Patent report: gesture entry techniques, on-demand video, interactive packaging

Apple files for — and is granted — lots of patents by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Many are for inventions that never see the light of day. However, you never can tell which ones will materialize in a real product, so here are today’s patent highlights:

You may one day be able to access your iOS device via a gesture that you determine, as well as by the current authentication methods. Apple has been granted a patent (number 9,372,970) for “gesture entry techniques” for for entering and saving a gesture on a touch-sensitive display device such as an iPhone or iPad.

In one embodiment, the iDevice displays an array of visible graphical elements and may detect a gesture based on a user's touch of the visible graphical elements as well as on hidden areas not displayed to the user. For example, the iOS device may detect a user's touch over hidden dots between the visible graphical elements or through hidden lines connecting the visible graphical elements.

Apple has also been granted a patent (number 9,374,616) for a “method and apparatus for on-demand video and other content rental.” Obviously, it applies to the iTunes store and the Apple TV set-top box.

The invention is for an online video on-demand system for video rentals. A user accesses an on-line store to rent a video program or movie. The rental is for a limited time (such as 30 days) and within that 30 days, the video program or movie can only be viewed for a 24 hour time window. The time limits are enforced by the on-line store that maintains a database of each rental transaction and allows supply of the needed keys for decrypting the (encrypted) video or movie only if within the time limits.

Finally, Apple has been granted a patent (number 9,371155) for “active electronic media device packaging.” The goal is to allow potential buyers to have at least elementary interaction with products they’re considering as a purchase.

The invention involves packaging for Apple products that would supply power, data, or both power and data to a device while the device is still within the packaging. The active packaging may include one or more electrical traces in-molded or printed onto the packaging that couple to a suitable connector on the device. Power may also be provided via one or more wireless power techniques. 

In the patent filing, Apple notes that traditional packaging for an electronic media device includes plastic or cardboard containers and boxes that house the electronic media device for protection. However, the ability to fully view or interact with the electronic media device while still inside the packaging is severely limited in most packaging designs. Apple wants to change this.