Sony Corporation of Tokyo, Japan, is a major developer of electronics in many industries, including financial services, gaming and consumer devices. Sony has been making forays into the handheld electronic device markets, having recently announced the upcoming release of the Xperia Tablet Z, a handheld electronic tablet that’s resistant to water. Sony is also soon to release the PlayStation 4, a gaming console system that has already reportedly experienced very good presales.
As a major developer of electronics, Sony Corporation often files patent applications and is awarded patents from the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. This week at IPWatchdog’s series Companies We Follow, we take a closer look at some interesting patent documents assigned to Sony which the USPTO has released this month.
A few of the patent applications we profile here offer better methods of providing professional software services to electronic device users. One patent application improves the ability for amateur videographers to render 3D graphics while editing video. Another application would protect a new system of user camera settings that analyzes prior photos to determine user preferences for lighting and more.
Other applications we feature here would protect some very interesting improvements to electronic devices. For example, one application we look at would protect a remote control that can also help a user interact with their home’s telephone system. One final patent application we feature makes it easier for smart phone users to take pictures without their hands getting in the way of the display screen. We also look at one patent that allows users to build personal libraries of DRM-protected digital content that are accessible across multiple devices.
Personal Library on Net
U.S. Patent No. 8464356
Cloud-based digital storage and syncing allows users to backup important information about e-mail contacts, calendar appointments and more that can instantly be shared on multiple devices. Instead of storing this information on the local device, the data is sent to a cloud server which can be accessed by different computing devices. However, sharing data that has been protected through digital rights management (DRM) is difficult because the DRM protections often prevent the files from being accessed by an unauthorized device, even if the same user is attempting to access.
Sony was recently awarded a patent from the USPTO that provides for a personal online library for digital content that can apply DRM principles while allowing users to access data on multiple devices. This system involves a content store, through which users can purchase digital content online. The content is then stored in a personalized library, accessible through cloud servers. A device list is built that corresponds to various devices owned by one user, allowing any of these compatible devices to access the DRM-protected data.
Claim 1 of this patent gives Sony the right to protect:
“A system comprising: a. a content store for storing content including a plurality of content items, wherein the plurality of content items are a part of a content group having group licensing information that restricts the use of the content group as a unit; b. a personal library coupled to the content store for providing use management of the content group such that use of the plurality of content items of the content group complies with the restrictions of the group licensing information, wherein to provide the user management the personal library incorporates a data block with the content that includes a valid content indicator and a content list indicating valid content and invalid content based on use management information; and c. a plurality of user devices in communication with the personal library for receiving and presenting the content on each device of the plurality of user devices, wherein a push notification is used by the personal library to notify a trigger to start a synchronization protocol but a content transmission of the synchronization protocol is initiated by a user.”
Image Processing Device and Image Processing Method
U.S. Patent Application 20130148944
Commercial video editing is capable of processing two-dimensional images as three-dimensional images for movie theater screens. When editing these images, many aspects of 3D image rendering must be properly adjusted to accommodate viewer comfort. For example, the maximum binocular disparity, or distance between two overlapping images that are rendered into a 3D image, must be within a certain ratio of the projection screen size or the resulting image will be of poor viewing quality.
Sony is hoping to protect a system of image processing that would make it easier for consumers and amateurs to process 3D images in video and adjust for proper binocular disparity and other specifications. This invention would create a system of storing disparity information during video processing to automatically adjust for proper binocular disparity.
Claim 7 (Claims 1 through 6) of this Sony patent application would provide protections for:
“An image processing device that edits, at an edit point, a first encoded stream which has a first 3D encoded image, and a second encoded 3D image which has a second encoded 3D image, comprising: an obtaining unit that obtains first disparity information, which includes binocular disparity amount for a main viewing region of the first 3D images that have been added to the first encoding stream, and obtains second disparity information, which includes the binocular disparity amount for a main viewing region of the second 3D images that have been added to the second encoding stream; an adjustment unit that adjusts the binocular disparity amount for the first disparity information and the binocular disparity amount for the second disparity information, so that the difference between the binocular disparity amount included in the first disparity information obtained by the obtaining unit and the binocular disparity amount included in the second disparity information obtained by the obtaining unit, is at or below a threshold; an updating unit that updates the binocular disparity amount included in the first disparity information obtained by the obtaining unit and the binocular disparity amount included in the second disparity information obtained by the obtaining unit, into the binocular disparity amount adjusted by the adjustment unit; and an editing unit that adds the first disparity information with the binocular disparity amount updated by the updating unit to the first encoded stream, or adds the second disparity information with the binocular disparity amount updated by the updating unit to the second encoded stream, and edits the first encoded stream and the second encoded stream at the edit point.”
Combined Telephone/TV Remote Control
U.S. Patent Application No. 20130148034
Personal electronic devices have grown tremendously in their capabilities in recent years. One interesting development that has improved device connectivity is the Bluetooth wireless technology standard. This allows devices to connect to local devices, such as speakers or a computer, without requiring an Internet connection.
This patent application, filed by Sony, describes a system of connecting a mobile phone to a remote control for a television set through Bluetooth technology. The TV system is configured so that a presence indicator is sent to the television when a phone call is received. The remote control operating the TV receives this indication and allows a user to receive a phone call directly through the TV, using the television speakers to broadcast the caller’s voice.
As Claim 8 (Claims 1 through 7 cancelled) describes, Sony has devised a:
“A TV remote control (RC) comprising: a hand-held housing; a keypad on the housing; a microphone in the housing; a processor in the housing and configured to receive signals from the microphone and keypad; a TV remote control signal generator in the housing and being controllable by the processor to send at least channel control commands to the TV, the RC also configured to wirelessly transmit signals representing voice signals received at the microphone; and a short range wireless transceiver in the housing, the transceiver configured to wirelessly transmit the signals representing voice signals, the RC not containing a telephony transceiver.”
Camera System and Method for Taking Photographs that Correspond to User Preferences
U.S. Patent Application No. 20130142435
Digital image capture devices and applications are available in various electronic devices, including digital cameras and mobile phones. These devices have often been configured with detection equipment for automatic adjustment of flash and other settings in response to physical conditions. However, when a photographer likes to focus on certain subjects, such as animals or natural settings, certain lighting and other settings must be adjusted manually and often.
This Sony patent application would protect a system of analyzing user camera activity to build a profile of user picture preferences. Images that are discarded or not saved could also be analyzed to determine what types of pictures a user thinks is of low quality. Characteristics of stored images can be analyzed to determine any correlating aspects that can be used to inform proper lighting conditions, subject focus and other settings when a user operates the camera in a similar environment.
Claim 1 of this patent application would provide Sony legal protections over:
“A method of processing a digital picture, comprising: analyzing attributes of an image for a degree of correspondence between the attributes and respective features that collectively represent user preferences regarding photo quality; and processing the image to increase the correspondence between the attributes and respective features that collectively represent user preferences regarding photo quality.”
U.S. Patent Application No. 20130141362
Mobile phones with various software applications, known as smart phones, have been able to capture images in recent years through digital camera software and components included in these devices. Typically, the camera lens is installed on the side opposite from the touchscreen display. The display screen shows the image that the camera could capture and contains touch-operated buttons for taking the picture or adjusting focus and other settings.
Sony has filed this application to protect a new image capture procedure for camera applications that can reduce the amount of visual hindrance caused by a user’s hands during camera operation. This system includes a photography button that would be placed along one side of the smart phone and a rear touch panel. The photography button allows a user to give the direct command to start a camera application. The rear touch panel allows a user to capture an image without needing to touch the display showing the picture.
As Claim 1 explains, Sony filed this application to gain protections over:
“An information processing apparatus comprising: an imaging unit that captures an image of a subject; a display, provided on a first surface of the information processing apparatus, that displays the image of the subject; a touch panel, provided on a second surface of the information processing apparatus, that detects a touch input, the second surface being a surface opposite to the first surface; and a controller that receives an output from the touch panel corresponding to the touch input and outputs a command to control at least one of the imaging unit and the display based on the touch input.”