updated 11:45 am EDT, Thu October 4, 2007
Touchscreen, DRM patents
The US Patent and Trademark Office today published several applications made by Apple. Among the most prominent is one titled "Force Imaging Input Device and System," consisting of multiple approaches to developing touchpads and touchscreens for various devices. One approach would have two sets of conductive traces separated by a spring membrane; another would replace the conductive traces with one sense and two drive traces. Notable about the patent is that the designs would allow inputs detecting the level of force applied, thus giving users more control options. The patent also makes reference to a notebook, suggesting that Apple may implement its patent in a future MacBook and/or its rumored subnotebook.
A separate Apple patent is entitled "Decoupling rights in a digital content unit from download," and deals with copies of DRM-protected media. The described concept would allow the creation of a second, legitimate copy of an encrypted file, assigning two separate keys to two separate users. Though not specified, this would most likely allow sharing of music and/or videos purchased from the iTunes Store, which are currently tied explicitly to the buyer's identification.
Other new patents include an architecture for adjusting the clock frequency of memory, and designs for new external USB connectors, seen below. Unusual is the the fact that two of the connectors appear to overlap portable devices resembling iPods; at the moment, no official dock or connector for a player envelops it.