Apple patents involve LED backlight, antenna, more
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Apple patents involve LED backlight, antenna, more

Among several patent wins today, Apple has been granted a patent (number 8,100,544) by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for a LED backlight for display systems. It relates generally to device display systems, and more particularly to an LED backlight with highly uniform color for illuminating display systems.

The invention is for an LED backlight method for display systems comprising receiving a plurality of light emitting diodes categorized into a plurality of bins, wherein each bin references a separate range of white point colors, and determining an optimal order for mounting the plurality of light emitting diodes at spatially distributed positions, the plurality of light emitting diodes comprising white point colors associated with separate bins, wherein the optimal order of the plurality of light emitting diodes produces a light of a desired white point color when the light outputs of the plurality of light emitting diodes are mixed. The inventors are Wei Chen, Jun Qi, Victor Yin and John Zhong.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "As computer technology has advanced, the demand for portable computer systems, such as laptops, has increased. Portable computers have dramatically increased the mobility of computing power for the computer user. Since the first portable computer, manufacturers have increased computer mobility by decreasing the size, weight, and power demands of portable computers, increasing battery life, and increasing performance.

"The monitors presently used contribute greatly to the overall size and weight of the portable computer. The monitor must be of a sufficient size, brightness, and clarity to provide the user with readable images. In order to achieve these requirements, monitors place a large demand on available power resources and are therefore a significant contributor indirectly as well as directly to the weight of the portable computer.

"Typically, portable computer monitors utilize a liquid crystal display system. The liquid crystal display systems typically include a top plastic or glass panel and a bottom plastic or glass panel, having a liquid crystal display of thin film transistors and liquid crystal material in between. These systems also utilize a backlight system that typically includes a diffuser for passing light evenly to the liquid crystal display, a cold cathode fluorescent lamp ('CCFL') for producing light, a reflector for directing the light toward the diffuser, and a light pipe located between the diffuser and the reflector to spread light to the entire surface of the diffuser.

"The use of conventional CCFL liquid crystal display systems in the monitors of portable computers, however, creates a limiting factor in the continuing effort to reduce the size and weight of portable computers. CCFL technology has not kept pace with advances in other technologies that have reduced the size and weight of many of the other display components. Today, one of the major limitations in further reducing the thickness and weight of the display is therefore the CCFL illumination system.

"Light-emitting diode ('LED') technology offers attractive alternatives to the CCFL. LEDs are much thinner than the CCFL and do not require many of the weighty power supply systems of the CCFL. Compared to backlights using CCFLs, backlights with LEDs have many benefits, including lighter weight, higher brightness, higher color purity, larger color gamut, longer lifetime, and mercury-free composition. However, while a single CCFL can light an entire display, multiple LEDs are needed to light comparable displays.

A challenge with utilizing multiple LEDs, particularly when distributed in large arrays, is maintaining uniformity of color throughout the large number of LEDs. The color balance and spectra of the LEDs is governed by numerous factors such as manufacturing variances and the LED phosphorescence. For example, white LEDs are often actually blue LEDs with a complimentary yellow phosphor dot on the front of the LED. Depending upon manufacturing precision (and thus, related manufacturing costs), actual colors may therefore vary from, for example, slightly blue to slightly pink, often following a distribution curve in which many of the LEDs vary from the desired white point color.

"This can have a negative impact on the color uniformity of LCD displays. Understandably, reducing or compensating for such variability increases costs and complexity significantly as the number of LEDs increases in larger display configurations and environments.

"One solution is to select and utilize only those LEDs that provide the desired white point color. Such a solution, however, causes costs to be very high since only a fraction of the LED production can be utilized.

"Another solution is to compensate for LED color variations, such as by matching LEDs to one another and then filtering the light output to adjust the color to the desired white point color. This reduces the overall cost of the LEDs since most or all of the LEDs can be utilized. However, the additional color filters represent costly additional physical elements, oftentimes requiring a large number of available filter colors of finely varying shades and gradations. It can also increase the thickness of the display. An additional disadvantage is that such filters absorb light, causing the net brightness of the LED light sources to be reduced.

"Thus, if LEDs are to become a viable alternative to CCFLs, an economical and practical solution must be found to utilize a large number of non-matching LEDs while maintaining uniformity of color in the display panels in which the LEDs are utilized.

"In view of ever-increasing commercial competitive pressures, increasing consumer expectations, and diminishing opportunities for meaningful product differentiation in the marketplace, it is increasingly critical that answers be found to these problems. Moreover, the ever-increasing need to save costs, improve efficiencies, improve performance, and meet such competitive pressures adds even greater urgency to the critical necessity that answers be found to these problems.

"Solutions to these problems have been long sought but prior developments have not taught or suggested any solutions and, thus, solutions to these problems have long eluded those skilled in the art.

"The present invention provides an LED backlight method and apparatus for display systems. A plurality of light emitting diodes having different white point colors is provided. At least two of the light emitting diodes having different white point colors are selected to produce a light of a predetermined white point color when the light outputs of the selected light emitting diodes are mixed. The selected light emitting diodes are mounted on a display panel in a predetermined order at spatially distributed positions for mixing their light outputs to produce the light of the predetermined white point color to illuminate the display panel with the light of the predetermined white point color.

"Certain embodiments of the invention have other aspects in addition to or in place of those mentioned above. The aspects will become apparent to those skilled in the art from a reading of the following detailed description when taken with reference to the accompanying drawings."

Apple has also been granted two patents related to its iPhone antenna.

Patent number 8102318 is for an inverted F-antenna with bandwidth enhancement for electronic devices. An inverted-F antenna is provided that has a resonating element arm and a ground element. A shorting branch of the resonating element arm shorts the resonating element arm to the ground element. An antenna feed that receives a transmission line is coupled to the resonating element arm and the ground element. One or more impedance discontinuity structures are formed along the resonating element arm at locations that are between the shorting branch and the antenna feed. The impedance discontinuity structures may include shorting structures and capacitance discontinuity structures.

The impedance discontinuity structures may be formed by off-axis vertical conductors such as vias that pass through a dielectric layer separating the antenna resonating element arm from the ground element. Capacitance discontinuity structures may be formed from hollowed portions of the dielectric or other dielectric portions with a dielectric constant that differs from that of the dielectric layer. The inventors are Bing Chiang and Enrique Ayala Vazquez.

Patent number 8102321 involves a cavity antenna for an electronic device. Per the patent, the antenna may be formed from a conductive cavity and an antenna probe that serves as an antenna feed. The conductive cavity may have the shape of a folded rectangular cavity. A dielectric support structure may be used in forming the antenna cavity. A fin may protrude from one end of the dielectric support structure. The antenna probe may be formed from conductive structures mounted on the fin.

An inverted-F antenna configuration or other antenna configuration may be used in forming the antenna probe. The electronic device may have a housing with conductive walls. When the cavity antenna mounted within an electronic device, a planar rectangular end face of the fin may protrude through a thin rectangular opening in the conductive walls to allow the antenna to operate without being blocked by the housing. Bing Chiang and Gregory A. Springer are the inventors.

Finally, several other Apple patents have been granted by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

Patent number 8102365 is for remote control systems that can distinguish stray light sources. Per the patent, the systems can distinguish predetermined light sources from stray light sources, e.g., environmental light sources and/or reflections are provided. The predetermined light sources can be disposed in asymmetric substantially linear or two-dimensional patterns. The predetermined light sources also can be configured to exhibit signature characteristics. The predetermined light sources also can output light at different signature wavelengths.

The predetermined light sources also can emit light polarized in one or more predetermined polarization axes. Remote control systems of the present invention also can include methods for adjusting an allocation of predetermined light sources and/or the technique used to distinguish the predetermined light sources from the stray light sources. The inventor is Brett G. Alten.

Patent number 8102728 involves cache optimizations using multiple threshold voltage transistors. In one embodiment, a memory circuit includes one or more memory cells that include transistors having a first nominal threshold voltage, and interface circuitry such as word line drivers and bit line control circuitry that includes one or more transistors having a second nominal threshold voltage that is lower than the first nominal threshold voltage. For example, the word line driver circuit may be driven by signals from a lower voltage domain than the memory circuit's voltage domain.

Lower threshold voltage transistors may be used for those signals, in some embodiments. Similarly, lower threshold voltage transistors may be used in the write data driver circuits. Other bit line control circuits may include lower threshold voltage transistors to permit smaller transistors to be used, which may reduce power and integrated circuit area occupied by the memory circuits. The inventors are Brian J. Campbell, Greg M. Hess and Hang Huang.

Patent RE43144 is for a system for predicting and managing network performance by managing and monitoring resource utilization and connection of the network. According to the system, network resource utilization is monitored and then computer systems seeking to transmit or receive data over the network as requested to do so at times that serve to more efficiently utilize the network resources. A method for managing network resources is also disclosed. David Z. Creemer is the inventor.

Patent number 8104048 involves browsing or searching user interfaces and more. The patent relates to systems, methods and software architectures for providing previews of files, such as previews of content of the files without launching the applications which created those files. In one embodiment, a method includes receiving a first call, through a first API to obtain a preview of content of a file, the first call being made by a first application program and being received by a preview generator daemon, and generating a request to obtain a first plug-in from a set of plug-ins, the first plug-in being configured to process a file type of the file to produce content in a format which can be displayed by the first application program. Other methods, systems, computer readable media and software architectures are disclosed. The inventors are Julien Jalon, Toby Paterson, Julien Robert and Yan Arrouye.

Patent number 8103951 involves dynamic schema creation. In a database application executing on a computer system, a database table view is represented by a structured object located on a storage device coupled to the computer system. Responsive to a user pasting content (e.g., spreadsheet data) onto the view of the table, the database application determines if the content to be pasted extends beyond the number of rows (records in a database) or columns (database fields) currently displayed in the table view.

If the content extends beyond the number of rows or columns currently displayed, the database application automatically adds one or more records or fields to the structured object on the storage device, and updates the table view to display one or more rows or columns corresponding to the records or fields added to the structured object. The inventors are Geoff Schuller and Yan Guo.

Patent number 8103893 is for thermal management of devices by suspension of offline diagnostic activities. The invention provides both a peripheral device that regulates its own temperature by adjusting its power consumption, and a method to accomplish the same. The method generally includes monitoring the temperature of the mass storage device and reducing power consumption when the temperature exceeds a certain threshold. Joel Burton is the inventor.

Patent number 8103793 involves a method and system for updating playlists. The invention involves improved techniques for automatic (or dynamic) updating (or maintaining) of playlists for a media system that stores and plays media content for a user of the media system. The automatic update to playlists can occur when additional media content is added to or removed from the media system. The automatic update to playlists can also occur when previously stored media content is otherwise altered. David Heller and Jeffrey L. Robbin are the inventors.

Patent number 8103505 is for a method and apparatus for speech synthesis using paralinguistic variation. A method and apparatus for speech synthesis in a computer-user interface using random paralinguistic variation is described. According to one aspect of the present invention, a method for synthesizing speech comprises generating synthesized speech having certain prosodic features. The synthesized speech is further processed by applying a random paralinguistic variation to the acoustic sequence representing the synthesized speech without altering the linguistic prosodic features.

According to one aspect of the present invention, the application of the paralinguistic variation is correlated with a previously applied paralinguistic variation to reflect a gradual change in the computer voice, while still maintaining a random quality. The inventors are Kim Silverman and Donald Lindsay.


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