New Blackberry Model With Hybrid Resistive/Capacitive Touchscreen In Works?

Is RIM working on a new Blackberry model that will come with a hybrid touchscreen display technology? That indeed appears to be the case going by a recent patent application made public by the company. In the filing titled “TOUCH-SENSITIVE DISPLAY WITH CAPACITIVE AND RESISTIVE TOUCH SENSORS AND METHOD OF CONTROL”, RIM describes a touchscreen technology that will detect whether the touch input carries characteristics of a capacitive or resistive input and will perform functions based on these inputs.

The patent application reads,

“When the force applied to the touch-sensitive display exceeds the force threshold that causes the resistive touch sensors to contact each other, a touch is detected via the resistive touch-sensitive overlay and the resistive touch-sensitive controller. The resistive location of the touch is determined utilizing the resistive touch sensors of the resistive touch-sensitive overlay. The resistive touch sensors effectively determine the center of the force of the touch. The force threshold that causes the resistive touch sensors to contact each other is known.

The capacitive touch-sensitive overlay includes capacitive touch sensors separated by a barrier. The overlay may also include a substrate, a ground shield, a barrier on which one of the capacitive touch sensors is disposed, and a cover disposed on the other capacitive touch sensor.”

RIM Touchscreen

While this definitely sounds like an interesting technology, I wonder if there is any use case for such a device. What do you think?


Counting Ad Impressions On Mobile Devices – New Google Patent Application Tells Us How

Unlike traditional computing devices, internet browsing on mobile devices are different – you only zoom and view sections of a webpage that you want to see. While that works fine for most part, advertisers who pay ad networks on an impression basis may lose out considering that the mobile phone user may have skipped the advertisement section altogether.

So how should it work? A Google patent application made public last week tells us how. In the application, the engineers explain the process of using “display thresholds” as a metric to ascertain if an advertiser should be charged for an impression or not. The application reads,

“An impression is determined to have occurred if a display of an advertisement in the viewport exceeds certain display thresholds so that the advertisement is likely to be discernible to a user of the device. These display thresholds can include, for example, the percentage of the advertisement displayed in the viewport of the device and the zoom level of the viewport (or scale of the viewport). The display thresholds can also include the duration with which the advertisement is displayed in the viewport.”

It is not clear if Google already makes use of this metric on their advertisements. Nevertheless, this is an interesting exercise that should make mobile-advertising all the more attractive to advertisers.

Apple Gadgets

New iPod Nano Controls To Offer Tap-Based Navigation

The latest generation iPod nano comes with a refreshing new form factor that is without any physical controls. While that does make the device look more slick, one major issue that regular iPod users face is the new need to look up at the device while using the controls. This is unlike the earlier devices where the user could use the controls without having to look at the device; thanks to the tactile physical buttons.

That could change with the next generation model – or perhaps even via a software update. Apple is reported to have filed a patent application that will bring a tap-based navigation system to iPod nano that will let users perform regular functions like Play, Pause, Forward, Rewind,etc. with just repetitive taps.

iPod nano multitouchWhile the patent does not explicitly mention the use of these controls for iPod nano, the rendition of a use-case does use a current generation iPod nano without the physical volume buttons.

Apple Software and Apps

Share iPhone Apps Between Users Soon With Application Seeds

You may soon be able to share iPhone apps between friends using a feature called ‘application seed‘. Apple has filed a patent application for such a feature that the inventors think will bring more word-of-mouth publicity to the application.

Unfortunately, this iPhone app-sharing functionality will not mean you can save money by trying out the app purchased by a friend. Instead, this feature will merely transfer a trial version of the original app to the recipient. Worse, the developer can also choose to instead send a link to the App Store to the recipient.

iPhone app sharing patent

The patent application delves further on the aspect of word-of-mouth marketing noting that the recipient may in turn be able to share the demo version of the app or the App Store link to more users. The sharing is seemingly possible over Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.

Apple Mobile

Next Generation iPhone To Feature Enhanced Image Processing Features?

Apple is learned to have filed a number of patent applications that are targeted at enhancing the functionalities available on the iPhone camera. The United States Patent office makes filed patents public on a weekly basis and this week alone, we have seven camera related patent applications being made available in the public database.

The patent applications primarily focus on enhanced image processing capabilities of the iPhone camera. These enhancements include the ability to correct blurry photos, masking skin tones and a patent to reduce radially-based chroma noise.

Check out : Slideshow of iPhone Camera Patents

This development is significant considering the enhancements that Apple has incorporated in its latest version of iPhone as well. You would remember that iPhone 4 comes with a 5-Megapixel camera and supports the capture of High Dynamic Range photos. With new features as those mentioned in the patent, Apple could be looking at not only taking on rivals in the smartphone segment, but also digital camera manufacturers.

Apple Gadgets

Next Generation iPad To Have Lighter Carbon-Fiber Exterior?

Apple, or for that matter most of the technology companies, file a number of patents on a variety of things just to be sure that the competitors don’t get there first. And probably on that line of thought, Apple is learned to have filed a new patent application that could bring a carbon-fiber pane to the next generation iPad.

The patent, titled “Reinforced Device Housing” talks about an external housing for an electronic device that is made with “layered fiber-in-matrix type material” that could possibly make the casing lighter while also providing better protection from cracks.

Of course, this is just a patent application and may not end up being incorporated on the real device anytime soon. But looking at the utilities that this new casing brings to the table, chances that we may actually see this in an upcoming iPad are pretty good.

Google Web

Google Wins Patent To Display Thumbnails Beside Results

Google has been awarded a patent for search engines to display “visual cues” alongside results that the engine deems relevant. In the patent application, filed way back in 2003, the company has noted that their search engine algorithm may determine the relevancy of particular results based on their click-through rates besides several other parameters and may choose to display a visual cue – a thumbnail – beside the result in order to make it easier for the user to find the particular result.

Google has elaborated on the application using an example search for “Stanford“. The result page, shown below, displays a thumbnail of the website beside the link and notes this as a visual cue. The patent is however not specific to website screenshots and could hence possibly include other forms of visual cues like images, logos,etc.

Google thumbnail patent

Depending on how this is interpreted, Bing could be at risk here. Like Google, Bing too makes use of images alongside results for certain results. Here is an example screenshot of search results for “PGA Tour” on Bing as well as Google.

Google thumbnail patentGoogle Thumbnail patent

Of course, one may argue that the logo in this case is displayed alongside the realtime results and not against the PGA website. But then, this is a grey area that can still be debated. What do you think? Has Google got one more patent to potentially sue Microsoft?

Gadgets Microsoft

Microsoft Building Touch-Sensitive Keyboard With Dynamically Updating Keys

Microsoft could be working on a new kind of physical keyboard that will render different set of keys depending on the application that the user is working on. For example, a user who wants to play a two-player racing game does not need to use the W-A-S-D set of keys to navigate. Instead, these keys could dynamically change to display the various arrows on launching the gaming application. Similarly, the keys on the keyboard can also suitably change when the user launches a word processing document or a spreadsheet.

Microsoft Dynamically Updated Keyboard

These innovations are described in a patent application filed by Microsoft in April last year which has been made public only today.  In the application, Microsoft also notes that these keys shall be touch-sensitive in order to enable easy toggling between the various display alternatives. For instance, to change the display of a key from “q” to “Q”, the user may simply touch the key and gesture a slide-up (as shown in the picture below).

Microsoft Touch Keyboard

The patent application also describes the way such a keyboard will operate. The application notes,

“A light source 210 may be disposed within body 202 of adaptive input device 200. A light delivery system 212 may be positioned optically between light source 210 and a liquid crystal display 218 to deliver light produced by light source 210 to liquid crystal display 218. Light provided by light source 210 may be internally reflected within the optical waveguide. A reflective surface 214 may direct the light provided by light source 210, including the internally reflected light, through light exit surface 240 of the optical waveguide to a light input surface 242 of liquid crystal display 218.

The liquid crystal display 218 is configured to receive and dynamically modulate light produced by light source 210 to create a plurality of display images that are respectively projected onto the plurality of depressible keys, touch regions, or background areas (i.e., key images, touch images and/or background images). “

Microsoft LCD Touch Keyboard

I’m not sure how popular such a keyboard shall be compared to the present day ones. Nevertheless, this is an interesting technology that is worth keeping track of. You can check out the USPTO documents by clicking here.

Update: Nick Eaton from SeattlePi points me to this link about Microsoft’s Adaptive Keyboard. Check out a video demo of this interesting product.

Gadgets Gaming Sony

Play PS2 Games On PS3 With New Backward Compatibility Plug

Do you hate it when you are not able to play some games from your PlayStation 2 on the new PS 3? Sony is learned to be working on a new device that could be plugged into your PS that will let the device emulate the older machine and thus let you play games from your older consoles on the new PlayStation.

In the new patent filed with the Japanese patent office, the company describes a “removable adapter” that can be plugged into a “next generation device” that will help it to emulate the games from the older generation model. It is not clear if PlayStation 3 is already loaded with sufficient infrastructure to effect the emulation though. It is more likely for a future PlayStation model to bring with it the technology needed to support this emulation with the current PS 3. Nevertheless, we will hope the backward compatibility will extend to the older Sony PlayStation 2 models as well.

Playstation backward compatibility


Facebook Wins Patent For Click-Behavior Based Search Engine Algorithm

Facebook has been awarded the patent for a click-behavior based search engine application. The United States Patent & Trademark office has today approved a patent application titled “Ranking search results based on the frequency of clicks on the search results by members of a social network who are within a predetermined degree of separation“. The application was filed by Facebook back in 2004 and has been awarded only recently.

The patent describes a search engine ranking algorithm that is based on popularity of websites among the users’ peer group. The patent reads,

“The invention provides still another technique to improve the relevance of search results. According to an embodiment of the invention, search results, including sponsored links and algorithmic search results, are generated in response to a query, and are ranked based on the frequency of clicks on the search results by members of social network who are within a predetermined degree of separation from the member who submitted the query. The predetermined degree of separation is equal to one if the click activities of only the friends of the member who submitted the query are to be examined. “

While this patent may no longer be relevant to current Facebook’s business strategies considering that the company sees more revenues coming from outsourcing the search feature to partners like Bing, it will be interesting to see how this patent will affect search engine players like Google who are likely to have such click-behavior analysis incorporated into their search engine ranking algorithm.

Facebook Search Algo

Curiously enough, the patent does not name Mark Zuckerberg as one of the inventors. The patent is filed in the name of Christopher Lunt, Nicholas Galbreath, Jeffrey Winner.