One of the key innovation that Microsoft developed with the launch of Windows Phone 7 was the camera key that can be used even when the mobile device is locked.
Mobile devices with cameras often have a locked mode to prevent accidental or unauthorized access to the device. However, in many situations it is desirable to capture a photograph or video without needing to unlock a mobile device (e.g., by using a key combination, entering a personal identification number (PIN), or using fingerprint recognition) in order to quickly and spontaneously “capture the moment.”
Today, all leading mobile operating systems like iOS and Android have emulated this same functionality in one way or the other. Recently, we came across that Microsoft has now applied for a patent for this process.
If Microsoft gets this patent approved, they will add this patent to the list of 300 or more patents that Android devices already violates. Read the abstract after the break.
We are pretty sure Microsoft is working on augmented reality smart glasses, with a number of patents already published for the device, and of Microsoft’s purchasing of Osterhout Design Group’s virtual reality patents for $150 million.
Microsoft has continued to work on cool applications for the unannounced and unreleased device.
The latest to pop up is a patent application for a WEARABLE BEHAVIOR-BASED VISION SYSTEM which takes augmented reality a step further.
Not only will the system recognize real world objects, but it will also assess and predict their behaviour e.g. it would recognize cars and the direction in which they are moving, overlaying this on the display and alerting users of threats or obstacles.
The US Patent Office has just published a new patent application by Microsoft for a feature which they call a “personal cloud of mobile tasks”.
The personal cloud has nothing to do with internet servers and storage, but is rather a “cloud” of commonly performed tasks which appear on the user interface, making it quick and easy for users to repeat them.
Examples would be opening up a particular app or calling a particular contact.
The “cloud” would adapt and grow and change its presentation and content based on context, the time of the day or the day of the week amongst others, with the floating icons becoming bigger or smaller dependent on how likely you are to use them e.g. on the weekend the Pizza icon may be larger because you often call for pizza on the weekend, but never during the week.
It is not clear if Microsoft intends to implement this feature, which they first started working on in 2008, but one can easily imagine this being built into the task switching button or Cortana.
See the full patent here.
Microsoft may be gearing up once again to make more money from IP licensing than actual device sales, as they gather more patents relevant to smart watches while not shipping any, while their main opponent Google gets ready to churn out a whole flotilla of smart arm bands.
Their latest two patents is for Discreetly Displaying Contextually Relevant Information on a display device, with a smart watch being used on most occasions, with information being transmitted wirelessly from a smartphone.
As can be seen from the illustrations, the information can include simple notifications, but also more interactive and information-rich information such as GPS Navigation directions.
Another new patent is for a Dynamic User Interfaces Adapted to Inferred User Contexts.
While we still have to see the results of their efforts, Microsoft is strongly rumoured to be working on various wearables, including a biometric health and fitness band.
Now it seems Microsoft, no doubt taking some inspiration from Nokia’s Morph design, has taken their efforts one step further, into the field of wearable computers, with a flexible smartphone-like device which can be worn around the wrist like a bracelet, and then straightened out and used like a phone or tablet.
The device will also integrate biometrics, and react to input from that source. The biometric sensors may include heart rate sensors, blood/oxygen sensors, accelerometers, thermometers or other type of sensor that obtains biometric information from a user . The biometric information may identify muscle contractions of the arm and/or movement of the arm or other appendage of user. Microsoft Research has earlier shown how a wrist-worn bracelet will be able to read finger positions and allow users to type without an actual keyboard.
Earlier today, we reported that Chinese Ministry of Commerce has approved Nokia’s sale of Devices and Services division to Microsoft. Nokia specifically mentioned that Chinese Ministry of Commerce didn’t approve the deal on any specific conditions. On the other side, Microsoft today revealed that they have made set of commitments the Chinese Ministry of Commerce regarding patents. During the investigation to approve this deal, MOFCOM concluded that Microsoft holds approximately 200 patent families that are necessary to build an Android smartphone. Basically, Microsoft has committed that they will license all standard essential patents to others on FRAND terms.
MOFCOM’s approval is based on a set of commitments which we’ve discussed with MOFCOM during the past few months. There was an important principle with which MOFCOM approached these discussions from the beginning: any commitments should be focused on how our future conduct might change after we own the Nokia Devices and Services business, and should not impact our licenses signed in the past or historical practices. It has never been our intent to change our practices after we acquire the Nokia business, so while we disagreed with the premise that our incentives might change in the future, we were happy to discuss commitments on this basis.
You can read the English version of the commitments is here.
Nokia has applied for a patent which would allow for files such as music and other media to be transferred simply by swiping above the phone in the direction of the intended receiver.
The phone would detect the the gestures and position of the receiving device primarily via a capacitive field, but the patent notes infra-red or cameras or a variety of other sensors could be used.
The ideas may appear farfetched and unlikely to end up in a real device, but readers will recall that the Nokia Moneypenny was supposed to feature a “3D Touch” system, which was believed to be a gesture-based system which would allow users to scroll the web browser or move to the next music track merely by moving their hand above the screen.
Is this a gimmick our readers can get behind? Let us know below.
Thanks Adrian for the tip.
We have heard that Nokia intends to go into the wearables market after divesting itself from its handset division.
The biggest issue there is battery life, due to the difficulty of fitting a large battery into a small enclosure.
Making the battery flexible, so it can conform to the shape of the device, such as a wrist band, is one way to increase the size, and Nokia has patented a new, novel method of achieving that.
Strangely just when the deal between Microsoft and Nokia should be nearing completion opposition appears only to be growing.
After Chinese OEMs complained of potential patent abuse, a Korean trade association has raised the same issue, reports BusinessKorea.
Korea Electronics Association (KEA) submitted a petition to the Fair Trade Commission (FTC) on March 7 with the Korea Software Industry Association, the Korea Semiconductor Industry Association, and the Korea Battery Industry Association, claiming that Microsoft is likely to keep Korean manufacturers in check by means of Nokia’s patents.
Korean companies are particularly concerned over the possibility of Nokia turning itself into a patent troll through the acquisition because the deal would turn Nokia into a non-practicing entity they would be free to enforce patent cases without any possibility of retaliation.
“As a mobile phone maker, Nokia rarely exercised its patent rights because of its cross-licensing with Samsung Electronics, Apple and the like, but now it can launch patent lawsuits or demand an increase in royalties without any limitation,” said KEA lawyer Hwang Eun-jeong, adding, “At the same time, Microsoft can expand its mobile phone business while keeping Samsung and Apple at bay by utilizing Nokia as a sort of cannon fodder.”
“The FTC needs to look deeply into the possible impact from the acquisition,” the KEA explained, continuing, “We also suggested an approval on condition of Microsoft’s acquisition of not only the business unit but also its patents.”
The deal has already won approvals in the US and Europe in December 2013. The FTC is carrying out the examination in Korea.
Microsoft has applied for patents for two key features in Windows Phone platform. The first one in the unified calling experience where any 3rd party app can use phone’s calling UX with its own branding. The second one is the Kids Corner feature that allows you to create a new section in your phone specifically for kids that is isolated from the actual phone contents.
UNIFIED USER EXPERIENCE FOR MOBILE CALLS
Google announced Google Voice back in 2009 which gives you one number for all your phones, voicemail as easy as email, free US long distance, low rates on international calls, and many calling features. A recent patent application from Microsoft describes the same feature where a universal phone number is provided for a user with fixed line, mobile line, and internet communication methods. Microsoft already owns a great universal communication tool called Skype through which hundreds of millions of users make audio and video calls everyday. Any integration with Skype and this universal number concept should attract many users. Read the patent abstract below.
In a press release Nokia announced HTC and the Nordic company have agreed to settle all outstanding patent litigation and enter into a a patent and technology collaboration agreement.
While some are painting the announcement as a peace settlement, the truth is that it is more of a capitulation on HTC’s part, as noted by the fact that HTC will be paying Nokia undisclosed fees.
HTC will also be sharing its own LTE patents with Nokia, which should help ensure Nokia’s Advanced Technology division remains relevant in the years to come. The full terms of the agreement are confidential.
“We are very pleased to have reached a settlement and collaboration agreement with HTC, which is a long standing licensee for Nokia’s standards essential patents,” said Paul Melin, chief intellectual property officer at Nokia. “This agreement validates Nokia’s implementation patents and enables us to focus on further licensing opportunities.”
Nokia has already won regular patent royalty payments from Apple, and HTC’s eventual surrender was inevitable, after losing 4 infringement cases in a row against Nokia.
“Nokia has one of the most preeminent patent portfolios in the industry,” said Grace Lei, General Counsel of HTC. “As an industry pioneer in smartphones with a strong patent portfolio, HTC is pleased to come to this agreement, which will enable us to stay focused on innovation for consumers.”
The companies also agreed to explore future technology collaboration opportunities.
See the press release here.
We reported recently on Nokia’s string of patent infringement wins against HTC, noting that it seemed time for HTC to take out a royalty bearing license, just like Apple did 3 years ago.
It seems HTC has decided to go a harder route, and in a filing at the Taiwan Stock Exchange on Saturday said:
“We are investigating modifications for our handsets to remove this redundant technology.”
HTC anticipates the change will cause minimal disruption to their customers.
Of course the real problem with trying to design around Nokia’s patents is the depth of Nokia’s portfolio, making it rather likely something else will pop up that HTC is infringing on.
Our message to HTC – you might as well pay the piper.
Via ZDNet.com, thanks Tom for the tip.