Apple Patent Applications Show Object & Face Recognition, Text Censoring, SMS Changes, Voice Output

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office published a sizable stack of approved Apple patent applications this morning, several of which dealt with software for the iPhone. The different patent applications paint an interesting picture, showing that they are considering things like object and face detection and recognition, text message filtering and interface changes, and voice output customization.

Systems and methods for identifying objects and providing information related to identified objects (# 20090175499)

The first patent discusses a technology that would allow a user to point the iPhone’s camera at an object in a setting. The software would then recognize the object, determine what it is, and provide relevant additional information about it. Possible methods for recognition would be either camera or image recognition technologies, RFID tags, barcode scanning, or other similar technologies. Different modes could also be set that would define the setting for the device, making it easier to recognize the object based on where it is (e.g. Museum, Restaurant, Electronics shop, etc).

Personal computing device control using face detection and recognition (#20090175509)

This patent describes various techniques that Apple might use to give the iPhone (and iMac) the ability to recognize faces that the camera is pointed at. Once these methods are implemented, facial recognition could be used as another way of triggering an operation, such as deciding access privileges and restrictions, deciding whether to put the device to sleep, etc.

Text Message Filtering

This patent describes different ways the iPhone could filter text-based communications in your iPhone. The main uses for this, as Apple explains, is censorship of objectionable text like swear words in an email for children, or to help someone learn a foreign language by forcing someone to send emails in it.

…control application includes an instructional tool or study aid where the administrator sets one or more modes, such as language, vocabulary, grammar, spelling, punctuation and/or other content of a text-based communication based on, for example, a user’s age or grade level. This can be especially useful, for example, such as when a child’s grades go down. A parent can then institute a condition to improve a child’s grades. For example, the control application may require a user during specified time periods to send messages in a designated foreign language, to include certain designated vocabulary words, or to use proper designated spelling, designated grammar and designated punctuation and like designated language forms based on the user’s defined skill level and/or designated language skill rating. If the text-based communication fails to include the required language or format, the control application may alert the user and/or the administrator/parent of the absence of such text.

SMS Interface Changes

A few of the patents Apple filed for deal with changes to the SMS messaging interface to make things a little more intuitive. The first, titled Multiple Recipient Messaging Service for Mobile Device (# 20090176517), deals with sending a message to multiple recipients at once. After a certain interval of time has passed, they suggest it would be useful for the app to check on the status of the messages to see if all of them were received. If it finds that some of the intended recipients didn’t get the message, it offers up an interface by which the sender could easily resend the message to those who didn’t get it, and also giving the option to send it the same way or through a different medium, like email.

Another patent application, titled Systems, methods and apparatus for providing unread message alerts (# 20090177617), suggests ways to make it easier to read unread messages. For example, it suggests checking to see if someone you are about to contact has sent you a message you haven’t read yet, it gives you a way of viewing the message before you contact them. It would cross-check unread SMSs, emails, voicemails, etc. for the contact that it things you’re about to contact.

Changing Voice Output In Your iPhone

Last but not least, one of the patents describes a way to alter voice output from your iPhone, such as the playback of audio files. The thing that immediately comes to mind is the reading of text, such as an ebook, but the patent instead suggests that it would be used for audio, not text.

Despite the restrictions involved in playing back audio files, users of media devices may wish to change the audio output of audio files. A mother, for example, might wish to change the narrator’s voice in a pre-recorded, commercially available audiobook to her own voice, so that her child can listen to the audiobook as narrated in the mother’s voice in her absence. In another scenario, a student listening to a lecture as a podcast file might want to change the audio of certain sections of the lecture to sound like someone else’s voice, so as to emphasize important parts of the lecture.

[via Unwired View]

View the comments on the forum…