Thursday, December 27, 2007, 03:50 pm PT (06:50 pm ET)
Patent roundup: video features, scroll wheel keyboardNewly published filings show Apple attempting to patent two important video decoding techniques as well as a scrolling technique that applies both to iPods and a possible keyboard.
Pulldown correction patent
The first and most recent patent, one for a unique method of pulldown correction, would simplify the process of determining the correct editing or playback mode for a given video clip.
By studying multiple frames of a given video, the method would compare differences between the two to judge the technical details of a clip without needing pre-inserted data. It could not only determine the intended frame rate (the common purpose of pulldown conversion) but also whether the source image is interlaced or progressive.
In some cases, the technique could restore the original qualities of a video, Apple says. An algorithm could determine that a video had been de-interlaced and automatically re-apply the effect to avoid problems during video editing.
DVD web system patent
Published on Christmas day, another patent for a DVD web system would enable two-way interaction between a web browser and a DVD.
Current DVDs can launch basic web links, but with the new patent a web browser could trigger different events on the movie disc through HTML code, such as site links.
Alternately, the browser could be trained to synchronize itself with the DVD, displaying content based on the disc in the drive.
Accelerated scrolling patent
Apple's third patent filing may be its most unique.
An application for a patent on accelerated scrolling addresses the concept of increasing scroll speed in software based on the speed of the user's physical input.
The invention is primarily meant to address the scroll wheel (and later click wheel) found on iPods from the original 2001 model onwards, the latter of which is held up as the reference model. Users of the music player can scroll through a linear list of music far faster than normal simply by increasing the speed of their own scrolling motion by a smaller amount, Apple indicates.
Unusually, however, the patent also shows a keyboard with a scroll wheel on the side as one of its examples, suggesting that users could use the same technique to navigate an operating system. Apple originally submitted the technology to the US Patent Office as early as September 2002 but has not had the patent revealed to the public until this week.
Other patents: iPhoto, MagSafe, more
In addition to the more specialized patents, patents have surfaced for some hardware and software features Mac users see in existing products.
Notably, a filing has at last appeared for the MagSafe connector found on the MacBook and MacBook Pro. Dubbed simply a magnetic connector for an electronic device, the invention covers a power connection that uses magnetic attraction to keep the cable in place while allowing an easy disconnect in the event of an accidental pull.
Apple has also patented iPhoto's retouching brush image correction and mosaic generation features, a means of giving word prominence during speech recognition, and color correction using a video card's acceleration features instead of the main system processor.
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