Nike cell phone patent references Apple? (updated)
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Nike cell phone patent references Apple? (updated)

Also interesting to note is the fact that on [url=http://www.macsimumnews.com/index.php/archive/apple_coo_tim_cook_named_to_nike_board/]November 18, 2005,[/url] Apple Computer's chief operating officer, [url=http://www.apple.com/pr/bios/cook.html]Timothy Cook,[/url] began serving on the board of directors of sportswear giant Nike. Coincidence? Maybe, maybe not.

What struck me particularly about Nike's patent was that they make it very clear that the "communication device need not be a cellular telephone. Instead, the communication device may be a portable telephone coupled to a wireline telephone network, a wireline telephone, a pager, a personal digital assistant (PDA), a portable computer, such as a laptop or palm-type computer, or any communication device capable of initiating a communication. The term communication device, and the examples given herein, is used broadly and generically to refer to any communication device that may be adapted to operate as described herein."

Yes, that means that this communications device could be used on or with future Apple notebooks. Yet perhaps more interesting is that it could also be applicable to a future iPod. Since the patent describes other handhelds, then the iPod could definitely be in the running. Yet to be accurate, the reference to Apple in this patent, is definitely pertaining to a "Mouse-type computer Input device" (Hmm, perhaps the catch here is the description of "Mouse-type"). On the other hand, the bulk of the patent definitely describes elements that would only apply to handhelds, as you'll see below.

What's cool about this communications device is that it isn't your typical cell phone in many ways. The device incorporates a number of new elements not found on any of today's cell phones. So just for the sake of interest, I'll present a few excerpts of the patent for the curious to peruse, as follows.
Nike's Unique Macro-Manipulation

The following are random excerpts taken from Nike's patent application 20050048955 which directly relates to Nike's granted patent on March 7, 2006.

A user of a communication device may initiate a communication, i.e., a telephone call, a text message, a page, an alert and the like, silently, via a macro-manipulation of the communication device and without having to identify a particularly button or sequence of buttons on the communication device. The communication device may include housing into which is disposed a sensor that detects the macro-manipulation of the communication device by the user. An output from the sensor is associated with a particular communication context, e.g., a particularly telephone number to which a call is to be completed, a communication device to which a text message is to be sent and the contents of the text message, an email address to which an email is to be sent, a pager to which either a page number, text or numeric message is to be sent, and the like. Responsive to the output from the sensor, the communication device initiates the communication according to the define context. Thus, a user of the communication device may initiate a communication in total darkness, without removing the communication device from a purse or pocket, and without having to identify a particular key or keys on the communication device.

To avoid the possibility of inadvertently triggering the communication, such as by simply grasping the housing too firmly or by other circumstances that may cause the sensor to provide an output signal to the processor, a protocol for initiating the communication may be implemented. To initiate the communication the user is first required to twice quickly squeeze the housing of the communication unit shown by the pulses. This action, similar to the "double click" action taken with a mouse input device on a computer, causes the communication unit to provide the response indicated on line, which is to provide a haptic response, such as a vibratory alert. The user, during the period of the haptic response, again squeezes the housing to generate a signal from the sensor. The communication unit responsive to the sensor input ends the haptic alert, and initiates the communication.

As described, a communication unit, such as communication device, provides an ability to silently and covertly initiate a selected communication. A user may initiate a selected communication without having to identify, select or manipulate pushbuttons or other input devices on the communication unit, which are constantly shrinking in size. That is, the user may initiate the communication with a macro-manipulation of the communication device. Additionally, in an emergency situation, the user may summon help without revealing that such a request for help has been initiated, as the microphone of the communication device will be active and capture and transmit all audio activity taking place around the calling party.

The communication need not be a telephone call to a predefined number. The communication may be a text message, a two-way communication alert, an email, a page or other such text, data, recorded message or recorded voice communication.

NOTICE

Macsimum News presents only a brief summary of patents with associated graphic(s) for journalistic news purposes as each such patent application and/or grant is revealed by the U.S. Patent & Trade Office. Readers are cautioned that the full text of any patent applications and/or grants should be read in its entirety for further details.

Neo Notes

For the record, I'm not reporting that this is related to the speculative Apple iPhone in any way shape or form. I'm simply pointing out the fact that there's a connection between Apple and this particular Nike communication device patent, however a minor role that may be. The fact that Tim Cook sits on Nike's board is another direct link between these two companies that can't be denied.

So, if Apple so chooses to adopt any part of this technology in a future notebook and/or iPod, then at least you'll have had a heads up as to what it could entail.

If you have an opinion on this unique Nike patent, then email me at neo@macsimumnews.com

'Macsimum' readers respond big time!

image

Feedback has been heavy on this report and Macsimum readers may have hit the nail on the head. Most respondents pointed to the hidden button feature on Apple's Mighty Mouse that uses the same squeeze action that this patent presents. Apple's web site [url=]demonstrates[/url] this feature, and contains the following information:

Unlike any other mouse on the market, Mighty Mouse was designed specifically to work with Mac OS X Tiger. Up-to-the minute information on Dashboard is only a click away. Viewing, hiding and selecting your windows via Exposé is just as simple. And because Mac OS X Tiger makes Mighty Mouse [url=http://www.apple.com/mightymouse/software.html]programmable[/url], you choose where every click takes you.

Patent verbiage that I didn't originally include in this report would support this as follows:

"The user may then provide one, two, three or more squeezes, quickly in sequence, to indicate that a first, a second or a third communication, and so on, is to be initiated. The particular communication corresponding with the number of squeezes, one, two or three, for example, are retained in the memory."

The excellent feedback provided by Macsimum readers would go a long way to explain the patent's reference to Apple's Mouse to the letter. Furthermore, one respondent by the name of John Sanchez added that "It looks like the center circle just under the Nike phone screen could be the "nub" that Apple has on all their current mice." That was interesting because when I double checked the patent for a "camera," which I took for granted that it was representing, there was no such reference to be found! Hmm, that "nub" may very well provide the same functionality as Apple's Mighty Mouse. So, the bottom line for Macsimum readers is – Job well done gang!

Note: There was an error in the report. The patent number that contains the details of the functionality of the phone should have been 20050048955, not 20040048955. Sorry for any inconvenience.

 

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