Patents aplenty: iPhone radio, fiber optic MagSafe, 3D without glasses
Apple's patent team must be cramming before the end of the year, because this past week we've seen a flood of patent applications come out of Cupertino. First up, Apple has patented a radio system in the iPhone (finally!), allowing you to listen to standard FM and AM broadcasts on the smartphone. The patent itself also includes an idea for a satellite radio connection, as well as a card to plug into Macs that would do the same thing. And there's a radio map idea as well, that would chart and let you browse nearby radio stations. Pretty cool idea -- hopefully we'll see it in the next iPhone revision.
Next up is a new version of the MagSafe power adapter that could include a fiber optic channel, so that the cord not only carries a power connection, but can also transmit data to and from another unit equipped to provide both (Intel's Light Peak technology isn't mentioned in the patent, but it would probably work). You can see four pins in the current MagSafe connector, but this fiber optic node would sit right in the middle of those. Cool idea, though it seems like the actual implementation would need to be worked on a little bit further.
Finally, Apple's also picked up patents for a 3D rendering system that would allow you to see live 3D in a room without glasses. This one's complicated -- it would track a user's position, and then send separate images to their right and left eyes through multiple projectors. This patent was actually filed a few years ago, so it's likely a hairbrained idea Apple had at the time, rather than anything that will eventually see the light of day. At least Apple's keeping up the creativity for us, right?
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