Apple has won a patent for a removable iPhone case that cuts down on background noise.
Touting what the company is calling a “windscreen” design, the concept aims to reduce distracting sounds picked up by the device’s microphone that may make it hard to hear a phone conversation.
“The windscreen is designed to reduce wind noise, air blasts, vocal plosives and other noise,” Apple said in its patent application. “This may enable the speech of a user of the device to remain intelligible despite the presence of such noise during a call, and without requiring the user to shout into the device’s microphone.”
Although the patent was filed on Jan. 11, 2011, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office approved the application last week. The patent is good for all portable electronic devices that enable users to participate in a real-time two-way conversation.
As shown in the image above, device calls for a windscreen sealed across an opening of the case that aligns with a microphone port built into the device (number 11). This would allow the passage of sound to go through the internal microphone and not pick up surrounding sound.
It is unknown if and when Apple will launch the windscreen case. Meanwhile, since the patent was filed before the launch of the current iPhone 4S and judging by the rendering, it looks like the iPhone will stay the same shape and size for some time.
“Handheld mobile communications devices, particularly mobile phones, have enabled users to engage in real-time two-way conversations while walking, running, riding in a car or during other activities,” Apple noted. “In a number of these situations, a user may be conducting a conversation in a noisy environment, such as outside in the wind or inside a moving car with its window down.”
Would you buy a noise-reducing removable iPhone case? Let us know in the comments.
Apple’s smart bike concept is like the Nike+ running system, but for those on two wheels. In addition to seeing pertinent data from you (heart rate, etc.) and the bike (speed, distance, etc.) on your iPod or iPhone, the system could be used as a tool for group communication when biking with others.
Is gesture control the next big thing to follow touch? It seems Apple might think so with this patent for the Apple TV that sees the home entertainment gadget shipped with a Wiimote-like motion controller. Besides managing the on-screen cursor via movement, the “remote wand” could be used to browse through and control media.
Apple has come up with a way — in theory anyway — of adding solar tech to its portable devices without spoiling the all-important aesthetics. By integrating the photocells into the touchscreen, future iPods, iPads and iPhones could soak up the power of the sun via their displays, making for greener gadgetry.
This clever concept gives the desktop PC iPad-esque functionality. While the monitor is upright, it’s a common iMac running Apple’s full operating system controlled with a mouse, but flip it horizontally and it switches to the iOS and the touch controls take over.
Chances are your iPhone has already replaced your compact camera, MP3 player and handheld gaming console, but Apple could take the convergence a step further and replace your keys. The Cupertino company has patented the idea that your iPhone could unlock your car and home with a proximity-based PIN code system.
This is one patent we could definitely see coming to market. Apple has designed a Bluetooth headset with standalone media playback functionality. This could well be a future version of the iPod Shuffle — small, wearable and, thanks to the Bluetooth features, multi-tasking.
How would you like to be able to beam your latest App Store download to a buddy? Apple has come up with the idea of an “application seed” system whereby developers could choose to make their apps shareable via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. It’s a fantastic concept for content providers who are looking to spread the word as far and wide as possible. Additionally, trial version options could be a great word-of-mouth money maker.
If you want to relive that last level of Mass Effect that you aced, Apple might offer a way to do so in the future. This unusual patent allows you to describe your progress through a video game, record it, and then turn it into a book or e-book in comic style.
iPhotography is hot, and its potential is limited only by hardware restrictions. Although Apple has steadily improved the iPhone’s camera, it’s still just a point-and-shooter. This patent describes a way of enhancing a portable device’s camera functionality with a magnetic zoom or macro lens attachments.
This exciting idea could see future Apple laptops coming with built-in projectors. Just think how handy it would be to be able to share what’s on your laptop screen — whether that’s a movie or a presentation — with a group of others at the click of a mouse.
Ever dreamed your TV could mirror exactly what you’re looking at on your iPad without having to connect it physically? That dream is closer to becoming reality thanks to a new Kickstarter project called Airbridge.
Airbridge is a hardware add-on for Apple devices that will allow you to stream whatever is on your gadget screen via wireless. All you will have to do, according to the creators, is plug the dongle to your iPad or iPhone and snap the base to the TV and the two devices will automatically connect to each other. No need to deal with cables; no need to set up or configure anything. Airbridge will even create a Wi-Fi network if needed. The goal is seamless and completely effortless plug-and-play.
“We want technology to play effortlessly well with other technology,” says the project’s Kickstarter page. “We want it to act like a silent servant — reliable, durable, and making lives easier, and in a way that’s not frustrating, unnecessarily difficult or complicated to use.”
The applications for a device like this are endless. It could be used to give Powerpoint presentations, saving you the trouble of connecting your computer to the TV or the projector. Actually, you don’t need those, either. Via Wi-Fi, Airbridge will allow you to share your presentation to other iOS devices that have the Airbridge App installed. Those users will also be able to take notes, snap screenshots and even record video.
Once Airbridge is plugged into your iOS device, you will be able to easily share files via drag-and-drop to other devices in a 40-foot range.
Airbridge could be a powerful entertainment tool, too. You will be able to stream movies and video games with no loss of quality with a resolution of up to 1080p, its creators say.
Airbridge will come in two versions: Lite and Pro. The Pro version will give users more connectivity options and better network capabilities.
Launched on Wednesday by a Utah-based group of technology enthusiasts called Artifex Touch, Airbridge has already raised more than $20,000. With 43 days to go, it could be hard to reach its ambitious goal of $500,000 (at this pace, it will only raise around $300,000). The creators explain in the Kickstarter page that they will use the money to finish developing the app, improve the prototype they’ve already built and work out other details. Even though they acknowledge that all this work “sounds like a mouth full,” they promise they can deliver in four months.
Watch the video above to see what Airbridge will be capable of doing.
Do you think this is a useful project? Are you excited about its applications? Tell us what you think in the comments below.
Sony’s Project Morpheus virtual reality headset, on display during the 2014 Game Developers Conference.
Image: Mashable Chelsea Stark
When Sony announced that it is developing its own virtual reality system, the gaming world’s dreams came one step close to a retail reality.
Sony showed off its Project Morpheus headset to developers and press during the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco on Wednesday, and Mashable spent some quality time checking it out.
Oculus Rift, the only other virtual reality alternative, came out with a second-generation version on Wednesday. The two have stark differences and striking similarities.
Four years in the making
Sony’s research and development team has been working on Project Morpheus since 2010. While the developer kit we saw at the booths doesn’t necessarily represent the retail product, it’s clear Sony took its time.
The Morpheus headset is covered in blue lights that make it feel futuristic, even if they don’t serve a purpose. It matches the tone of the DualShock 4 and PlayStation Move controllers precisely.
The headset fits around your head using a plastic strap that goes around the bottom of the skull, along with an elastic band on top. This plastic band solves one of the problems of Oculus Rift: easily adjusting the headset while you’re wearing it. It settled in comfortably over my eyes, and even though I only wore it for two four-minute sessions, it was light and not cumbersome. The weight was never balanced too far forward on my head and the eye cups fit easily over a pair of glasses, minimizing neck strain. When I saw photos of myself wearing the headset, I didn’t realize how far forward it had sat on my face, at least during my brief testing period.
During its first of two demos with the Morpheus, Sony showed an underwater simulation called The Deep, which puts players in shark-infested waters.
It was more of a hands-off experience, and players mostly had the option of shooting ineffective bullets at angry sharks swimming toward them — but it was a great display of the technology. The headset, which has a 1080p resolution, displayed images of the underwater world that were sharp and crisp. It was hard not to compare it to the next-generation Oculus Rift developer headset, which looked similar in graphical capability. (The OR’s previous generation only offered a resolution of 640 x 800 per eye.) There was very little motion blur, even when I moved my head quickly, and the latency seemed to clear up. This headset was easily comparable to the kits Oculus VR will send this summer to developers who preorder them.
The Morpheus’ motion tracking for the head position generally worked well, but in two demos, it required recalibration as the game lost track of my body’s position. For anyone who has used an Oculus Rift, this problem isn’t uncommon, but it’s a sign that Sony is experimenting with the same types of problems. During a simulated dive underwater, my hand — holding a DualShock 4 — stopped syncing up with where the game thought it was, so I had to hold the controller a bit strangely while finishing.
A second Morpheus demo, The Castle, had similar issues tracking my positioning. Players held two PlayStation Move motion controllers that represented their right and left hands. Moving them around and grasping objects sometimes worked perfectly, but was also prone to problems. I found some trouble grabbing and picking up weapons, as my hand seemed to pass right through them.
Still, it was good to see Sony facing some of the same problems that Oculus Rift demos have shown in the past. Virtual reality poses one of the biggest problems in gaming, and with two companies on the playing field, developers and consumers will be the ones to reap the rewards.