Patent Search

December 3, 2013, by Mandour & Associates, APC

San Diego – A series of five patents filed on November 21st reveal Apple’s potential plans to include liquidmetal in its products.  Though the five patents leave it somewhat difficult to ascertain exactly what type of product would come out of the claims, two of the filings clearly have to do with 3-D printing methods for electronic devices.  The applications do not come as a shock to Apple enthusiasts, who were gripped by a 2012 rumor that the new iPhone might utilize liquidmetal technology.  While that rumor did not manifest in the iPhone 5s, it is now a fact that Apple is at least heavily considering implementing the material in future products.

Created in the early 2000s by a research team at the California Institute of Technology, liquidmetal is a unique form of amorphous metal alloy.  It is similar to plastic in that it cools fast and is very strong, with more than double the strength of titanium alloy.  Adding to its appeal, despite its durability, liquidmetal is flexible, lending it a unique ability to be molded into very thin shapes while remaining sturdy.

The Silicon Valley tech producer known for its simplistic designs and user friendly devices turned heads in 2010 when it signed a contact with California-based Liquidmetal Technologies.  Since then, speculation has run high that Apple would be the first to create a modern-looking smartphone made out of liquidmetal. Given that liquidmetal is more lightweight and less expensive than the metal currently used to make iPhones, it is an enticing possibility.

According to the actual patent filings, liquidmetal might be used to create new Apple products through 3-D printing and injection molding methods, which could be a cheaper alternative to the current practice of creating prototypes and using machining processes to stamp out finished products.  The first filing is entitled “Layer-by-Layer Construction with Bulk Metallic Glasses” and seems to provide the most insight into the creation of new products using liquid metal.  The other four, respectively titled “Layer-by-Layer Construction with Bulk Metallic Glasses”, “Amorphous Alloy Component or Feedstock and Methods of Making the Same”, “Bulk Metallic Glass Feedback with Dissimilar Sheath” and “Manipulating Surface Topology of BMG Feedstock” are much more technical and seem to focus on more specialized applications of the liquidmetal technology.

October 29, 2013, by Mandour & Associates, APC

San Diego – A new patent filed in Korea reveals what seems to be Samsung’s plan to rival the soon-to-be released Google Glass.  The patent, which was filed with the Korean Intellectual Property Office by Samsung Electronics Co.  shows glasses which communicate with a smartphone.  It was filed on March 8, 2013 and describes the device as, “sports glasses,” which will have the capability to let users listen to music and take phone calls through built in earphones.  Similar to Google’s product, Samsung’s will also allow for browsing of the internet on a small display screen on the eyeglasses’ lens.

In the months since Google announced the planned introduction of its Glass product, there has been wide speculation about how rival Samsung would react.  Until now, there was virtually no clue left by the Korean based company as to whether it was working on a competing electronic glasses product.   With the new filing, however, it is obvious that the tech giant is putting its own horse in the smart glasses race.

While Samsung’s new “sports glasses” appear to be a definite attempt to rival Google Glass, several differences between the two products are noticeable from the patent filing.  First, unlike Google Glass, Samsung’s device features wires on both sides, which connect at the back of the wearer’s head.  Next, while Google Glass features its display screen on the right lens, the Samsung product has its display on the left.  In its patent filing, Samsung makes more than a passing mention about how the new device will be targeted for use in sporting and outdoor activities.  While Google Glass has already been marketed as a sort of universally useful device akin to a wearable mobile phone, Samsung may be looking to set itself apart by making its new device an athletic accessory.

Outside of these differences, however, the essence of the two products is the same.  Both are efforts to take everyday devices, such as watches and eyeglasses, and make them “smart.”  Both Samsung’s “sports glasses” and Google Glass look like futuristic sunglasses with a minimalist design:  a wraparound style with a skinny metal band and clear frameless lenses.  How it all pans out for these two big names will largely depend on how the consumer market reacts to the emerging product field of wearable electronics and how the devices will fit into our everyday lives.

May 24, 2012, by Mandour & Associates, APC

San Diego – According to recent filings with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Sony has applied for a patent for a correction to its existing Glasses-Free 3-D technology.

Industry experts have historically agreed that the success of Autostereoscopic 3-D technology has been dependent on the viewer’s angle and distance from the viewing screen. Sony, one of the leaders in the 3-D television market, was one of the first mainstream companies to release its 3-D technology toward that end in 2010. 3-D television technology that did not require viewing glasses was unveiled not long after that. However, critics quickly noted problems with 3-D display images that included blurring, image distortion and a less than optimal view when the viewer wasn’t lined up to a precise and exact distance and angle.

Past limitations of 3-D technology without glasses were a result of a fixed arrangement of lenses that did not allow for adjustment that would separate the images as needed. Essentially, the viewer was often in the wrong place for viewing the images. In particular, depending on how near or far the viewer was from the screen, the depth of picture could easily be over or under-exaggerated. As a result of these imaging issues, the viewer could end up with headaches or nausea in extreme cases. The new technology proposed by the current Sony patent involves a correction that would enable the device to detect the viewer’s distance from the screen and automatically adjust the separation of images to provide optimal viewing clarity and sharpness of picture.

The new Sony patent includes both the image processing methodology and the corresponding entertainment system for image display. Additionally, Sony’s new technology would shift image elements in either or both the left and right eye images while viewing the Glasses-Free 3-D images. This shift would alter viewing displacements and create a point of intersection of lines of sight between the viewer and his or her image elements. The result would be a depth separation of image elements, creating the same effect as if the viewer had been viewing images at the ideal distance and angle.