A mention of the phrase ‘smartphone patent’ would automatically remind you of the ongoing multi-billion dollar suits between Apple and Samsung, or Apple patenting ‘thin, rectangular shaped devices with flat surfaces’. Not every smartphone patent is boring and lame though, if the files held by the US patent and trademark office are anything to go by, there are some pretty interesting patents that companies have filed and received approval. The common patents people know of are slide-to-unlock, wink-to-unlock and turn upside down to mute, but do you know there are patents to protect a phone from crashing, phone alerts on the skin and smartphones with flying capabilities? Here is a look of some 10 crazy phone patents you may find interesting.
1. Smartphone Cycle (Samsung)
Filed: July 6, 2006
This invention sought to devise ways for smartphones to appeal to women and make their lives easier. The feature would be able to read the user’s body temperature whenever she holds it up to her ear and use the data collected to chart her ovulation cycle. The patent is not limited to phones though; Samsung intended to have it in all kinds of devices including laptops and MP3 players.
2. Good Vibes (Nokia)
Filed: September 13, 2011
In the future, there may be Lumia phones that when they ring, the owner will feel the vibration – not in the pocket but on a Tweety bird painted on the arm. This patent by Nokia would introduce a way for the phone to alert the user via a tattoo or other forms of marking on the skin by sending “perceivable stimulus to the skin”. One pinch may mean you have an email, a shake may mean a friend is calling or two pinches may mean you are late for an appointment.
3. Fold Out Tablet (Palm)
Filed: January 18, 2001
Although this patent is still listed as belonging to Palm, it probably belongs to HP now as it acquired Palm in 2010. The patent is of a bendable display which could be used in various devices that unfold into a tablet. In 2008, Samsung came up with an idea almost similar to this, you can check it out here.
4. Amazon Crash (Amazon)
Filed: February 11, 2010
We reported awhile back that Amazon is working on its own smartphone, but what we do not know is whether they will equip it with a feature to protect it from crashing when accidentally dropped. This smartphone protection feature would detect when the smartphone is dropped and deploy the safety feature which may include jet-pack style thrusters, airbags or springs to safely land the device or keep it hovering above ground.
5. iPhone 3DS (Apple)
Filed: July 7, 2010
Forget touch-screen iPhones, if this patent ever comes to fruition, you would be able to control your 3D iPhone just by flicking or swiping the finger on a multidimensional device or hover your finger just above the screen. This technology would make it easier to deal with pop-ups and manage multiple applications in a 3D environment.
6. Skin Flick (Nokia)
Filed: November 19, 2007
Imagine wearing a remote control on your finger that you can use to interact with your smartphone? Well, Nokia had thought of it half a decade ago and even patented the idea. The remote control may be embedded to your finger, glasses or any other part of your body. You can control the device without actually touching it.
7. Samsung Galaxy Wings (Samsung)
Filed: December 24, 2008
Before you jump to conclusions, no, this is not a flying phone. It is a concept that was developed way back before on-screen keyboards were introduced. Samsung’s Galaxy Wings is a keyboard design with springs that flick out on the sides like a switchblade. This concept is almost similar to the fold-out QWERTY keyboard idea that Research In Motion had in mind and would have used it on Blackberrys.
8. Seeing Double (Microsoft)
Filed: February 15, 2012
It appears Microsoft has some revolutionary ideas for future smartphones – one is a dual display device the size of a playing card which can transform into two different devices when need be. This dual display handset enables a user to talk to a person on one screen while viewing a message or reading a document on the other. Microsoft is passionate about this idea, you can check the concept video from 2009 by Microsoft.
9. JoyStylus (Nokia)
Filed: December 31, 2002
Way before mobile gaming was revolutionized with touch controls, Nokia had a grand idea to improve mobile gaming by introducing a joystick-like feature where the stylus of the phone would be the stick inserted into a socket – talk of a makeshift joystick. This would have been a great invention except that it appears vulnerable to snapping the stylus or even the socket.
10. Light Harness (Apple)
Filed: September 19, 2008
It can be sometimes difficult to properly view your laptop screen when using the laptop outside in the sun. Apple patented an idea to use the sun’s power to boost the laptop’s brightness. The ‘light harness’ collects the sunlight then reflects it into the back of the screen to improve the brightness.
Are there any interesting or unusual inventions/ideas you have come across? Share with us on the comments section below, it is fun to read.