Patent report: an avatar editing app, a Mac compatible Apple Pencil, more

Apple could release an app that allows you to create your own avatars. The company has been granted a patent (number 9,576,400) for an “avatar editing environment.” It would allow you to create custom avatars for use in online games and other applications. (An avatar is the graphical representation of the user or the user's alter ego or character.)

Starting with a blank face the user can add, rescale and position different elements (e.g., eyes, nose, mouth) on the blank face. The user can also change the shape of the avatar's face, the avatar's skin color and the color of all the elements. In some implementations, touch input and gestures can be used to manually edit the avatar. Various controls can be used to create the avatar, such as controls for resizing, rotating, positioning, etc. 

The user can choose between manual and automatic avatar creation. The avatar editing environment can be part of a framework that is available to applications. One or more elements of the avatar can be animated.

Apple may also be working on Apple Pencils with enhanced abilities — and perhaps Mac support. The company has been granted a patent (number 9,575,573) for a “stylus with touch sensor” that would allow the device to control scrolling, zooming, and more.

In the patent, Apple notes: “It can be challenging for a user to interact with electronic equipment using a computer stylus. In some situations, a display is not sufficiently large to contain all of a user's work, so scrolling to different portions of a screen becomes necessary. Scrolling using stylus scrolling wheels or scrolling wheels in other devices such as computer mice can be cumbersome. It can also be difficult use a stylus to perform complex operations such as object rotations, zooming operations, and other operations without requiring a large number of interactions between the stylus and the touch sensor.”

Here’s Apple’s summary of the invention: “The stylus may have a touch sensor on the elongated body. The touch sensor on the body may have electrodes that gather touch input and optional force input when the fingers of a user touch the stylus. The touch input may include touch gestures in which a user's fingers move along the length of the stylus and may include rotational information indicative of how the stylus is being rotated between the user's fingers. The stylus may have a force sensor that monitors how firmly the stylus is being pressed against external surface and may have other input-output devices. The stylus may transition between operating modes based on signals from the force sensor and other input-output devices in the stylus.”

Finally, Apple has been granted a patent (number 9,573,165) for a “hydrophobic mesh cover” that could make devices such as iPhones waterproof.

A screen having a hydrophobic portion to resist the entry of liquid into an acoustic module and a hydrophilic portion to aid in the removal of liquid from an acoustic chamber is described in the patent. The mesh screen would have two surfaces: one to inhibit entry of liquid into the acoustic module and another layer to facilitate the removal of any liquid that does pass through the first layer and enters into the acoustic module. 

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.