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Apple wins two new patents including tablet proximity detector

Expectations and excitement are at a fever pitch for the hoped-for tablet announcement, but that hasn't stopped Apple's lawyers from earning their keep. Just in the past few days, they've nailed down two more patents, one of which has to do with tablet-style technology. That's a "proximity detector," which is supposed to track when an object is near but not touching a tablet's screen. Unfortunately, the legalese is a little shadowy, so I'm not quite sure what a setup would be used for, but it appears that they're talking about controlling something on screen when you move your fingers close to it -- i.e., a keyboard that pops up when you are about to put your hands on the tablet itself. I'm sure there are other uses for that as well, though, and of course just because Apple is pursuing a patent doesn't mean we'll see that technology in the announcement.

The other patent has to do with video conferencing, and automatically determining bandwidth available in a connection and then making adjustments based on the range of that bandwidth. That simply sounds like a more reliable way of adjusting video quality in an application like iChat, and again, just because Apple has applied for a patent doesn't mean we'll see it running in the next version or at all. But even so soon before a big announcement like this one, we're still seeing Apple go after some of their more original ideas.

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