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What Apple patents say about iPhone 7, iPad Air 3, Apple Watch, new Macs & other future products

Ashleigh Allsopp | Feb. 5, 2015
We examine Apple's patent portfolio to uncover clues to future iPhones, iPads, Macs, the Apple Watch and unreleased products like the Apple Television.

The patent describes earbuds that can measure how well they are sealed to user's ears in order to adjust the audio to provide the optimum listening experience. 

Apple accessory patents: Advanced Smart Cover/ Smart Case
Apple has published several patents relating to its Smart Cover and Smart Case designs for the iPad. Each patent adds advanced functionality to the cases.

In June 2014, USPTO published an Apple patent filing for an "Integrated visual notification system in an accessory device," which describes an iPad case or cover that can protect the screen while also providing illuminated alerts when the iPad gets a notification, for example.

An Apple patent that emerged in March describes an iPad Smart Cover that acts as an inductive charging point to provide wireless power to the iPad and other devices.

When Apple sent out the invitations for its iPad Air launch, it was widely expected that Apple was about to launch such accessory, as the company hinted "We still have a lot to cover."

Another Smart Cover that Apple's been investigating features an integrated multitouch keyboard. The keyboard, while part of the Smart Cover, can be detached for more comfortable use.

What Apple patents say about future tech
While many of Apple's patents can be related to current Apple products, some are extra advanced and seem quite futuristic. Here's a peek of what the future could hold if the technology listed in Apple's patents ever becomes a reality.

Apple future tech: Siri-controlled home
Apple has been granted patents for a system of sensors that could allow Siri to take over your house. Together, the network of sensors could be used to detect motion, time, light and more to help Siri provide relevant information and carry out actions.

One example used in the patent filings is that Siri could remind you to take your medicine when it detects that it is 8am and you're in the kitchen (presumably where your pills and water are).

This patent was actually filed back in 2005, before the first iPhone had even launched (the original iPhone came later in 2007). The patent references other patents that date all the way back to the 1970s, so it's clear that voice control has been a keen interest for Apple for years.

Apple has already kicked off its HomeKit movement, and speculation suggests that Apple will make Siri part of a new Apple TV that will act as a hub for the smart home system.

Apple future tech: Virtual reality head mounted display
Apple has been awarded two patents by USPTO that cover head mounted displays, one that would work in a similar way to the Oculus Rift, allowing users to play immersive games wearing the goggles, and another that takes a more Google Glass approach with a smaller design.

 

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