Sunday, February 1, 2015

Apple's Stylus Receiver Concept Would Improve the Precision

Apple Stylus to Improve Larger iPad Model 

Recent reports reveal that Apple would be offering a simple stylus to improve a larger iPad model wherein the latest patent applications indicate a kind of improved pen based input technology which the company had been working on for some time.

In a recent filing published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, discovered by AppleInsider, disclosure of Apple’s investigation into stylus support for touchscreen devices was revealed. Entitled, `Superheterodyne Pen Stimulus Signal Receiver’, this proposed invention, indicates a device which could have unique frequency for stylus based input, which would be less than a traditional fingertip touch signal. Apple has noted in the filing, that several conventional styluses tend to have bulky tip which are made of material with a potential of interacting with touch sensitive devices where these devices are meant to match a user’s finger for compatibility with the modern touch screen.

 These are meant to be controlled with fingertips. However, Apple states that these conventional styluses, lack the precision as well as control of traditional writing instruments like a pen and paper, based on their nature. The method of Apple’s `superheterodyne receiver’ could be used which is capable of taking an input signal and converting it into another frequency.

Convert Stylus Touch Input Signals – Intermediate Frequency Signals

The technology in reality dates back to the origins of radio transmission which was developed during World War I by a U.S. soldier. All modern radio receivers, virtually utilise `superhet’ technology for the purpose of superior selectivity as well as sensitivity though in Apple’s more modern use, hardware demodulator in the device such as an iPad could convert stylus touch input signals in an intermediate frequency signal, which would be less than a traditional fingertip touch signal.

Apple would be featuring a touch sensor with potential of detecting the difference between a fingertip touch and a stylus touch thus offering more precise input. The latest patent application following a recent rumour, indicate that Apple would be launching a simple stylus together with an anticipated 12.9 inch `iPad Pro’, later this year. According to Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities, he indicates that a stylus could be more precise than a person’s fingertip0s wherein it could be a more convenient method of input than a keyboard as well as a mouse in some cases.

Featuring Basic Technology 

He further states that Apple would probably launch the stylus accessory as an optional add-on instead of including it along with the larger iPad and believes that the stylus would feature basic technology in its first execution, wherein future models could contribute more advanced features such as 3D handwriting. Apple though had publicly panned pen based input for some time, the company’s interest in stylus based input, is nothing new and the filing is just the latest of stylus concepts which the company has been manipulating behind the scenes.

The superhet stylus signal receiver concept of Apple which was published recently was first filed in October 2013, with USPTO by Apple and the credits of the proposed invention goes to Shahrooz Shahparnia who is a touch ASIC as well as a sensor architect at Apple.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Apple Watch: Novelty or Necessity

Apple’s Watch – Scheduled in Spring

The much waited Apple’s Watch is scheduled to be launched in spring and analyst firm CCS Insight firm indicate that over 40 million smartwatches together with fitness bands would be sold in 2015, primarily driven by Apple’s new device.

 Presently, the functions of the smartwatches is quite limited with most of them being used in telling the time though some would require the need to press a button or flick one’s wrist in order to activate the screen. Several of them could also be used as an extension to the smartphone enabling the user to identify the caller, read text messages as well as check on upcoming appointments.

Another interesting feature is the capabilities of tracking activity, which could include the number of steps one has taken as well as the heart rate wherein the data could be fed to a mobile application which can then provide tips on how to improve the fitness. But smartwatches today have a problem that though they can do all these things, they do not perform particularly well. Smartwatches too could be as expensive as smartphones having batteries that could last for less than a day except for a few like the Pebble and the Basis Peak, they are less convenient than the traditional watches with regards to time and depend mainly on smartphones for all their functions.

Apple – Affluent User Base

The app’s focus during its keynote in September were fairly uninspiring such as the etch-a-sketch-like app which enables the user to draw an image and sent it to another user as well as enables them to transmit the heartbeats through haptic vibration.

According to Ben Wood, CCS Insights’ chief of research, states that the Watch will be successful due to the fact that Apple has an affluent user base and that the company is known for developing beautiful products where the Watch would be both an object of desire as well as a status symbol. Based on this

Apple could probably sell millions of Watches even if the device functions more than just telling the time. But the Watch would need something more if it intends to be an iconic product which could stand against all odds, like the iPod, iPad and iPhone and would need a `killer app’ to be a great hit. No sooner Apple Watch gains success, it will overcome the rest of the Smartwatch market and user not owning iPhone will tend to buy Android Wear Smartwatch which are compatible with their own devices with apps that are created for Apple’s Watch will soon be transposed to Android.

Future Devices – Lighter/Thinner/Appealing 

It could comprise of transport apps informing on which platform to go while at the railway stationor a voice recognition apps which enables the user to `set an alarm for 10 minutes’ by speaking the command. Besides, there is also scope for gaming apps which can take advantage of locations as well as biometric date to enable the user to play with other users of smartwatches. Smartwatches users also have the advantage of sport, news and leisure since they are condensed into quick-looks alerts.

Moreover, smartwatches could also be used for identity as well as home automation for instance; the user could touch the watch to their front door in order to unlock it. It could also be utilised for the purpose of payment, the way contactless cards are used currently. Smartwatches in future would also be less reliant on smartphones with some manufacturers already making headway in these quarters.

Companies related to technology will continue working with fashion brands in making devices lighter, thinner as well as more appealing and traditional watch brands such as GUESS has already begun in bringing about their first `smart’ devices which is expected in being very competitive over a period of time.

Issue Envisaged – Battery Life

The main problem envisaged with smartwatch manufacturers is perhaps the long term battery life and a report from 9to5Mac informs that the Apple’s Watch offers 2.5 hours of continuous usage for processor-intensive applications for games, 3.5 hours for continuous use of standard apps and 4 hours of active fitness tracking.
As the battery technology tends to develop and the devices tend to become more energy efficient, there would be further improvement in due course of time though it could pose as a serious inhibitor for first round adopters.

There could also be other issues which need to be taken into consideration before smartwaches are widely adopted wherein glancing at the watch at wrong time could cause offence and smartwatches would demand more attention than traditional time keeping devices.

For instance while at dinner with colleagues, one may tend to glance at your watch which could be creating an impression of boredom to the other person. Wood is of the opinion that this could be changed whereby looking at a watch becomes socially acceptable or alternatively peoplewill have to exercise some self-control.

It is left to be seen if Apple would be able to uncover the killer app prior to launch which could turn the Smartwatch from a novelty to a necessity.

Friday, January 30, 2015

How to Move iPhoto Library to External Hard Drive

With the latest digital cameras and advanced smartphones such as iPhone 6, users have the opportunities of getting amazing photos and moving a part or your entire photo library to an external hard drive is one effective way of providing free space on the device.

At the start, it is essential to make an up to date Time Machine Backup of the computer to an external hard drive or Time Capsule.

Users should ensure that the external hard drive which is used to perform the backup is a separate unit from the one which will move the iPhoto Library to, should any problem arise. If the use has an account with cloud storage service like Google Drive, Dropbox or iCloud Drive, one could also upload the iPhoto Library for extra redundancy to these services.

To move the library, users could open iPhoto, click File in the Menu Bar and use the option `Switch to Library’. A new window then appears listing any and all the iPhoto Libraries detected on the computer. If the location of the iPhoto Library file is unknown, one could check at the (Default) listing which can be seen at the file path with the list underneath it and this must be located in the Picture folders of the Home directory.

Guidance and Instructions

Then the user can quit iPhoto by going to Quit iPhoto in iPhoto Menu or by using the Cmd+Q and connect to the external hard drive which had be used to copy the iPhoto Library and see it appear on the desktop. A new Finder window could be opened and clicked on Pictures towards the left sidebar and drag the iPhoto Library file onto the external hard drive icon on the desktop.

Based on the size of the library as well as the connection speed of the external drive, it could take several minutes or even longer in completing the process of copying. When the process is completed, holding on to the Option key on the keyboard, open iPhoto from the Dock or the Application folder where a new window would pop up with the prompting of Creating a New Library.

On opting on the Selected Library or Other Library, the user could click on Other Library. With the browser window that appears, the user can navigate to the external hard drive and click the iPhoto Library file that is copied and could choose `Click’.

Procedure to Accommodate Space

The iPhoto then appears till the external hard drive remains connected and refers the library on the external drive instead of the computer’s drive. Users can quite iPhoto again and eject the external hard drive without the new iPhoto Library and open a new Finder window navigating to the Pictures folder in the left sidebar once again.

With a right click or Ctrl+click on the iPhoto file, one could move it to the Trash folder. In order to accommodate space on the internal hard drive, open the Trash from the Finder window or Dock; click Empty Trash on the upper right corner area. This will remove the iPhoto Library from the internal drive and then you could reconnect the external hard drive used to copy the iPhoto library and open iPhone, using it as normal

Apple’s `Be My Eyes’ App for the Blind

According to the National Federation of the Blind, Apple has done more for accessibility than any company has done and with the aid of a new app, iPad and iPhone users could go still further. `Be my Eyes’, is an app which enables blind people to seek remote help from sighted person whenever the need arises.

The latest app helps the blind to get instant help from sighted people on using the iPhone’s video call feature and in the first few days of its launch, the app has around 54,000 sighted volunteers. Sighted people who are ready to contribute help, can then install the app and receive alerts whenever help is required. Be My Eyes is a new crowd sourcing app which can connect the blind with the sighted person through the iPhone’s video call feature wherein it will enable users to lend their eyes to the blind.

The app has the potential in guiding the blind in difficult and challenging situations with over 4,000 people who have come forward to help the blind on more than 8,500 occasions according to the app’s website.

Live Audio-Video Connection 

When a first sighted user accepts a request to help a blind user, a live audio-video connection is set between the two and the sighted user could inform the blind person on what is seen whenever the blind person focuses his phone at something with the use of the rear facing camera.

Should the user be busy in extending help at that point of time, the request is automatically rotated through other sighted user till one of them accepts the request. The app has already assisted several people on almost 12,000 occasions. Tim Cook had commented eloquently on the priority he renders to equality and accessibility and went further informing a lobbying group of investors to `get out of this stock’, if it considers environmental concerns and making Apple devices accessible to disabled users, to be a waste of money’.

This new app connects the blind person with the volunteer sighted user across the world through the video chat when the app is activated and the blind person can then focus the phone’s camera to the problem faced while the help can verbally guide them.

App Invented – Hans Jorgen Wiberg

Seems to be quite amazing for the blind person seeking help since the sighted volunteer could then direct the blind person and inform them if they are walking in the right direction or if they are purchasing the appropriate product from the grocery store or even informing about expiry dates if any on any of the products to be purchased.

Hans Jorgen Wiberg invented the app who himself, was visually impaired in April 2012 and first presented the idea at a start-up convention in Denmark and the making of the app then took around two years to be created. Moreover, the app also offers sighted volunteers `a level up’ type of a system wherein they acquire points for daily acts of kindness though it is uncertain whether the volunteer obtains rewards on reaching certain levels. The app is available only for iPhones though the developers are working out on expanding the services to Android and Windows phones as well.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Apple Eyes Way to Leave Fingerprints in the Cloud

touch id
Apple’s Patent – Finger Biometric Sensor Data Synchronization in the Cloud

The US Patent and Trademark Office recently has published a patent filing known as `Finger biometric sensor data synchronization via a cloud computing device and related methods’ illustrating a system to record fingerprints on one device through Apple’s Touch ID sensor and thereafter upload them to the cloud to sync them with other devices.

Apple had developed a technology which would sync the Touch ID data with the other mobile devices as well as point of sale system through iCloud. The Touch ID sensor, which was introduced in 2013, is available on the iPhone 5S as well as the latest iPhones and iPads and the sensor needs one’s fingerprint to access the device in order to make purchases using the payment system of Apple Pay.

Setting up a Touch ID can be done by registering one or more fingerprints on your device. Apple, in its patent filing has suggested that the Touch ID enrolment could be complicating for users such as in the case of multiple fingerprints, users or devices could be used. For instance, a couple had to register their fingerprints not only on their own iPhones and iPad, but on each other’s devices as well which seems complicating. Cloud based synchronization could eliminate the requirement of registering all the fingerprints on every device that is in use.

Fingerprint Date Encrypted – to iCloud

With the present technology, the problem is that the fingerprints are stored solely on an iOS device and Apple has explained on the Touch ID page - `iOS and other apps cannot access your fingerprint data, it is not stored on Apple servers, and it is never backed up to iCloud or anywhere else’.

As explained in the filing, one would need to validate their Apple ID account prior to registering their fingerprints, the way one would do on entering their pass code. The fingerprint data is then encrypted and sent to iCloud.

Now to use your fingerprint on an alternate device, one would have to verify them from a `to be matched’ set of fingerprints on the second device and the fingerprints on both devices need to match up with the one stored on iCloud. Going a step further, the second devices in this case could be an NFC enabled point-of-sale system, the one that could be used to buy products through Apple Pay.

NFC/Bluetooth to Sync Fingerprint Data 

The POS would have the fingerprint sensor that one would tap to validate the `to be matched’, set of fingerprints. The technology could utilises NFC or Bluetooth in order to sync the fingerprint data as a secured alternative to iCloud though it would be practical only for syncing two devices being in close proximity of each other.

This type of system would certainly make the process of setting up multiple fingerprints on multiple devices, easy though one of the security benefits of the present Touch ID is that Apple does not seem to store the fingerprints, online. Moreover, Apple would need to prove that the system is secured before the users consider storing their encrypted fingerprints in the cloud. Apple spokesperson had reported that the company does not make any comment on patent filings.