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iPhone Sensors and iChat VOIP Integration?

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Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
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A recently published patent application discovered by MacRumors reveals that Apple has been researching more advanced uses of the built in sensors on the iPhone to predict what the user wants to do. The patent application describes various scenarios in which a mobile phone could automatically change its configuration based on built-in sensors.

Apple describes the use of proximity sensors, ambient light detectors, temperature sensors and accelerometers to help determine the current state of the device. Apple has already incorporated basic state detection into the iPhone. When a user holds the current iPhone to their ear, the proximity sensor disables the touch screen to prevent unintentional key presses.

Combined with similar sensors in Bluetooth wireless headsets, Apple proposes some additional possibilities:

- Accelerometer to determine if device is being picked up
- Temperature, ambient light, and proximity sensors to determine if device in a pocket
- Proximity to see if the phone is held up to your ear or Bluetooth headset is being worn
- Audio detection to see if you start talking into Bluetooth headset vs phone

Based on a combination of these situations, the iPhone could change configuration. Examples given include: Turning vibrating ring on when placed in your pocket. Turning off speakerphone when holding the phone to your ear. Routing the call correctly to your wireless headset or your phone depending on which one you are planing on using at that time (based on speaking into, wearing or picking up the appropriate device).

One final intriguing possibility also described is using the docking/undocking of the iPhone to trigger certain events.




Mock design from ACU
Specifically, Apple describes passing off voice over IP (VOIP) calls from the computer to the phone and back again. With the phone docked, the user could answer the phone using their computer's speaker and microphone, and then automatically pass this call over to the phone when it is removed from the dock. This passing-off of phone calls between the iPhone and iChat was previously depicted in a concept iPhone video (at 14m 15s) by Abilene Christian University.

Article Link
 

arn

macrumors god
Staff member
Apr 9, 2001
15,509
4,022
note: patent application does not list Apple by name, but patent application itself back-references other Apple patents, and inventors are Apple employees responsible for other patent applications assigned to Apple.
 
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amusiccale

macrumors 6502
Jun 5, 2007
310
0
Apple-designed VoIP would be beautiful to have on the iPhone and glorious if it were to be passed onto the next gen. Touch. And the other sensing possibilities are pretty exciting.
 
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nerdbert

macrumors regular
Nov 7, 2007
115
0
Berlin, Germany
One final intriguing possibility also described is using the docking/undocking of the iPhone to trigger certain events.

This is really easy to do and I'm wondering why they didn't implement it yet. I've got the dock next to my bed and i would really appreciate it turning to silent mode whenever it's connected. There is no reason to vibrate when I receive spam at 3 am.
 
Comment

mainstreetmark

macrumors 68020
May 7, 2003
2,228
293
Saint Augustine, FL
I'm a bit concerned that a device that tries to anticipate what I want to do will end up getting it wrong often enough for me to be frustrated by it.

However, if the iPhone automatically went into vibrate mode when in a pocket, that would be very nice, as it would (to an extent) reduce the number of cellphone rings I encounter daily.

Bee da booo.. da be da booo.. da be da booo... da deee
 
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grimmace

macrumors regular
Feb 9, 2003
231
68
Boston
Att

Yeah ok, I switch from my call on iphone to my mac through ichat and then can pick up that call again on my phone... all the while ATT is charging me for my call even though I switched to the mac? no thanks. might as well hang up knowing the person is online and just chat that way.
 
Comment

KindredMAC

macrumors 6502a
Sep 23, 2003
972
209
The biggest feature I have wanted on mine is the ability to have the iPhone ring through my external computer speakers when docked. That way I don't miss a call while the iPhone is charging/syncing in my home office and I am down the hall in the kitchen getting dinner ready where I can't hear the normal ring. The extra feature of taking your call through microphone and speakers on the computer is an AWESOME idea.

Plus how cool would it be to pick up your iPhone from the table surface, put it to your ear and it automatically answers the call without having to slide or push anything?
 
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amysig

macrumors member
Mar 22, 2008
41
0
I would love for the phone to wake and unlock magically when I picked it up. But how do you program for the times when you don't want it to turn on?

Seems tricky. I'm still disappointed in the UI when it comes to in-car usage for the iPod app. The buttons need to be much bigger, like the entire left and right side of the screen for next/prev track. Also, it's a pain to have to slide to unlock in order to get to the next track.
 
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mainstreetmark

macrumors 68020
May 7, 2003
2,228
293
Saint Augustine, FL
I would love for the phone to wake and unlock magically when I picked it up. But how do you program for the times when you don't want it to turn on?

Seems tricky. I'm still disappointed in the UI when it comes to in-car usage for the iPod app. The buttons need to be much bigger, like the entire left and right side of the screen for next/prev track. Also, it's a pain to have to slide to unlock in order to get to the next track.

I completely agree!

I really have no love at all for the iPod in the iPhone, despite Steve claiming it's the best. The lack of clickwheel is infuriating for tracking through a podcast, and the tiny scrubber is too useless. Ratings? difficult. Coverflow? it does the entire collection, vs the playlist, unlike iTunes.

That whole thing really needs to be re-worked out.

(PS: you don't have to unlock it to skip to the next song. You can 2xClick when it's locked and it'll expose track controls when a song is playing)
 
Comment

Small White Car

macrumors G4
Aug 29, 2006
10,925
1,234
Washington DC
It's been clear that Apple has been putting all their effort into just making the phone work at all. Don't get me wrong, they did a great job, but it's obvious that software 2.0 is the version they wanted to have last year, but just couldn't get done in time.

But now that they've achieved that, I think we'll really start to see some amazing things over the next few years.

It's kind of like how OSX got faster and more stable for the first few years, but it wasn't until Tiger and Leopard that we started getting really big features like Dashboard, Spotlight, Spaces, and Time Machine. I think we're just now reaching the point where Apple can focus on "big features" for the iPhone.

Should be fun!
 
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bbeers

macrumors regular
Dec 14, 2007
159
5
Maryland
Ohhh but you can

I would love for the phone to wake and unlock magically when I picked it up. But how do you program for the times when you don't want it to turn on?

Seems tricky. I'm still disappointed in the UI when it comes to in-car usage for the iPod app. The buttons need to be much bigger, like the entire left and right side of the screen for next/prev track. Also, it's a pain to have to slide to unlock in order to get to the next track.

You don't have to unlock it at all. you can set it up to that a double tap on the home button brings up the iPod controls. Thats how I have mine set and it makes it using it as an iPod so much better.

Settings> General > Home Button
You will see there some helpful settings
 
Comment

GregA

macrumors 65816
Mar 14, 2003
1,247
15
Sydney Australia
Apple describes passing off voice over IP (VOIP) calls from the computer to the phone and back again. With the phone docked, the user could answer the phone using their computer's speaker and microphone, and then automatically pass this call over to the phone when it is removed from the dock.

Interesting and useful - but why is this a patent application? The whole IMS concept involves switching data communication (phone calls, sms, video conference) between phones and desktop computers on demand. I guess the only unique aspect is that it is said to be triggered as the phone is docked or undocked (which seems obvious, a pity to have to patent it). Oh,... and they dont sell a dock with the new 3G iPhone do they?.

Yeah ok, I switch from my call on iphone to my mac through ichat and then can pick up that call again on my phone... all the while ATT is charging me for my call even though I switched to the mac? no thanks. might as well hang up knowing the person is online and just chat that way.

Yeah - the patent seems to say that if you're on a mobile call and plug the iphone in, it would route the audio to the computer (ie: don't use the internet, just the computer) - so AT&T still makes their money.

In the other direction, if you're on a VoIP chat and you pick up the phone, the computer routes the VoIP wirelessly to the phone (not sure if it's via Wifi or 3G). That seems a good idea especially in the US where the mobile owner pays to receive calls anyway, though in Europe and Australia we don't pay anything to receive a call so it could be perceived negatively.
 
Comment

Rojo

macrumors 65816
Sep 26, 2006
1,328
241
Barcelona
Aw man - I saw "Sensors" and "iChat," and immediately thought of something else. :D

Still, these all sounds like really cool ideas -- especially the "sensing in the pocket" one, which would help me a lot.
 
Comment

Kwill

macrumors 68000
Mar 10, 2003
1,595
1
Some features like docking and bluetooth detection can be useful if accurate. However, too much prediction can be problematic. Examples:
  1. In noisy environments, I turn on the speaker and hold the iPhone to my ear.
  2. With loose fitting pants, vibration cannot be felt.
  3. A fitted leather case or within briefcase slot audible ring may be desirable when sensor assumes phone is in pant pocket.
  4. I can't think of one instance where I wanted to continue a conversation in iChat.
Each of these features would require preferences so users could exercise the option to disable them.
 
Comment

tony22

macrumors newbie
Jun 14, 2008
6
0
Other links

a link to location sensors would offer possibilities too, and a link to the calendar - e.g switch to silent when in a meeting
 
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corygreenwell

macrumors member
Feb 12, 2008
69
12
Why doesn't Apple require that they're listed on the face of the patent application as assignee. Are you sure that Nicholas Kalayjian is an Apple Inc. inventor? I notice that Mr. Kalayjian has 10 published patents, two of which mention Apple and 2 (seemingly) separate ones published with WIPO. Are we sure he's not just someone hoping to sell his idea to Apple?
 
Comment

parapup

macrumors 65816
Oct 31, 2006
1,291
49
Yeah...

Routing the call correctly to your wireless headset

Now only if they could fix the Bluetooth stack to provide stereo audio / A2DP - otherwise this feature - no one will use! :rolleyes:
 
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kornyboy

macrumors 68000
Sep 27, 2004
1,529
0
Knoxville, TN (USA)
Wirelessly posted (iPhone: Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU like Mac OS X; en) AppleWebKit/420.1 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/3.0 Mobile/4A102 Safari/419.3)

amusiccale said:
Apple-designed VoIP would be beautiful to have on the iPhone and glorious if it were to be passed onto the next gen. Touch. And the other sensing possibilities are pretty exciting.

I agree it would be nice even if it was only available when you were connected to wireless network. Also being able to switch the call to a computer by simply docking the phone would also be awesome.
 
Comment

eyephone

macrumors member
Oct 5, 2007
84
0
Plus how cool would it be to pick up your iPhone from the table surface, put it to your ear and it automatically answers the call without having to slide or push anything?

This is simply brilliant. Lets start thinking outside of the box. I love it.

I also love the idea that if I had the iphone in speakerphone mode, and then I put it to my face it would switch back to the handset sepaker.......nice.
 
Comment

gkarris

macrumors G3
Dec 31, 2004
8,288
1,036
"No escape from Reality...”
- Temperature, ambient light, and proximity sensors to determine if device in a pocket WITH YOU IN THE BACK SEAT OF A CAR WITH YOUR FAVORITE GIRL. :D

- Accelerometer to determine if device..... you know.... ;)

The iPhone can then automatically call girl's parents, and switch to speaker phone to let said parents listen in on the "conversation".... :eek:

Whole new meaning for "Smartphone"....
 
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eyephone

macrumors member
Oct 5, 2007
84
0
- Temperature, ambient light, and proximity sensors to determine if device in a pocket WITH YOU IN THE BACK SEAT OF A CAR WITH YOUR FAVORITE GIRL. :D

- Accelerometer to determine if device..... you know.... ;)

The iPhone can then automatically call girl's parents, and switch to speaker phone to let said parents listen in on the "conversation".... :eek:

Whole new meaning for "Smartphone"....

SmartASSphone
 
Comment

MrSmith

macrumors 68040
Nov 27, 2003
3,046
14
Howzabout a phone that turns blue when I switch to Anglo-Saxon? Or that turns bright pink when I breathe too heavily?
 
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