature, hints at NFC

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
In a patent filing discovered on Thursday, Apple provides an in-depth look at the inner workings of its Passbook app -- the digital coupon, ticket and gift card storage solution which comes pre-installed on all new iPhone and iPod touch products.

Coupon Patent
Source: USPTO


The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Thursday published Apple's patent application for an "Integrated coupon storage, discovery, and redemption system," a property covering the receipt, storage and use of digital coupons on mobile device. Also mentioned is the ability for the system described to use near-field communication technology when redeeming coupons, a protocol not yet supported by current Apple products.

While the application dates back to June 2011, over one year prior to Passbook's unveiling, the functionality described in the patent is identical to the app found iOS 6. Most of the filing's language pertains to the method in which digital coupons, like those from nationwide retailers, are managed and redeemed.

The invention calls for a "coupon wallet" that stores unique identifying coupon information, such as numbers or barcodes, which can be scanned or input into the mobile device via a camera or touchscreen. Other embodiments allow for a server to transmit coupon codes, or have them received through email messages.

Once entered into the device, the system manages the various coupons stored on-board or off-site, and will notify a user of upcoming expiration dates or when they are in proximity to a store where one of the codes can be used. Here the invention calls for geo-fencing technology as implemented with Apple Store gift cards. Currently, when a customer has stored an Apple Store gift card onto a compatible device with GPS functionality, they can choose to have Passbook open and display the digital code when walking into any official Apple retail outlet.

Coupon Notification
Illustration of coupon notification based on GPS or expiration date.


In some embodiments, the entire wallet can be kept on an off-site server or computer and be accessed through data networks. Currently, Passbook uses iCloud to feed coupon information across networked devices.

Going further, the invention notes that a user may subscribe to a coupon service like Groupon for automated code transmission and storage.

Coupon Storage
Illustration showing retrieval and storage of "Metro Sandwich" coupon.


When it comes time to redeem a coupon, a user opens the management system and store clerks scan the UPC code or enter the coupon number through point of sale stations. Once the information is sent to a specialized server and verified, the discount can be applied.

Also covered in the application are NFC implementations. Because no existing Apple device have such capabilities, the filing suggests that the company is at least thinking about including the protocol in future versions of the iPhone or iPod touch.

Future iterations of the system may include the automatic generation and dissemination of coupons when a user enters a store, or the advertisement of current deals running at a given business. This can be accomplished through any number of wireless protocols, including Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

Apple has previously applied for patents involving Passbook-like functionality and was awarded a travel ticket storage and redemption property in July.

It is unclear if the company will utilize all of the invention's claims, though many are already incorporated into the current Passbook app.
post #2 of 6
The artist renderings crack me up sometimes. You have this multi-billion dollar company filing patents and they call calculator "calculation", have camera twice- and calculation, the 2nd camera, mail, safari, and iPod are all off center. Some way off center.

Just an observation. 1smile.gif

2014 27" Retina iMac i5, 2012 27" iMac i7, 2011 Mac Mini i5
iPad Air 2, iPad Mini 2, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6, iPod Touch 5
Time Capsule 5, (3) AirPort Express 2, (2) Apple TV 3

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2014 27" Retina iMac i5, 2012 27" iMac i7, 2011 Mac Mini i5
iPad Air 2, iPad Mini 2, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6, iPod Touch 5
Time Capsule 5, (3) AirPort Express 2, (2) Apple TV 3

Reply
post #3 of 6
That's because none of that stuff relates to the invention and these patents aren't consumer facing. The most important thing from their POV is getting it filed quickly by a person who knows what matters.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Andysol View Post

The artist renderings crack me up sometimes. You have this multi-billion dollar company filing patents and they call calculator "calculation", have camera twice- and calculation, the 2nd camera, mail, safari, and iPod are all off center. Some way off center.
Just an observation. 1smile.gif
Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
Reply
Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
Reply
post #4 of 6
Apple considering NFC as a future possibility! OMFG, stop the press.

At least then NFC would be taken seriously by companies outside of Japan and it might actually start being used as a way to pay and not just a lame argument as to why Android phones are better.
post #5 of 6
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

That's because none of that stuff relates to the invention and these patents aren't consumer facing. The most important thing from their POV is getting it filed quickly by a person who knows what matters.
Thanks for the education. Wow- I never knew they didn't make patent filings for the customers! /s

You make it sound like they were in some crucial race against time and google was JUST about to make the same patent if they didnt get it in that second! Another minute and they wouldn't have gotten it in... "Shwew... Close one!"

It takes what... 13 seconds to center those 4 things? Like I said- I just found it humorous that the combination of an artist and an engineer while making a patent (and this isn't the only one)- that they would lack attention to simple details. I don't send an inter-office email without a proof read...

2014 27" Retina iMac i5, 2012 27" iMac i7, 2011 Mac Mini i5
iPad Air 2, iPad Mini 2, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6, iPod Touch 5
Time Capsule 5, (3) AirPort Express 2, (2) Apple TV 3

Reply

2014 27" Retina iMac i5, 2012 27" iMac i7, 2011 Mac Mini i5
iPad Air 2, iPad Mini 2, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6, iPod Touch 5
Time Capsule 5, (3) AirPort Express 2, (2) Apple TV 3

Reply
post #6 of 6
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post
...  Also covered in the application are NFC implementations. Because no existing Apple device have such capabilities, the filing suggests that the company is at least thinking about including the protocol in future versions of the iPhone or iPod touch. ...

 

Not true.  All this tells us is that at some point in the past, Apple was thinking of adding NFC.  The patent application would have been written a long time ago.  

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