Trolling Apple’s Patents

Apple is a notoriously secretive company. But it can’t hide public filings such as patent applications. Adam L. Penenberg takes a look below at recent examples that may shed light on Steve Jobs’s next move. After all, an Apple patent published in March 2005, “Handheld electronic device with multiple touch sensing devices” (#20060197750), telegraphed today’s iPhone.

Multimedia Control Center

A method to operate “a main menu of a media control center” consisting of a “plurality of media icons.” In other words, it could be the underpinnings to the elusive universal remote that would control all the functions of your home infotainment experience. And no doubt, it’ll have a touch screen.


Portable Media Delivery System

Designed to make the iPod, iPhone, and other media devices work in conjunction with other Apple and non-Apple products. Users could place a remote control in a special dock in a car, boat, or home, and play music and movies–even at 60 mph.

Force Imaging Input Device and System

Two of the three inventors listed on the original touch-screen patent (Steven P. Hotelling and Brian Q. Huppi) are back to improve on it. This iteration would be pressure-sensitive.

RFID Network Arrangement

“A system for automatic configuration and authentication of network devices.” It’s supposed to make it simpler (and more secure) to set up wireless networks. But the presence of RFID tags means it could also track iPhone (and iTouch) users’ where abouts. Can you say “targeted advertising”? Apple board member (and Google CEO) Eric Schmidt sure can.


About the author

Adam L. Penenberg is a journalism professor at New York University and author of several books