Qualcomm Seeks Patent on Whether Mobile Device is in a Vehicle

By Steve Brachmann
October 4, 2013

The San Diego-based semiconductor developer known as Qualcomm Incorporated is a major global developer of digital wireless telecommunications technologies. Its software and electronic hardware components are used by a wide array of smartphones, tablets and other computing devices that are widely available on the consumer market today. Financially, Qualcomm is one of the strongest semiconductor companies around, and it recently announced that it would be providing money to investors through a $5 billion share buyback program. The company has already spent $4.5 billion on similar investor buybacks during the 2013 fiscal year as it attempts to attract more investment interest.

We’ve taken a look before at this major corporation, headquartered in the state of California, but we’re returning today with IPWatchdog’s Companies We Follow series to see what’s taken place at Qualcomm in the interim. We’ve pulled up a lot of patent applications and issued patents assigned by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to get an idea of what this company has in store in the coming months.

Today, we feature a very interesting patent application from Qualcomm that would protect a system of determining whether a device is being transported in a vehicle. This system could detect multiple modes of transportation and adjust a device’s functionality in response. Other patent applications discuss improvements to covering network holes for better connectivity among device users, as well as a more responsive system of detecting malware before receiving a notification about potential malware from a central service.

We’re also exploring a number of issued patents that pose a number of intriguing benefits for mobile devices and other computer systems. One issued patent discusses a system of storing audio samples to aid speech recognition software on an electronic device. Another patent allows a network to determine if a user is spoofing the system in order to trick a server into treating the user as though they’re in a different geographical region. Also, we look at an issued patent that describes improvements to systems of wireless charging for mobile devices.



Detecting That a Mobile Device is Riding With a Vehicle
U.S. Patent Application No. 20130240245986

Electronic devices are designed for a high degree of portability among consumers. Laptops, smartphones, tablet devices and more are easily transported when a user puts the gadget in a pocket or travel case. Electronics manufacturers have developed these products to the point where a single device is capable of completing many tasks over a network, such as accessing financial accounts or e-mail servers, or connecting with a number of application services while on the go.

An owner may transport an electronic device while driving in a car. However, operating the device while in the car may create a dangerous situation, especially if the device user is also operating the vehicle. It would be helpful, therefore, for a mobile device to have a method of determining that it was riding in a vehicle. Current methods using accelerometers aren’t ideal as the accelerometer may think that a device is not in a car if the vehicle is idling at a stoplight.

Qualcomm has filed this patent application with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office to legally protect a better system of determining whether or not a mobile device is being transported within a vehicle. Accelerometer, wi-fi receiver and GPS data is analyzed over time to determine if the rate of travel of the device indicates that it’s contained within a moving vehicle. Sensor data could also determine when a user is walking up to the moment that user enters or exits a vehicle.

The ability to detect the mode of transportation that a user is taking can enhance the functionality of various applications and programs, especially those involved in navigation and routing. Along with the sensor data, this system can also determine if the device is within a small enclosed space, like the cabin of a vehicle, based on certain audio signatures picked up by the audio input. Along with walking and driving, this system could use movement data to further determine if a user is on a train, a boat, an airplane or using various other modes of transportation.

Claim 1 of this patent application would protect:

“A method comprising: obtaining motion data from one or more motion-detecting devices; and filtering the motion data to obtain present motion states for respective time intervals based on the motion data, the present motion states comprising one or more pedestrian motion states and one or more vehicular motion states, the one or more pedestrian motion states comprising a walk state, and the one or more vehicular motion states comprising a vehicular stop state; wherein, during the filtering, transitions from the one or more pedestrian motion states to the one or more vehicular motion states are restricted to transitions from the walk state to the vehicular stop state and transitions from the one or more vehicular motion states to the one or more pedestrian motion states are restricted to transitions from the vehicular stop state to the walk state.”


Other Patent Applications

As always, we have scoured the available patent application publishings through the USPTO to bring you a wide assortment of interesting developments that consumers may see enter the market in the next few months. Following up on today’s featured application, we have a number of other patent applications which pertain to vehicular travel and electronic devices. For instance, U.S. Patent Application No. 20130244608, which is titled Apparatus and Method for Enabling Incoming Pages Following an Emergency Call Made in Airplane Mode, enables mobile telephone devices to make emergency calls while in airplane mode while preventing the mobile station handling the call from putting the phone in emergency callback mode, preventing other calls from being made. U.S. Patent Application No. 20130245884, entitled User Experience of the Connected Automobile, would protect a power saving system of operating on-board vehicular systems, such as power locks or the entertainment system, based on the proximity of a driver.


Other innovations outlined in Qualcomm’s patent applications filings deal more with improving security and coverage systems for devices capable of connecting to the Internet. U.S. Patent Application No. 20130247187, filed under the title of Computing Device to Detect Malware, offers a major improvement over prior means of detecting malicious programs on computers. Current detection methods require a program to detect trojans, viruses and other malware based on updates from a central server for known malware, which doesn’t help those who have already been affected. This system would analyze the behavior of computer programs to determine if a program is malicious, whether or not it is known as malware to a central server. Finally, U.S. Patent Application No. 20130237231, entitled Using Access Points to Identify Coverage Holes, would protect a system of analyzing network access among mobile devices to determine holes in coverage areas. This data could be used to inform power and frequency adjustments at mobile stations to fix those holes.

From U.S. Patent Application No. 20130247187, titled “Computing Device to Detect Malware.”


Issued Patents of Note

From U.S. Patent No. 8,539,357, simply titled “Media Preferences.”

Every week, the USPTO also issues a number of patents that it has awarded to companies who have filed U.S. patent applications from all over the globe. IPWatchdog wants to take an in-depth look at a couple that we felt were intriguing enough to feature for our Companies We Follow series. As each of these patents will show, Qualcomm is definitely focused on protecting intellectual property related to electronic devices.

We’re noticing that a couple of these patents hold some very unique promises for the future of mobile device usage. For example, U.S. Patent No. 8541974, which is titled Moveable Magnetically Resonant Antenna for Wireless Charging, protects a system of wireless charging for devices that improves efficiency in the transmission of power. Television enthusiasts may also be interested in checking out U.S. Patent No. 8539357, entitled Media Preferences, which protects a system of determining a subject from a captured image and attaching broadcast preferences to that person when they sit in front of the TV. Voice recognition systems on Qualcomm mobile devices are also set to benefit greatly from U.S. Patent No. 8538760, issued under the title of Methods and Apparatuses for Identifying Audible Samples for Use in a Speech Recognition Capability of a Mobile Device. This patent protects a system of storing audible samples from users to aid in speech recognition for a specific device owner.

Other notable patents issued by the USPTO to Qualcomm involve the efficient use of computer systems to aid in medical issues for owners or to protect against security threats. U.S. Patent No. 8538775, entitled Mobile Wireless Medication Management System, provides for a multitude of improvements to medical medication management systems, where even slight errors can create a high risk of morbidity and death in patients who receive the wrong medication or an improper dose. One last issued patent, U.S. Patent No. 8531332, listed as Anti-Spoofing Detection System, protects a system of determining an electronic device user who is attempting to “spoof” the network into thinking that the device is in a different geographical location.

The Author

Steve Brachmann

Steve Brachmann is a freelance journalist located in Buffalo, New York. He has worked professionally as a freelancer for more than a decade. He writes about technology and innovation. His work has been published by The Buffalo News, The Hamburg Sun, USAToday.com, Chron.com, Motley Fool and OpenLettersMonthly.com. Steve also provides website copy and documents for various business clients and is available for research projects and freelance work.

Warning & Disclaimer: The pages, articles and comments on IPWatchdog.com do not constitute legal advice, nor do they create any attorney-client relationship. The articles published express the personal opinion and views of the author and should not be attributed to the author’s employer, clients or the sponsors of IPWatchdog.com. Read more.

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