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Apple patents proximity-based system that automatically triggers media transfers from an iPhone...

post #1 of 11
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An Apple patent published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday describes a portable media carrier that can transfer files and documents to a computer, or any recipient device with a display, after said computer senses the device is near.

Proximity
Source: USPTO


Apple's U.S. Patent No. 8,417,779 for "Apparatus and method for interacting with handheld carrier hosting media content," basically describes a simple system for inserting media from a portable device into an email message, word processing document, photographic editing file, or any other application on a computer.

According to the patent, Apple looks to overcome challenges in interacting with content stored on a portable media device, like transferring media from a host device to a computer, which could be a daunting task for some users.

While not specifically mentioned in the patent language, any iOS device can be used as the "media carrier," as each is of necessary portability and can host the various type of media described, such as photos, video, music and handwritten drawings.

Insert


The system is almost completely automated. The host device, being the portable unit, is detected by a second device and initiates a media transfer if it is determined that such an action is desirable. The receiving unit, being a computer or non-handheld device, then inserts the media into an open document window, such as an email message.

For example, a user may want to insert a diagram into an email while typing. Instead of syncing the device or otherwise transferring it through wires or another complex manual method, the user can simply move their iPhone near the computer screen and have the image inserted into the text body. In some embodiments, images can be inserted into an image editing file or other documents running on the computer's screen.

The nuts and bolts of the system are somewhat easily implemented, given the plurality of sensors embedded in Apple's iOS device lineup. To activate the transfer, the patent calls on near field communications (NFC), Bluetooth, a camera or other sensor that can detect the proximity of a portable device in relation to a computer. Once a threshold distance is breached, the system determines that a file transfer is desirable. The patent even notes that even a momentary touch between the devices can be used to trigger the function.

Proximity


The system then recognizes what type of content is being transferred, and to where, before initiating the transmission. Moving documents and files from one device to the other is done through Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or any other acceptable wireless protocol.

Perhaps most important to the process is the software framework that initiates and completes the transfer. This interface must determine that media is ready to be acquired, capture the media and insert it into the appropriate running application on the receiving computer. Before doing so, however, the framework decides what type of content is being received, as well as what programs are running on the recipient computer. By determining the media and application activity, the software can intelligently decide what should be taken from the portable device and where it should be inserted.

A user can highlight appropriate media on the handheld device either manually, or by simply having the asset displayed on-screen. They also have the option to select where the media will be inserted through a graphical interface. For example, an option menu or pop-up window containing "Insert Hand-Drawn Pic" can be displayed when transferring a hand-drawn asset.

On that topic, the property notes hand-drawn diagrams can be inserted from the portable media device by using a camera disposed in the recipient computer.

Proximity Insert


While there are third-party methods that can accomplish some of the functionality described above, such as wireless transfers from an iOS device to one running OS X, Apple's method is unique insofar as the proximity trigger is concerned.

It is unclear if Apple will integrate the feature into a future iPhone or upcoming iteration of iOS, but the hardware called for already exists with the company's portable lineup.

The patent was first applied for in 2010 and credits Douglas Weber as its inventor.
post #2 of 11
Quote:
By determining the media and application activity, the software can intelligently decide what should be taken from the portable device and where it should be inserted.

Why does that part bother me?

As interesting as the patent sounds... what is so hard about developing AirDrop further for this functionality? Also, if say a photo would be used in a project, it would need to be (should be) moved to it's parent documents project folder.

There still must be a better way of syncing and accessing potential project data bi-directional (photos, videos, text, PDF, spreadsheets) on iOS devices rather than using iCloud, iTunes, or a 3rd Party Apps for access. Even Dropbox and Co. is still too difficult for many people, since it doesn't (easily) allow getting data from Macs, into the places on the iOS device that you would want them to be used.

I still say at this point, Apple must add settings in iOS to facilitate folder management and access to common file types by all apps, without having to resort to duplication of data. I'm mainly thinking photos, PDFs, etc. here.
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post #3 of 11
i wish they'd rather use this tech to mute all other devices that receive a notification which I just read while working on my Mac. Ever since I got the iPad 3 years ago I was astonished at the fact that the device was totally unaware that I also have a Mac and an iPhone. And that iTunes didn't copy over all the WiFi usernames and passwords and make me re-enter it when I'm at a friends with it for the first time also baffles me. But I digress; this patent entails much more than my simple example.
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post #4 of 11
This seems like a perfect addition to the 'Share' button. It has become my favorite feature recently, be it share to print or add to reading list or email. So a share this with my mobile device or vice versa would seem a perfect addition. I agree with the previous poster that this being decided by the computer as a little to vague but if done via share option it would be sweet. I am sure however that Apple will not make this confusing or problematic if instigated and I can't wait to see this in action. Of course doing this to another person's device that was close by would be interesting too. No having to email the wife some thing who is sitting three feet away. OK I know I have Airdrop but that is at times cumbersome. Requiring far too many steps in some cases.
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post #5 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by PhilBoogie View Post

i wish they'd rather use this tech to mute all other devices that receive a notification which I just read while working on my Mac. Ever since I got the iPad 3 years ago I was astonished at the fact that the device was totally unaware that I also have a Mac and an iPhone. And that iTunes didn't copy over all the WiFi usernames and passwords and make me re-enter it when I'm at a friends with it for the first time also baffles me. But I digress; this patent entails much more than my simple example.

You raise an interesting point. Here is another one I'd like to see ... If a bunch of devices are close by no need to 'notify' every one at same time! Our house is like a clock shop these days LOL. Just as an example, my wife adds a business related calendar event to our shared calendar and half a dozen devices start chiming. It is getting a little out of hand .. yet I don't want to change the General Settings on any one as at some point that might be the only device I have with me.
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post #6 of 11

Quote:

By determining the media and application activity, the software can intelligently decide what should be taken from the portable device and where it should be inserted.
 

Quote:

Originally Posted by ThePixelDoc View Post


Why does that part bother me?

As interesting as the patent sounds... what is so hard about developing AirDrop further for this functionality? Also, if say a photo would be used in a project, it would need to be (should be) moved to it's parent documents project folder.

There still must be a better way of syncing and accessing potential project data bi-directional (photos, videos, text, PDF, spreadsheets) on iOS devices rather than using iCloud, iTunes, or a 3rd Party Apps for access. Even Dropbox and Co. is still too difficult for many people, since it doesn't (easily) allow getting data from Macs, into the places on the iOS device that you would want them to be used.

I still say at this point, Apple must add settings in iOS to facilitate folder management and access to common file types by all apps, without having to resort to duplication of data. I'm mainly thinking photos, PDFs, etc. here.

 

AirDrop accomplishes similar via Wi-Fi, and this is an extension of that functionality via proximity technologies like Bluetooth, NFC etc.

 

There may also be patent obstacles in the way of the method as you have suggested, hence this may well be a workaround.

 

Having an absolute address for a file should also obviate the need for parent or child folders; an "intelligent clipboard" could store copies as necessary, so that things work without returning to outdated paradigms that themselves have proven difficult to absorb for many users, or exposing a filesystem that offers a security-bypassing trapdoor for malware.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
post #7 of 11
Originally Posted by ThePixelDoc View Post
Why does that part bother me?

 

It bothers you because there's no way software can determine what YOU want to take off a device at ANY given time without your input.


As interesting as the patent sounds... what is so hard about developing AirDrop further for this functionality? 

 

Dear frick, Apple seems to be doing so many things ALMOST right these days, yeah?

 

AirDrop, for example, should be ALWAYS ON. Not "NOPE YOU'RE SITTING RIGHT NEXT TO THIS PERSON BUT THEY'RE NOT SPECIFICALLY IN THE AIRDROP WINDOW IN FINDER, SO I REFUSE TO SHOW YOU THEM".

 

You go into AirDrop, you see them there, you drag them a file, they get a notification (WHILE THEY'RE DOING WHATEVER ELSE) that you want to share a file with them. "Accept, Decline, Block". They pick one. It cannot be that hard. Yeah, "security". That's what the "block" is for. And you'd be able to stop it entirely based on either a white or blacklist in the first place.

 

AirDrop should have been a better Network browser, not a WORSE one with a prettier GUI.

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post #8 of 11
Using this a improved icloud?
post #9 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Proximity Insert

Cool, a water-proof iPhone. But yeah, AirDrop for iOS or some other local syncing would be great.

It would be good if there was an open standard protocol too. So say you have a PDF, text doc, movie or picture on your device and want to share it with someone else who has an Android/iOS/Mac/Windows/other device, you could just send it locally and very quickly without thinking about using a productive computer (and cumbersome process) to do it.

As for having to be in the same window for AirDrop to work, I did find that a bit unintuitive but I can understand why they do that. If I was in a coffee shop, I don't want my device showing up on someone stranger's device. It provides a potential attack opportunity. Perhaps there can be two modes, one for accepting all incoming requests and a default one that is activated manually. A desktop can probably have it active all the time.
post #10 of 11
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post
It would be good if there was an open standard protocol too. So say you have a PDF, text doc, movie or picture on your device and want to share it with someone else who has an Android/iOS/Mac/Windows/other device, you could just send it locally and very quickly without thinking about using a productive computer (and cumbersome process) to do it.

 

No "bumping", no special folder location… I like it.

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post #11 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

No "bumping", no special folder location… I like it.

It could replace DropBox for a lot of things. You might want to take some work home, just copy it over to your iPhone, when you get home, just copy it to your home computer. It would take seconds to do via wifi direct (even 802.11n). They should have had local sync like this this ages ago. If they put it into a shared location it might need to be manageable but it can be a flat list with swipe to delete or they can go the route of putting files directly in and out of apps using an API but I'd prefer the shared storage area.
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