Recent Apple Patents Suggest Upcoming Facial Recognition, Improved Videoconferencing Systems

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Date: Friday, July 10th, 2009, 04:28
Category: Apple, Patents

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Recently-released filings from the United States Patent and Trademark Office reveal that Apple may be planning face-detection components for its Mac and iPhone operating systems, in addition to working on ways to netter the quality of video conferences conducted via iChat.

According to MacRumors, a current filing builds upon ways in which users may be able to passively interface with their Macs in the near future.

Apple notes that one problem with existing personal computing devices is that they’re not able to determine whether a non-active or passive user is present and, subsequently, unable to perform certain operations to accommodate the passive user.

“For example, a PC may automatically activate a screen saver every five minutes regardless of whether a user is viewing the PC’s display screen,” Apple wrote. “Thus, a passive user is often inconveniently required to actively perform an interaction with the PC at least every five minutes to prevent the initiation of the screen saver or to deactivate the screen save after it is initiated.”

Another problem is that conventional systems cannot efficiently determine whether certain users have the authority to perform certain functions without first forcing them to manually enter a password.

Remedies to both these problems may lie in face-detection software, according to the document. Using a Mac’s built-in iSight camera, face detection software may be based on a pattern recognition algorithm that includes a statistical model, the company says. The software that detects faces in the captured images could then associate them with an authorized, as well as inform the system that a user is present in situations when manual interaction has stopped for an extended period.

The document noted that in addition to a Mac, face detection can be applied a cellular telephone, a wireless communications device, a media player, an MP3 player, a video player, and a PDA.

Another filing proposes solutions to many common imaging problems, such as unevenly distributed illumination, shadows, white balance adjustment, colored ambient light and high dynamic range imaging. A recent Apple filing states that systems and methods can be provided through a Mac can take advantage of the computer’s processing power to provide functionality that goes beyond a typical camera.

In one odd example apparently aimed at improving video conferencing, the company proposes an iMac with embedded lights that retract into the system’s housing. The filing states that a processor in the iMac would be able to control the deployment and operation of the lights in combination with other sensors to provide the ideal lighting setting.

iPhone 3GS Upload Speeds Peak at 384 Kbps

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Date: Friday, July 10th, 2009, 03:23
Category: iPhone 3GS

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The cat may be out of the bag as a recent Macworld article points out that while Apple’s recently-released iPhone 3GS is capable of much faster download speeds than the previous generations, its upload speeds could stand to see some improvement. While the handset boasts a 7.2 Mbps HSDPA downstream, which is twice the iPhone 3G’s 3.6 Mbps HSDPA speed, it was assumed that Apple would also be increasing upstream speeds by finally adding HSUPA, bringing upload speeds to either 1.4 or 1.9 Mbps.

A recent RapidRepair teardown revealed this not to be the case. When the group cracked open their iPhone 3GS, they found that it still only had a UMTS/HSDPA chip. While it had increased HSDPA speeds, it only supported UMTS, the earliest 3G upload protocol in the U.S., which is only capable of peak speeds of 384 Kbps.

While download speeds with the 3GS are quite a bit faster (or will be in the U.S. when AT&T finishes their 7.2 network), upload speeds remain comparatively slow.