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7/10/2009
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Apple Files For More iPhone Patents

Future iPhones may have facial recognition, object recognition, and text message filtering capabilities.

Apple iPhone 3GS
(click image for larger view)
Apple iPhone 3GS

Apple has filed for a brace of patents that give some insight about what could be in future iPhone smartphones. The July 9 patent application came a week after Apple applied for touchscreen-related patents.

One of the patents is called ID App, and it would enable an iPhone, or other portable device, to display various amounts of data on nearby objects. The device could use the camera, an RFID reader, or a GPS chip to identify objects, and then compare those against multiple databases. For example, a user could take a picture of a landmark, and the app could use meta-data along with GPS to determine what it is, and then bring up the landmark's Wikipedia page.

"After an object has been identified, the portable electronic device can provide additional information about the identified object," the patent application said. "In some embodiments, the portable electronic device can search for the additional information based on the previously defined mode. In some embodiments, the portable electronic device can provide additional information with incrementally increasing levels of detail."

Nokia has released something similar with its Point & Find program. Users can snap a picture of a movie poster with their phone's camera and then receive a movie trailer, information, or directions to the nearest theater playing the film.

Another filing suggests future Apple devices could have facial-recognition technology. This could be used for security purposes by limiting who can authorize the device. Most Macintosh laptops already come with built-in cameras. For this to be effective with the iPhone, a future version would likely have to have a front-facing camera.

The company also filed for patents that could filter text messages for obscene content, better manage visual voicemails, and changing the voice output on iPhones. The patent application may be seen here.


The iPhone smartphone may be your next computer. InformationWeek has published an independent analysis of this topic. Download the report here (registration required).

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