Patent report: iPhones with hidden connectors, AR displays, proactive security

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: 

There’s speculation that the upcoming “iPhone 7” — and perhaps the second gen Apple Watch — will be waterproof. A newly granted Apple patent (number 2016020437) hints that this could be true.

The patent is for an “electronic device with a hidden connector.” The device — an iPhone, iPad, or Apple Watch — would have a “self-healing” elastomer applied over one or more external electronic connectors. The self-healing elastomer may obscure the electronic connectors from the user, as well as provide environmental protection for the connector and the electronic device. 

Electronic probes such as an audio jack (though the next iPhone will reportedly ditch such a jack) or data connector may temporarily penetrate the self-healing elastomer to mate with the electronic connector. After removal of the probes the self-healing elastomer may elastically reform and self-heal.

Look out Oculus Rift. Apple has also been granted a patent for “synchronized, interactive augmented reality displays for multifunction devices.” According to the patent, a device (which would probably be an iPhone or iPad) would be able to receive live video of a real-world, physical environment on a touch sensitive surface. One or more objects can be identified in the live video. 

An information layer can be generated related to the Objects. In some implementations, the information layer can include annotations made by a user through the touch sensitive surface. The information layer and live video can be combined in a display of the device. 

Data can be received from one or more onboard sensors indicating that the device is in motion. The sensor data can be used to synchronize the live video and the information layer as the perspective of video camera view changes due to the motion. What’s more, the live video and information layer can be shared with other devices over a communication link.

Finally, Apple is working to make its iOS devices even more secure. The company has filed for a patent (number 20160205556) for “proactive security for mobile devices.” According to the invention, an iPhone or iPad could proactively determine whether the mobile device is associated with a security risk and the level of the security risk. 

Upon determining a security risk, the iDevice would transmit coordinates of its current geographic location to a server. To protect privacy of authorized users, the transmission can be disabled by entering a password. If multiple failed password attempts are detected, the mobile device can proactively increase a security level of the device, and selectively protect files or other content stored on it. 

In some implementations, the mobile device can be transitioned into a surveillance mode where the iOS gadget records or captures information associated with one or more of user actions, ambient sound, images, a trajectory of the device, and transmits the recorded or captured information to the network resource.