Apple investigates tamper-resistant hardware, iPod motion controls

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
New patent applications revealed this week show Apple has worked on new methods to discourage users from opening its hardware and voiding its warranty, as well as extending additional accelerometer controls to iPod playback.



Tamper-resistant label detects device openings



Apple's patent application notes that it is in the best interest of an electronics manufacturer to be able to know when a device has been "compromised" and opened, thus voiding its warranty. Unauthorized tampering with an electronic device can destroy it, and without evidence of such tampering, a manufacturer may be obligated to support its warranty. Apple's technology, the company said, could save manufacturers "substantial costs."



"Unfortunately, many users nevertheless open their electronic devices to attempt to repair, reverse engineer or even hack various things within the device," the application reads. "Of course, one drawback to such unauthorized access is that one or more internal items may be destroyed or compromised, thus limiting the ability of the manufacturer or provider to provide effective servicing of the device."



The filing with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office describes a specialized label that attaches to multiple locations inside of a device. Disassembling of the hardware would rip, damage or affect the label, which could then be detected by the manufacturer.



Such labels could be U-shaped or zigzagged, and could be made from paper, plastic, or a metallic foil.



"In the event that the user nevertheless does fully or substantially open the electronic device, then the label tears or otherwise becomes damaged," it reads. "Although such damage may be noticed by the user after opening the device, any repair or replacement of the torn or damaged label would ordinarily be difficult after the fact. In the event that the electronic device is ever exchanged, returned for repairs or otherwise provided back to the manufacturer or other authorized party, then the device can be checked to see if it has ever been opened since its initial issuance."







As they have become smaller and more advanced, Apple's portable devices in particular have become more and more difficult to disassemble. In its teardown of the new fifth-generation iPod nano, iFixit noted that the use of glue made the media player easy to put together, but difficult to take apart.



"We wish Apple would a little effort into making iPods repairable, instead of forcing people to throw them away when they break," the solutions provider said. "Recent iPods have become increasingly difficult to successfully repair."



iPod accelerometer controls



Apple could be bringing accelerometer controls to the iPhone, iPod touch, and potentially other iPods in the future, according to a new patent application.



Accelerometer control has already played a part in many games for the iPhone and iPod touch. Apple also introduced an accelerometer to the iPod nano in 2008, allowing users to rotate for cover flow view and shake to shuffle songs.



But the new patent application describes actively controlling the iPod media playback solely through the accelerometer, by moving and shaking the device. Users could scroll through songs, flip through the cover flow mode, and select content for playback all through physical motion.







"The physical stimuli can take any form, including an acceleration event, such as a flicking motion," the application reads. "The present invention can utilize an accelerometer to detect and measure the acceleration event, and even determine the direction and magnitude of the acceleration event."



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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 43
    It was introduced in the Nano in 2008, not 2004.
  • Reply 2 of 43
    Understandable if people are shoving in unsupported 3rd party hardware into Apple hardware, and then turning around and demanding Apple take responsibility for any ensuing damage while still under warranty.
  • Reply 3 of 43
    daharderdaharder Posts: 1,580member
    Seriously...



    Just how much CONTROL does Apple feel they need to have over items purchased by consumers?



    If someone buys a device and then decides to do whatever they choose with said item, it's their business, as well as their assumption of liability should something go awry.
  • Reply 4 of 43
    Oh Apple.. You should just make the HD in the imac user upgradeable like the laptops.. then we won't have to open 'er up.
  • Reply 5 of 43
    There have long been case sensors available for desktop PCs that sound an alarm if the case is opened. Why not develop a simple circuit or sensor that is disrupted when the ipod/iphone device is opened? Then the ipod/iphone could report any tampering on screen without having to even open the device to see if it was compromised.



    If Apple really wants to be anal about it, they could even design the circuit to disable the device if an intrusion is detected.
  • Reply 6 of 43
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by DaHarder View Post


    Seriously...



    Just how much CONTROL does Apple feel they need to have over items purchased by consumers?



    If someone buys a device and then decides to do whatever they choose with said item, it's their business, as well as their assumption of liability should something go awry.



    None of this new tamper detection will prevent compulsive tinkerers from doing their thing. It will simply be easier for Apple to tell when any such tampering takes place, and then be able to refuse warranty coverage.
  • Reply 7 of 43
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,421member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by DaHarder View Post


    Seriously...



    Just how much CONTROL does Apple feel they need to have over items purchased by consumers?



    If someone buys a device and then decides to do whatever they choose with said item, it's their business, as well as there assumption of liability should something go awry.



    seriously... YOU get over it...



    Just as you said. "If someone buys a device and then decides to do whatever they choose with said item, it's their business."



    Right up to the point you crack said item up and tinker with its insides, you're on your own. It naive and ignorant to assume that ANY manufacturer, Apple or otherwise, should have to clean up their mess for being too curious.



    I can't even begin to count how many times I've read and seen over the years about people trying to return purchased items they knowingly broke in some fashion and claim stupidity about how it happened.



    In the long run, I think this is better for consumers since companies won't have to spend so much money on replacing / fixing items that frankly, should never have been done under "warranty". Less cost for them will hopefully trickle down to us in cheaper prices.



    The only thing I could see with this is the "sensor" become damaged during the initial assembly phase and leaving the facility that way. The consumer has no way of knowing that their shiny new toy technically would be considered void the moment they open the packaging.
  • Reply 8 of 43
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by DaHarder View Post


    Seriously...



    Just how much CONTROL does Apple feel they need to have over items purchased by consumers?



    If someone buys a device and then decides to do whatever they choose with said item, it's their business, as well as their assumption of liability should something go awry.



    MacGyver has spoken!

    If they are stupid enough to shell out the money to break it fine... just don't come crying to Apple to fix it. I don't see what getting inside of the device and messing around with it unless your trying to change a battery or something.

    Like little kids... got to break stuff open to see what's inside he he... .
  • Reply 9 of 43
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by DaHarder View Post


    Seriously...



    Just how much CONTROL does Apple feel they need to have over items purchased by consumers?



    If someone buys a device and then decides to do whatever they choose with said item, it's their business, as well as their assumption of liability should something go awry.



    This does nothing to take control from the end-user in terms of opening or altering the device. It only allows Apple to detect when the device has been opened. I don't like this as I enjoy opening many of my Apple devices and this could compromise warranty support, but I don't have any good reason to be upset about it. Apple's concern outlined in the patent application is reasonable. I imagine many complicated devices, such as the iPhone, are damaged when opened in such a scenario.
  • Reply 10 of 43
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by DanielSW View Post


    None of this new tamper detection will prevent compulsive tinkerers from doing their thing. It will simply be easier for Apple to tell when any such tampering takes place, and then be able to refuse warranty coverage.



    Exactly. This is a liability reduction measure and should save money for the company.
  • Reply 11 of 43
    The excerpt from the patent app doesn't say how Apple determines if the item has been opened without actually opening it. So how do they distinguish between the consumer doing it and the repair center doing it? Not that I doubt they have a method, I'm just curious.



    Like the Band-Aid package that says "Guaranteed sterile until opened", how do you prove it?
  • Reply 12 of 43
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by DaHarder View Post


    Seriously...If someone buys a device and then decides to do whatever they choose with said item, it's their business, as well as their assumption of liability should something go awry.



    seriously...you answered your own post.
  • Reply 13 of 43
    swingeswinge Posts: 108member
    Funny...I've had so many friends with iPhones upgrade to 3.0 and then think their handset was damaged when they went running and "shake to shuffle" went crazy. The default setting should be OFF....The possibilites are interesting but at the current state I think the headphones are the best way to control...
  • Reply 14 of 43
    djrumpydjrumpy Posts: 1,116member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by elffir View Post


    The excerpt from the patent app doesn't say how Apple determines if the item has been opened without actually opening it. So how do they distinguish between the consumer doing it and the repair center doing it? Not that I doubt they have a method, I'm just curious.



    Like the Band-Aid package that says "Guaranteed sterile until opened", how do you prove it?



    I was wondering that myself, but I can think of a few ways, specifically with a conductive material that once broken, sets a flag in nvram that the case has been cracked.
  • Reply 15 of 43
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by elffir View Post


    The excerpt from the patent app doesn't say how Apple determines if the item has been opened without actually opening it. So how do they distinguish between the consumer doing it and the repair center doing it? Not that I doubt they have a method, I'm just curious.



    Like the Band-Aid package that says "Guaranteed sterile until opened", how do you prove it?



    Good point!



    Besides, someone said what if the 'sensor' is already damaged when leaving the fabs.... I think it's a legitimate issue... How would we know??
  • Reply 16 of 43
    jb510jb510 Posts: 124member
    Hey I have a novel idea...



    How about making it EASIER for users to open up and service there electronics not harder...



    How about designing things so that users can actually service them without inadvertently damaging them...



    Seriously this pisses me off. I am more than skilled and capable enough replace a faulty power supply (did it last week in fact) or replace hard drives or memory modules or fans...



    Maybe Apple should just encase all there products in carbonite and render them un-servicable by anyone ever....
  • Reply 17 of 43
    djrumpydjrumpy Posts: 1,116member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jb510 View Post


    Hey I have a novel idea...



    How about making it EASIER for users to open up and service there electronics not harder...



    How about designing things so that users can actually service them without inadvertently damaging them...



    Seriously this pisses me off. I am more than skilled and capable enough replace a faulty power supply (did it last week in fact) or replace hard drives or memory modules or fans...



    Maybe Apple should just encase all there products in carbonite and render them un-servicable by anyone ever....



    I take it you didn't read any of the comments above? They aren't mailing harder unless you want to go back to cell phones from the 80's (corded handset anyone? due to minituration.



    They only want to know when you open them and void your warranty. Really, why would you open them before your warranty was out? They will replace the thing for free for any defects.
  • Reply 18 of 43
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by sflocal View Post


    seriously... YOU get over it...



    Just as you said. "If someone buys a device and then decides to do whatever they choose with said item, it's their business."



    Right up to the point you crack said item up and tinker with its insides, you're on your own. It naive and ignorant to assume that ANY manufacturer, Apple or otherwise, should have to clean up their mess for being too curious.



    I can't even begin to count how many times I've read and seen over the years about people trying to return purchased items they knowingly broke in some fashion and claim stupidity about how it happened.



    In the long run, I think this is better for consumers since companies won't have to spend so much money on replacing / fixing items that frankly, should never have been done under "warranty". Less cost for them will hopefully trickle down to us in cheaper prices.



    The only thing I could see with this is the "sensor" become damaged during the initial assembly phase and leaving the facility that way. The consumer has no way of knowing that their shiny new toy technically would be considered void the moment they open the packaging.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by newrigel View Post


    MacGyver has spoken!

    If they are stupid enough to shell out the money to break it fine... just don't come crying to Apple to fix it. I don't see what getting inside of the device and messing around with it unless your trying to change a battery or something.

    Like little kids... got to break stuff open to see what's inside he he... .



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mac_dog View Post


    seriously...you answered your own post.



    The OP made a perfectly reasonable point in response to the article. WTF is up with you petty drama queens polluting this board with your catty bulls**t? GROW UP
  • Reply 19 of 43
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by DaHarder View Post


    Seriously...



    Just how much CONTROL does Apple feel they need to have over items purchased by consumers?



    If someone buys a device and then decides to do whatever they choose with said item, it's their business, as well as their assumption of liability should something go awry.



    apple doesn't care if you mess with it, they just want to know when they're _NOT_ obligated to fix it if you screw up.



    FTA

    Unauthorized tampering with an electronic device can destroy it, and without evidence of such tampering, a manufacturer may be obligated to support its warranty. Apple's technology, the company said, could save manufacturers "substantial costs."



    apple's not the first to do this either - i have some electronics that have "warranty void if broken" stickers over the screws



    this tamper evidence thing sounds like the stickers on VHS tapes back in the day. void if removed. I guess they wanted to keep people from unscrewing the case and touching the tape.



    @jb510, I doubt they're talking about things where it's _plausible_ to service yourself, like Mac Pros - the optical drive died on my dual G5 tower a few years back, I used apple care to replace it. they OFFERED to cross ship me a replacement and asked if I was comfortable doing the work myself. I said no problem as long as it didn't void the warranty.. they said NO, they prefer to cross ship where possible because it's cheaper and faster for every one.



    this patent is for smaller devices "with no user serviceable parts inside" -
  • Reply 20 of 43
    Quote:

    Apple has worked on new methods to discourage users from opening its hardware and voiding its warranty



    umm...when you buy something, it's your hardware, not apple's.



    i'm not sure why tech companies bother with this stuff anymore. only technically savvy people even bother opening up their hardware, especially apple users. apple's core market would probably think most of their models, especially ipods and iphones, can't even be opened up.



    when something breaks, most people just buy another one. it's no wonder - a tech savvy person like me saved $200 by repairing my own macbook. if it was a slightly more major repair 90+% of users would simply buy a new computer. why bother with anti-tampering measures?



    i mean i'm not really on the side saying this is unfair - after all, if you are under warranty, there's no reason to bother opening up your device. but i think apple is wasting time and money on a patent that will probably be denied anyway (since most are).
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