Apple is one name that features regularly at the US body that administers patent applications and this past week was no exception, with the tech giant filing a staggering 36 patents with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.
One of the three dozen patents filed see an end to cracked screens from dropped devices, with the company submitting an application for an “airbag” designed to protect the glass screen of any iDevice.
The patent covers what is described as a “tunable shock mount” that would sit between the glass and the chassis of the device. An accelerometer inside the device would sense any shock or sudden movements that could suggest that the device is falling and, in such cases, deploy an actuator to “suck in” the glass panel to protect it from damage.
Similar technology is already used by Apple in many of its laptops, with motion sensors used to detect when a laptop is being dropped so that it can “brace” many of the components to prevent damage and data loss.
Other highlights amongst the patents approved include a new “intelligent” power adaptor and a patent that could, in theory, enable Apple to challenge the likes of Foursquare, Facebook and other geo-location services.
Apple’s newly patented power adaptor is designed to replace the need for various separate power adaptors for various devices by intelligently detecting the various power needs (such as voltage and current) and servicing them simultaneously.
The new design would have multiple, daisy-chained DC-to-DC converters (either in the adapter itself, or the cord or a connector) supplying power to more than one device, and if successfully rolled out, could eliminate the need for separate adaptors for devices.
Perhaps more intriguingly, Apple has also been awarded a re-issue of a patent that was originally issued to Xerox in 1998.
In it, the patent describes a “location information system that displays location specific information, the location information system, comprising: a receiver that receives location identification information from at least one site specific object identifying a location.Iadd., where the at least one site specific object is a beacon.Iaddend.; and a transceiver that transmits the location identification information to a distributed network and that receives the location specific information about the specified location from the distributed network based on the location identification information, wherein the location specific information provides information corresponding to the location.”
In simple terms, the very generic patent describes functions that are currently already performed by a number of other geo-location based applications on smartphones and tablet devices, including Foursquare and Facebook.
The issuing of the patent has raised suspicion that Apple could be about to take litigious action against many such services, although the patent would still need to stand up to legal scrutiny.