New Blackberry Handset With Rotating Numeric/QWERTY Keyboards

A new patent from Research in Motion has made its way to the public domain that shows the company’s development work on a new Blackberry phone that comes with a separate  numeric keypad and a QWERTY keyboard. The form factor of this device is difficult to explain. The engineers who have filed the patent explain that this model of the phone is to offer an easy way to use the keyboard and keypad in both the landscape and portrait formats. They write,

“In a first aspect, a handheld electronic device, such as a smartphone, has a first device member and a second device member that are connected via a connector. The second device member is rotatable about a rotation axis that is canted relative to an axis of the second device member. As a result, when the second device member is rotated between a first position and a second position, its orientation changes. This may facilitate, for example, switching the handheld electronic device between a text entry mode and a telephone mode. “

Here are a few images from the patent application that could give you an idea of what the device will actually look like.

Blackberry PatentBlackberry PatentBlackberry Patent

This does not effectively mean a new Blackberry phone with such a form factor is coming soon since the patent application was filed early last year.

Tweetie ‘Drag To Refresh’ Feature Patented Just 1 Day Before Twitter Acquisition

Tweetie from AteBits aka Loren Brichter was one of the most popular Twitter clients for the iPhone before it was acquired by Twitter and was relaunched as the official Twitter client for iPhone. Among the several cool features on Tweetie was this simple ‘drag to refresh‘ functionality. Basically, this feature allowed users to simply tap and swipe a downward gesture in order for the client to refresh the Twitter timeline.

It now appears that Loren Brichter had sought to patent this idea as founder of Atebits. The date the patent was filed is interesting – April 8, 2010. That’s just a day before Twitter officially announced (on April 9th) that they were acquiring Tweetie. The patent is of course filed in the name of Atebits and so Twitter may have agreed to purchase this patent idea as well.  But from the dates, it appears that Twitter may have waited for Brichter to have filed the patent idea before deciding to officially announce their acquisition. Any idea why?

Nevertheless, this is how Brichter explains the seemingly simple concept in his patent application

“In one arrangement, a scrollable list of content items may be displayed. Input associated with a scroll command may be received. Then, based on the scroll command, a scrollable refresh trigger may be displayed. Subsequently, the scrollable list of content items may be refreshed in response to determining, based on the scroll command, that the scrollable refresh trigger has been activated. In at least one instance, it may be determined that the scrollable refresh trigger has been activated in response to determining that the scroll command was completed while the scrollable refresh trigger was fully displayed.”

Drag to Refresh Twitter iPhone app

How Microsoft Kinect Works

By now, almost all the secrets with respect to Microsoft’s Project Natal – now known as Kinect are out. Unlike the rival motion controllers from Sony and Nintendo, Microsoft Kinect works mainly using a software called PrimeSense that detects the user movements with the help of a webcam and projects the same onto the game to track character movements on the screen. JoyStiq had a nice article that describes how the motion controller works in an article back in June this year.

Now, if you are looking to hear directly from the folks who made the system, here is a patent application filed by Microsoft that describes this webcam based technology. In this patent application, that was made public only today, Redmond makes a great description of how the whole system works,

” According to one embodiment, the gestures may be received by, for example, a capture device. For example, the capture device may capture a depth image of a scene. In one embodiment, the capture device may determine whether one or more targets or objects in the scene corresponds to a human target such as the user. To determine whether a target or object in the scene corresponds a human target, each of the targets may be flood filled and compared to a pattern of a human body model. Each target or object that matches the human body model may then be scanned to generate a skeletal model associated therewith. The skeletal model may then be provided to the computing environment such that the computing environment may track the skeletal model, render an avatar associated with the skeletal model, and may determine which controls to perform in an application executing on the computer environment based on, for example, gestures of the user that have been recognized from the skeletal model. A gesture recognizer engine, the architecture of which is described more fully below, is used to determine when a particular gesture has been made by the user. “

Microsoft Kinect

Microsoft Kinect

The patent application is a great read for those of you eager to look deeper into the technology behind one of Microsoft’s most hyped products in recent times.

Update: Interestingly, Gizmodo has just posted an article that dives deeper into the mechanics of Kinect.

New Adobe Technology Seeks To Make Rich Media Applications Search Engine Friendly

It is common for publishers to choose textual presentation of content over rich media format simply to make their content more search engine friendly. A new patent application filed by Adobe Systems back in March of this year and made public only recently describes an annotation-based functionality that will make such content discoverable by search engines.

In the application, Adobe writes (text in bold for emphasis) ,

“According to embodiments of the invention, a developer annotates portions of the procedural code of a rich Internet application to facilitate exposing particular content to a search engine. Such annotations may comprise information describing the content to be identified by a Web crawler. Additionally or alternatively, such annotations may comprise a state name, or other identifier and/or information, facilitating direct, or semi-direct, access to the identified content.”

Embodiments of the invention provide a translation module for interfacing between a Web crawler and a rich Internet application annotated according to an embodiment of the invention. For example, a translation module may interact with a Web crawler to respond to Web crawler navigation instructions and access declarative code associated with different states of a rich Internet application, providing responsive information identifying content in a structure that is compatible with a search engine associated with the Web crawler. According to embodiments of the invention, the structure of the content provided by the translation module comprises declaratory code, such as HTML page code or pseudo HTML page code.”

Adobe RIA patent application

The patent application is interesting because a successful implementation of this technology will incentivize more publishers to take the RIA format to create beautiful websites that can consequently make Apple’s war against Flash all the more difficult.

Your thoughts?

Microsoft Lays Claim To iPad’s Page Curling Feature

The Courier may be dead, but we are still getting to see the innovations built by Microsoft back when development on Courier was still in its prime. A patent application filed by Microsoft back in January 2009 describes the page curl feature – exactly the way it is implemented on the iPad’s iBooks app.

In the application, Microsoft writes,

“One or more pages are displayed on a touch display. A page-turning gesture directed to a displayed page is recognized. Responsive to such recognition, a virtual page turn is displayed on the touch display. The virtual page turn actively follows the page-turning gesture. The virtual page turn curls a lifted portion of the page to progressively reveal a back side of the page while progressively revealing a front side of a subsequent page. A lifted portion of the page is given an increased transparency that allows the back side of the page to be viewed through the front side of the page. A page-flipping gesture quickly flips two or more pages.”

Microsoft Page Curl

To be fair, virtual page curling is neither Apple’s nor Microsoft’s innovation. At least as far as I can remember, the functionality was already available on the iPhone app named Classics.

It will be interesting to see if Microsoft indeed wins rights to this subtle yet interesting feature

Amazon Awarded Patent For Original Kindle [Updated]

Amazon has been awarded close to half-a-dozen patents today. Most notably though is a patent awarded for a “Handheld electronic book reader device having dual displays” – the original Kindle

The patent describes the original Kindle where the display has two parts – one large area where the text for human consumption is displayed and another scrollable display on the side.

“A handheld electronic book reader device is equipped with dual displays. The device includes a first display for presenting visible representations of textual or graphic content related to the electronic book. The device also includes a second display positioned alongside the first display. The second display includes a plurality of graphic elements that correspond to portions of the first display. Also, the second display is responsive to user input to one of the graphic elements to perform an action on the content that is shown in the portion of the first display that corresponds to the one element.”

Amazon Kindle patent prototype

The patent application was filed way back in March 2006 and has been awarded to Amazon only today.

Microsoft Patents Courier’s Dual Display Design

Microsoft Courier may no longer be a reality. But the company has just been awarded a patent for the purported dual display design of the Courier tablet PC. Patent number D618683 describes the “ornamental design for a dual display device“.

Microsoft Courier Tablet
Microsoft Courier Tablet PC

Frankly, the design for which Microsoft has just won the proprietary rights is so generic that it could refer to any of the dual display devices that we have seen in the past. It is not clear how Microsoft intends to make use of the patent. Licensing the rights to every other company looking to make a dual display tablet is an obvious plan. But it would be great if we can still manage to see a Microsoft Courier sometime in future.

Google Maps To Undergo Minor UI Upgrade

The Google Maps and Street View could get a minor upgrade to their user interface. Currently, the navigational controls on these mapping applications appear separate from the actual image area. According to a patent application filed by Google with the US Patents & Trademark Office, the new UI could bring these controls on top of the location being viewed.

Google explains that such a change could make better use of the screen space.

“Conventional navigation controls are often located on a tool bar in the UI which is separate from the image display area. Having the navigation controls located at a different location in the UI than the imagery can consume screen space which could be otherwise used for providing additional UI functionality, advertising and the like. Moreover, having the navigation controls separate from the imagery can force the user to take their eyes off the imagery while navigating.”

The application notes that this will also improve upon one other important navigational element. Currently, users have to navigate incrementally through clicks – either on the navigational controls on the top corner of the page or by flicking through the image itself. The new controls, the patent application says, will let users to merely click on the navigational wheel to denote navigation and merely drag the cursor to various directions to see the mapping application respond appropriately.

“The user rotates imagery by clicking on any portion of the rotation control 302 and dragging the cursor to affect the rotation. The rotation control 302 allows the user to rotate smoothly in all directions without incremental stops. In some implementations, the rotation control 302 includes “sticky” points at North, South, East and West to help the user hit an exact target orientation.”

Google Maps Patent

Google maps patent application

The application was filed in March of this year and has been made public only recently.

Nintendo DS For Left Handed People

Left handed gamers do not have it easy many times. Most games and the consoles they are played on are often built with the right handed user in mind that can often be difficult for the lefties. A recently filed patent application from Nintendo has sought rights for the technology that can make their consoles left-hander friendly as well.

This is how it will work. Users shall be asked if they are left handed or right handed. Depending on the answer, the content on the display screen shall be turned by 180 degrees so that users may use their left hand instead of their right to use the controllers.

The patent reads,

“According to this first aspect, while the second control mode is set, the image data output portion outputs the image data representing an image incident on the image pick-up portion in the orientation rotated by 180 degrees as compared with the case where the first control mode is set. The image data output from the image data output portion is stored in the storage portion under the control of the storage instruction control unit. Through such processing, typically, in a manner of use where a direction in which the information processing device is held is rotated by 180 degrees for use between a right-handed user and a left-handed use”

Nintendo DS for left hand peopleNintendo DS for left handed people

[via USPTO]

Browse Web Faster On Blackberry With Prioritized Queues

Improved web browsing experience on Blackberry seems to be one of the key focus areas for Research In Motion of late. Early this year, the company filed a patent application that will speed the internet up using proxy servers.

Now, the company has filed another patent application that will possibly improve the experience even further. In the application titled “MESSAGE SEND QUEUE REORDERING BASED ON PRIORITY”, the engineers have described a technology whereby the various HTTP requests shall be reordered based on priority so that the most important information is made available to the user in as little time as possible.

It is not uncommon for users to wait long periods for a page to load simply because a Javascript or CSS file was taking an inordinately long time. The new system will reorder the priority so that the main content of the website – which is often of the order of a few kilobytes of data – can be displayed first on priority. The application explains how the process will work

“Therefore, there is a need for a method and system whereby a first device (e.g. a wireless handheld device or mobile station) may send a request to a second device (e.g. a wireless gateway server or other server) for response data having a higher priority than response data for an earlier request which is still transferring to the first device from the second device.

In accordance with an embodiment of the invention, an HTTP header for a send request is adapted to include a priority indication of the request’s relative priority (e.g.: x-rim-priority-request “priority number”). The priority indication instructs a gateway to order the response data for the request so that the response data for the request arrives at the requesting device ahead of lower priority response data that may be in the gateway’s send queue.”

Blackberry patent application for faster internet browsing

You can read the patent application in its entirety here.