The Roomba is generally regarded as a cute little robot friend that no one but dogs would consider to be a potential menace. But for the last couple of years, the robovacs have been quietly mapping homes to maximise efficiency. Now, the device's makers plan to sell that data to smart home device manufacturers, turning the friendly robot into a creeping, creepy little spy.
Tagged With patents
Apple's automatic shotgun approach to patent filing means we get all sorts of weird and wonderful insights into the imaginations of the company's designers, who have come up with everything from "sick vapes" to phones made entirely from glass. The most recent patent appears to err on the more conventional side of design, proffering a contraption that combines a phone or tablet with a notebook "shell".
Last week, the US Patent and Trademarks office handed down a decision in one of the most high-profile patent cases of the century. In a one sentence ruling, an appeals board granted the rights to the powerful gene editing technology CRISPR-Cas9 to the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, while leaving the door open for rival CRISPR pioneer UC Berkeley to file a new patent to lay claim to those same discoveries.
On Tuesday, the US Patent and Trademark Office granted Apple a patent that gives credence to those rumours of an edge-to-edge OLED iPhone. For years, users have longed for a phone that's totally made up of a screen — no bezel needed — and this looks like one way it could happen.
With so much information online, coders can cook up scrapers to gather all sorts of data and present it in an interesting format. Even a topic as boring as patents can become a curious novelty just by looking up the ones expiring, say, today and making them browsable to the world at large. And that's Expatents in a nutshell.
We get it Samsung, it's hard playing second fiddle to Apple. You owe them a billion dollars from a four-year-old patent lawsuit, because the Samsung Galaxy was a lot like the iPhone. Another time you got a smartwatch to market, and then Apple descended from the clouds of Cupertino to declare to the world that it has revolutionised mobile electronics with the creation of a truly revolutionary smartwatch, and everyone lost their damned minds. That's a rough life you got there buddy.
With millions of tourists visiting its theme parks around the world each year, it makes sense that Disney would want to track how visitors move about its attractions to help minimise lines and crowds and also to provide a unique experience for each guest. But does it have to sound so incredibly creepy?
The thumbwheel was the signature feature of BlackBerry's original handsets, and while touchscreens have made them mostly obsolete, the Apple Watch proves there's still a place for physical dials. But is Apple finally planning to introduce that rotating crown to the iPhone or iPad? A recently published patent suggests that the company might be considering it.
Florida man Thomas Ross believes that he divined the future of human communication 15 years before Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone. Ross scribbled together a patent application for a device back in 1992, and claims that Apple stole his design. Now, the Florida man is suing Apple for over $US10 billion ($13.4 billion).
Merging biology with electronics isn't a question of if, but when. Some enterprising biohackers have even decided that the time is now. Google-parent Alphabet appears to be preparing for our cybernetic future with a new patent for electronics that can be injected onto your eye.
Even on a hot summer day, the outside temperature at 9200m can hit 45 below zero. Ice forming on a plane's fuselage is inevitable, despite how dangerous it can be. So to help ensure planes can survive freezing temperatures, Boeing is developing fake plastic ice to make it easier to test its aircraft.
Mattel might be the first to market with a 3D printer aimed at kids, but Hasbro isn't sitting by and letting its main competitor have all the 3D fun. The company just patented a kid-friendly 3D scanner that can digitise small objects using a smartphone's camera and clever software.