Hover touch panel and embedded heart rate monitor patents granted to Apple

Wish you could control your iPhone or iPad by simply hovering your fingers on the screen. Wish your iDevice had a built-in heart rate monitor. Well patents awarded to the Cupertino firm suggest that these technologies could make it to iDevices in the future.

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On the USPTO (US Patent and Trademark Office) website, the “touch and hover signal drift compensation” patent is described as:

Compensation for signal drift in a touch and hover sensing device is disclosed. A touch and hover sensing device can include a sensing panel to sense an object touching or hovering over the panel, a grounding device to periodically interact with the panel, and a control system to measure capacitance of the panel when the grounding device interacts with the panel, where the measurement captures any signal drift in the panel, and to set the measurement as a new baseline capacitance of the panel. Alternatively, the touch and hover sensing device can forgo the grounding device and configure the control system to measure capacitance of the panel either when there has been no touching or hovering object or when there is a substantially stationary touching or hovering object at the panel for a determinative time period, where the measurement captures any signal drift in the panel, and to set the measurement from this time period as the new baseline capacitance. The control system can apply the new baseline capacitance to touch and hover measurements so as to compensate for the signal drift.

It claims:

A touch and hover sensing device comprising: a sensing panel configured to sense an object touching or hovering over the panel; a grounding device configured to periodically interact with the sensing panel; and a touch and hover control system configured to measure capacitance of the panel when the grounding device interacts with the panel and to set the measurement as a baseline capacitance of the device.

The “Seamlessly embedded heart rate monitor” patent is described as:

This is directed to an electronic device having an integrated sensor for detecting a user’s cardiac activity and cardiac electrical signals. The electronic device can include a heart sensor having several leads for detecting a user’s cardiac signals. The leads can be coupled to interior surfaces of the electronic device housing to hide the sensor from view, such that electrical signals generated by the user can be transmitted from the user’s skin through the electronic device housing to the leads. In some embodiments, the leads can be coupled to pads placed on the exterior of the housing. The pads and housing can be finished to ensure that the pads are not visibly or haptically distinguishable on the device, thus improving the aesthetic qualities of the device. Using the detected signals, the electronic device can identify or authenticate the user and perform an operation based on the identity of the user. In some embodiments, the electronic device can determine the user’s mood from the cardiac signals and provide data related to the user’s mood.

It claims:

An electronic device operative to detect a user’s cardiac signal, comprising: a housing; a bezel that comprises a first portion and a second portion and that is coupled to the housing to form at least a portion of an enclosure for the electronic device; a heart sensor operative to detect the user’s cardiac signal, the heart sensor comprising: a first lead embedded in the first portion, wherein the first lead is configured to detect a first electrical signal of the user’s cardiac signal via the user’s contact with at least one of the first lead and the first portion; and a second lead embedded in the second portion, wherein the second lead is configured to detect a second electrical signal of the user’s cardiac signal via the user’s contact with at least one of the second lead and the second portion; and a processor coupled to the heart sensor and operative to receive and process the detected cardiac signal.

Of course, there is a possibility these technologies never see the light of day. However, it would be nice seeing them in future iPhones and iPads.

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