April 28, 2006 11:47 AM PDT

Virtual keyboard tops Apple patent requests

Apple Computer has filed patents for a "smart" touch-screen virtual keyboard, a two-way screen and technology that enables an iPod and host device to wirelessly operate as one.

One recently published patent covers a new method for "activating virtual keys of a touch-screen virtual keyboard."

The virtual keyboard learns which keys are touched more often than others and adjusts the sensitivity of each key accordingly. Certain keys are given more weight over others, depending on the likelihood of the person pressing one key over another. That likelihood is determined by the person's distance of touch from the closest key, as well as frequency of use.

The keyboard would assume, for example, that someone who frequently types the name "Vin" did not mean to type the word "fin" given the close proximity of the "v" and "f" keys on a QWERTY keyboard.

Another patent essentially turns an iPod (referred to as a "personal media device" within the patent) into a remote control for another host device such as a TV or computer. The host device can be used as a monitor that reflects what is happening on the iPod screen.

The patent also says that the technology enables wireless transfer of digital media between the two devices.

In January, a patent for a screen that displays what it sees was also published with Apple as the assignee. The patent describes a screen-camera combo for video conferencing or use in the medical community.

"A panel created from an integrated, embedded macro CCD would thus be able to both display and record visual information simultaneously, without the use of an external video capture device. Simply put, the same panel could display a video conference while also recording the participant sitting in front of it," the patent says.

According to the patent, the two-way screen enables video conference participants to make eye contact remotely.

Apple representatives were not immediately available for comment.

See more CNET content tagged:
patent, videoconferencing, Apple Computer, key, keyboard

4 comments

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copying microsoft?
Interestingly, the patent has curved keyboard similar to microsofts
origami projects... wonder who came up with it first :)
Pictures of the patent are here:
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://hrmpf.com/wordpress/74/apple-virtual-keyboard-copying-" target="_newWindow">http://hrmpf.com/wordpress/74/apple-virtual-keyboard-copying-</a>
ms-origami-or-vice-versa/
Posted by hrmpf (1 comment )
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Not a copy from MS
In the comments someone states : "microsofts looks just like
Dial Keys which already comes loaded on Fujitsus P1510".

Its a complete qwerty keyboard, MS did not invent it and there is
a extra patent for a different visual layout vs touch layout. It
looks good to me, bring it on Apple :-)
Posted by Peter Bonte (316 comments )
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Finally: Apple patrents FTP!
The patent on "method" to transfer images or other kinds of media files shows absolutely nothing new or unobvious. It claims monopoly on designating files to be transfered between computers if one of the computers happens to be named a "media device" (because of the way it's packaged).

Designating files to be transferred between computers is not new. Automatically adjusting the format of the data to fit the characteristics of the recipient is also not new. E.g. webservers sometimes do it based on various characteristics of the client that sent an http request. So the only "new" thing here is that one of the computers involved in the file transfer is called "a portable media device", and has computing capabilities and packaging that agree with what the public perceives as such a device (i.e., much more than the computing capabilities of a mainframe from 3 decades ago, but smaller packaging).

So the patent claims begin with a fallacy, claiming that PDAs, Media players, cellphones etc. are all different kinds of devices (so making one of them do something some of the others did in the past is an innovation. But in fact they are all exactly the same kind of device: a universal computer. The only differences are in unused capabilities of the universal computer embedded within the package. The decision to use certain abilities and not others is just a business decision of adjusting costs vs. expected income. Apple's decision to use a different subset of the existing capabilities is not an invention, and not even a business method. It's just a change in design, and shouldn't have been granted a patent.
Posted by hadaso (468 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Not Patents only Applications
They weren't given patents. These are simply applications and the claims will undoubtedly change.
Posted by gg4rest (5 comments )
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