The immense wave of technological innovation that continues to pour out of Samsung makes it a favorite one for us to cover here in IPWatchdog’s Companies We Follow series. Our investigation of Samsung’s recent patent applications and issued patents from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office showed us some very novel new digital systems for Samsung’s various consumer devices. We wanted to share some of the most intriguing innovations from this company with our readers today.
First, we start by taking a close look at our featured patent application, which describes a system of linking applications on a single electronic device. By linking applications, a user can more easily switch between programs without using a multi-window view, which limits usable space on a touchscreen. Better methods of providing flash storage memory for smartphone devices and reader methods for adding multimedia effects of their choosing to an eBook are reflected in other patent applications we discovered.
The truly exciting part of our coverage involves the issued patents that represent a company’s right to protect its innovations on a global scale. Just in the last week alone, Samsung has received dozens of patents for truly unique technologies, such as one patent protecting better walking and balancing controls for two-legged humanoid robots. Other patents recently issued to Samsung protect methods of identifying the likely presence of unknown viruses in e-mails, better systems of personal data and content broadcasting from mobile devices and a solar cell energy collection technology for use with handheld electronic devices.
Method and Apparatus to Facilitate Interoperability of Applications in a Device (Image: facilitate interoperability.png)
U.S. Patent Application No. 20140075394
The smartphones of today involve much more computing technology than their cell phone predecessors of the 1990s and early 2000s. The operating systems of these handheld devices support a wide array of software that is made available to a user when they download an application to their device. In many cases, users are more apt to use these software programs rather than an Internet browser to interact with online services.
Often, a user will operate a number of applications on a single smartphone or tablet device. Although the ability to multitask between apps may be desirable, most devices only offer the user a frozen state of an application when swiping between programs. Some devices support interfaces offering multiple apps to a user within a single screen, but scaling these programs to fit together makes interacting with each app difficult.
Samsung filed this patent application with the USPTO in September 2013 to protect a method of enabling the interoperability of different applications within a single device user interface. This system allows a device user to link applications together in a stack for later use. A user can link a running application by opening the smart task manager tray through a long press gesture of the device’s home button.
Through this smart task manager, users can browse other applications on the device, both those that are running and those that are currently unopened. Dragging and dropping other applications onto the currently running application, displayed in a smaller window, ties the two programs together. This will provide a link icon that displays in the window of either application during use which provides for better interoperability between apps.
Claim 1 of this Samsung patent application would protect:
“A method for providing interoperability among applications in a device, the method comprises: linking at least one application with at least one running application; storing at least one content of the linked applications in a stack; and accessing the stack using a gesture on the device.”
It should be noted that the short length of this claim would make it a very valuable patent in contrast to many other software or computer-implemented method and process patents. We see plenty of patent applications with elongated claims in the Companies We Follow series, but a shortened claim with broad protections is desirable when protecting intellectual property. Of course, the shorter the claim the more likely there will be prior art.
Other Patent Applications (Images: displaying categories.png; creating ebook.png
Samsung has been making some big moves into the smartphone and handheld electronic device industries in recent days. To judge by some of the patent applications assigned to this company that we’ve noticed today, Samsung believes strongly in an interconnected future based on widespread use of Internet-connected electronic devices. Better methods of presenting hierarchical structures would be protected by U.S. Patent Application No. 20140082554, entitled Method and Electronic Device for Displaying Categories. This system would present large hierarchies in a categorical view, enabling better interaction with multi-tier menus or file directories through a small screen. U.S. Patent Application No. 20140082490, filed under the title User Terminal Apparatus for Providing Local Feedback and Method Thereof, would protect a system of presenting a virtual keyboard for text input on an electronic device. This “soft” virtual keyboard would better direct a user’s attention and focus to the text input screen, similar to the way a user interacts with a computer.
Improvements to digital media systems are the focus of a couple of other patent applications that Samsung has filed in recent months. Readers of eBooks are likely to have more control over their reading experience with the system described in U.S. Patent Application No. 20140082466, which is titled System and Method for Creating E-Book Including User Effects. This patent application would protect a system that allows users to insert effects of their choosing, such as animated content, into selected sections of eBook content. U.S. Patent Application No. 20140082224, titled Embedded Multimedia Card (eMMC), eMMC System Including the eMMC, and Method of Operating the eMMC, would protect a system of enabling flash memory storage for smartphones.
Issued Patents of Note (Images: personal broadcasting service.png; humanoid robot.png; device tested.png)
As far as patent portfolios are concerned, Samsung enjoys one of the strongest among any global corporation. In fact, Samsung Electronics was recently declared the second-best corporation for obtaining patent grants by IFI Claims, trailing behind only International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) for the most patents awarded during 2013. Just in the past week, this company has received more than 150 patents, many of which protect some truly revolutionary technologies.
Take, for example, the technology protected by U.S. Patent No. 8676381, entitled Humanoid Robot and Walking Control Method Thereof. This system protects improvements to finite state machine-based walking controls for bipedal, or two-legged, robots. These improvements enable better balance in response to environmental conditions and can help reduce the impact of joints on obstacles. Another kind of computer hardware innovation is protected by U.S. Patent No. 8675432, which is titled Semiconductor Device Capable of Being Tested After Packaging. This patent protects a method of applying test voltages to semiconductor devices after they have been packaged for consumer sale. Interestingly, we just featured a similar innovation in our recent coverage of Apple Inc.’s inventions, a patented technology for applying a voltage to a packaged electronic device so that a consumer can interact with it before buying.
Readers will likely be interested in a trio of novel digital technologies recently patented by Samsung. Fears about the spread of computer viruses through a multitude of Internet users may be allayed somewhat by the system protected by U.S. Patent No. 8677490, titled Method for Inferring Maliciousness of Email and Detecting a Virus Pattern. This system provides more proactive protections against spam messages that likely include viruses without using a database of virus knowledge that can first identify the malicious program. Electronic device users may be able to experience a fuller Internet experience through their mobile devices thanks to the technology protected by U.S. Patent No. 8677432, which is titled System and Method for Providing a Personal Broadcasting Service Using a Mobile Communication Terminal. This technology aims to alter the underlying concept of smartphone technologies by allowing users to publish personal data through a broadcasting module, shifting the focus from using devices primarily to download content. Finally, we were intrigued today by the energy-efficient technology protected by U.S. Patent No. 8676276, issued under the title Mobile Device Having Solar Cell and Power Control Method Thereof. This patent protects a system of incorporating solar energy collection with mobile electronic devices for providing extra battery life.