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Thursday, July 23, 2009, 08:35 am PT (11:35 am ET)

New Apple patent filings cover device ejection, text to speech

Apple is exploring a new system that would automatically allow a portable device such as an iPhone or iPod to be safely disconnected from a host computer with a simple touch, according to a newly revealed patent filing.

Another patent made public Thursday shows that Apple is interested in a system that reads text messages and broadcasts them audibly on a separate device.

Touch and go

Currently, a USB device or similar attached to a computer like an iPod or thumb drive must be "ejected" before it can be physically disconnected. This is to ensure that no communication between the computer and the device is taking place when it is disconnected. If a device is unexpectedly unplugged, it can result in corrupted data.

Apple's possible solution for this problem would generate a signal when the device is touched by the user, or even if an impending touch is detected. The signal would trigger the host to initiate operations to disengage the device.

Touch release patent


"These features allow a user to disconnect from the host system more quickly and also prevents data corruption due to failure of the user to follow proper procedures," the filing reads.

The patent covers USB devices, SD cards, mobile phones, media players, game consoles computer peripherals, biometric sensors, headsets and more.

Text message to speech

While this patent filing centers around multimedia data transfer, the most interesting part of the summary deals specifically with text messages.

"The reading of text messages can be troublesome due to, in part, the small size of the typical display screen or the inability to control ambient light conditions," the patent states. "This is particularly troublesome to those users having impaired vision where reading a text message, of any reasonable size, for example, is difficult."

Text to speech patent


Filed for on March 27, 2009, this patent, revealed Thursday, describes the transmission of vocalized multimedia data to a "receiver unit by way of the voice channel without the use of a backend server." Essentially, it would directly transmit the audible interpretation of a text message to an independent receiver.