updated 01:40 pm EDT, Thu July 23, 2009
One touch ejection patent
Several of Apple's patent filings have been made public; one relating to one-touch ejection for iPods and iPhones, and the other involving dual-purpose apertures. The one-touch ejection system is designed to avoid data loss if the user accidentally removes the device from the USB cable without first following the ejection prompts within iTunes.
The solution described in the patent filing utilizes sensors in the USB cable connector to detect when the user is about to pull the plug from the iPod or computer. The system would have a chance to automatically begin the ejection procedures, such as finishing read and write operations, before the plug is prematurely pulled.
The "Touch Sensor 106" integrates capacitive-sensing technology, while at least one potential embodiment enables fringing fields to detect when a finger is close but not yet on the plug. Along with quickly working to eject the device, the one-touch or proximity system could also be used to sound an audible alarm as a reminder to finish the ejection procedure from the software or wait until the automatic process has been completed.
The second filing covers a wider range of technology and potential applications, each involving dual-purpose hardware apertures. In its simplest form, the system would place a microphone or speaker inside the same opening used for a card slot. The more complex embodiments place microphones, speaker components, and flash modules all within the body of a camera.
A diagram for the aperture patent, Fig. 5, shows what appears to be a standalone camera. Small ports are shown surrounding the lens, with each potentially serving as an inlet for sound and an outlet for the flash. Although the system could be used in iPods, iPhones or Macbooks, the primary embodiment appears to be a standalone upright camera. Whether or nor Apple is currently planning a foray into the camera market remains unknown.