Apple granted patent for a ‘self adapting alert device’

Apple has been granted a patent (number 20170294108) for a “self adapting alert device” that would allow an iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch to autonomously adapt one or more user alerts to the current operating environment of the gadget.

In the patent filing Apple notes that electronic devices are ubiquitous in society and can be found in everything from wristwatches to computers. Many of these electronic devices are portable and also include the ability to obtain a user's attention through the use of an alert device. 

For example portable electronic devices like cellular phones and watches contain alert devices such as vibrating motors, speakers, and/or lights to attract the user's attention. Because of their portable nature, many of these portable electronic devices are made as small as possible by miniaturizing the components therein. As part of this miniaturization effort, the alert devices in the electronic devices are often made as small as possible in order to conserve space. However, Apple says these miniaturized alert devices can be problematic for several reasons. 

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First, these miniaturized alert devices may be inadequate to obtain the user's attention in a variety of different situations. For example, if the user of a cell phone is in an environment where there is a great deal of ambient noise, such as a concert or live sporting event, then the user may be unable to see a visual alert from a miniaturized light on the phone, hear an auditory alert from a miniaturized speaker in the phone and/or unable to detect vibration coming from the phone's miniaturized vibration motor. 

Additionally, because of electronic devices often contain slight variations in the way they were manufactured, the actual response of the alert device within the electronic device may vary between electronic devices. In other words, slight variations in the actual manufacturing of an electronic device may cause the electronic device to react differently to the same force driving the alert device. 

For example, the vibration frequency may vary between phones of the same make and model because of manufacturing tolerance, and therefore, the same amount of vibration from a vibrating motor may unintentionally produce different levels of user alerts. For these reasons, Apple says methods and systems that adaptively adjust the alert devices within electronic devices to overcome one or more of these problems are needed.

Of course, 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.