Feeds

back to article Did your iPhone 'just stop working' - or did you drop it in your BEER?

Apple was awarded patents on 21 of its design and engineering applications yesterday - including one for a head-mounted immersive visual display. The other 20 are a little less visionary, but at least one of the patents awarded could have an impact on fanbois who have given their phones an immersive watery experience. Patent 8, …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.

Page:

They've done this for ages, haven't they?

If you've had the misfortune to drop a ipod in a pond, you can see something has gone red at the bottom of the headphone socket. At least someone told me this after I dropped mine in a pond, and there was something red there but I hadn't checked before.

12
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: They've done this for ages, haven't they?

Not just inside the headphone socket, but also in the dock connecter and (I believe) one buried deep inside the phone.

The Apple "Genius" will look with a torch (possibly after being unable to find his own @rse due to lack of mirror) into the headphone and dock connectors and rebuff your claims, despite them being easily triggered by moisture in the air. You can argue and get them to do a more thorough check by getting them to inspect the internal sensors, but they don't tend to do this voluntarily.

10
0
Bronze badge

Re: They've done this for ages, haven't they?

I was thinking the same thing.

Hell, Mythbusters once showed you a little sticker they bought that detect excessive G-force and goes a different colour so you could track what happened to your shipped items, etc.

I fail to believe that this patent is actually novel at all. Are you telling me that temperature-controlled and other monitored shipping doesn't already have things like this anyway? My first thought would be medical and chemical packaging companies, given what can happen to some things if they've been sitting in water.

And, honestly, even modern silica gel goes pink/blue when it has accrued water (but you can dry it out to return it to a clear colour, which is obviously not useful here).

5
0
Holmes

Re: They've done this for ages, haven't they?

Yes, they've done it for ages which makes sense since the original patent was submitted in 2006.

"This application is a continuation of patent application Ser. No. 11/636,152, filed Dec. 7, 2006, which is hereby incorporated by referenced herein in its entirety."

3
6
Bronze badge

Re: They've done this for ages, haven't they?

Yes, but they don't bloody work (or they work a bit too well). A few iPhones I know of that haven't been 'watered' have been sent back as water damaged. I seem to recall something on Watchdog about it too...

8
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: They've done this for ages, haven't they?

>This application is a continuation of patent application Ser. No. 11/636,152, filed Dec. 7, 2006

The prior art is strong with this one. Note the dates.

8
0
Paris Hilton

Is that prior art?

How many of those had indicators on their headphone jacks?

0
9
Silver badge

Re: They've done this for ages, haven't they?

I've seen advertisements from 3M tape products (over ten years ago, in engineering journals) that are aimed electronics manufacturers- one adhesive tape irreversibly changes colour if immersed in water but is not affected by water vapour, so can tell the difference between a humid pocket and and a glass of water.

I rather prefer Motorola's solution - make the bloody phone waterproof.

13
0
Silver badge

Re: Is that prior art?

Did they patent water sensors on headphone jacks?

Or water sensors in electronic devices?

1
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: They've done this for ages, haven't they?

"I fail to believe that this patent is actually novel at all."

Its an APPLE patent!! Durr!

Copies of copies.

4
1
Silver badge

Re: They've done this for ages, haven't they?

I don't think I can recall ever seeing a mobile phone WITHOUT these little white spots that turn red when they get wet. So if I'm reading this correctly, Apple's patenting it because they stuck it in a different spot on the phone?

1
0
Boffin

Re: They've done this for ages, haven't they?

Sorry if someone else has already said this but...

A little household bleach (diluted to perhaps 1:4) is enough to oxidise the dye molecules back to colourless. Dipping something like an unwound paper-clip in the dilute bleach solution and then touching the indicator paper with it is enough in most cases.

Better living through chemistry...

3
0

Re: Is that prior art?

Well can you list prior art or are you like Fox news and just spout crap that supports your ideas but provide no substance?

0
3

Re: Is that prior art?

So what Apple is patenting is the position of the sensor? That's genius. So, if Samsung puts their sensor 25 millimeters to the right, that circumvents the patent, right?

0
0
Pint

Re: They've done this for ages, haven't they?

There's a third possibility. After being outside in -40° winter temperatures and then entering a warm and humid environment, liquid water will condense out of the air onto cold surfaces. This may include an iPhone, both inside and outside surfaces. If once doesn't do it, repeat the process.

Apple in warm California almost certainly failed to account for this 'false positive'. False in the sense that the customer perhaps did not dunk the phone in liquid. This may explain at least some of the complaints.

0
0
Bronze badge
Mushroom

Re: Is that prior art?

Prior art? Forget that - it's neither non-obvious nor is their an inventive step involved (patent regime depending).

0
0

Errm...

Don't iPhones already have four of these?

1
0

Re: Errm...

Just because it's hitting the news today doesn't mean it's a new patent. It was filed 6 years ago.

0
1
Silver badge

Re: Errm...

How old is a Sony Ericsson P800? Ten years old? I have one of those and it's got a little moisture-sensitive patch inside.

1
0

I'm pretty sure my Nokia 7650 already had something like this.

At least, that's what the people in the phone shop told me. It was a while ago though ...

2
0

Re: I'm pretty sure my Nokia 7650 already had something like this.

One of my former Sony Ericsson handsets (K750) certainly had this "feature". TBH as a non-Apple customer this is great news. The technology doesn't (from personal experience) work properly and the end result is refused warranty support for an invalid reason. So my next handset won't have it. Hurrah for me.

2
0
Silver badge
Devil

Re: I'm pretty sure my Nokia 7650 already had something like this.

The earliest piece of tech I can think of to have it were ancient (pre-electronic days) disposable flash lamps. These had a calibrated quantity of Mg, in a mixture of gas with the electric contact serving just for ignition. The unpleasant thing about the setup was that moisture getting into the lamp gave it the tendency to explode instead of producing a nice well-behaved flash. This is why all of these had some _BOG_ standard coloured silicagel spot. If the spot was white the lamp was safe to use. If it was colored - chuck it away (unless you fancy an explosion).

Any _ANCIENT_ photography book contains reference to said device and it used to be in mass production up to a decade or so after WW2.

So some really old prior art here and plenty of newer one.

6
0
Silver badge
FAIL

Have the patient office been dunked in beer?

This was in my N73.

6
0
JDX
Gold badge

Re: Have the patient office been dunked in beer?

Just because it already exists doesn't mean they won't try to patent it. Also, their implementation of the basic idea might be different enough to Nokia's to make this patentable.

1
7
Silver badge
Pint

Re: Have the patient office been dunked in beer?

That should have been patent office but the typo might be a little more accurate.

4
0
Silver badge
Pint

Re: Have the patient office been dunked in beer?

Their modification of the implementation seems like an obivous anti-tampering mechanism i.e. put in multiple sensors that are hard to reach.

How long before we start hearing stories about how sweat or a mild drizzle sets these off? The iPhone 5 won't be safe come the the Scottish summer.

2
0
Headmaster

Re: Have the patient office been dunked in beer?

The moisture indicator on the N73 was under the battery. In this patent it's inside "a peripheral connector", e.g. the headphone socket:

From claim 1 of the patent: "moisture-indicating detector viewable through the opening in the peripheral connector, wherein the electronic device is operable to communicate with external circuitry through the peripheral connector. "

Don't worry Nokia has a patent on their method as well. Nokia even has patents on towel dispensers: http://www.google.com/patents/US4676559

2
1
Anonymous Coward

Re: Have the patient office been dunked in beer?

What I don't get is how is this an invention?

I've got a device that's damaged by water, and I'd like an easy way to tell...

Maybe I should put some visable water active blobs in it so my first line people can spot it?

Now if apple had made a magical new method of detecting liquid then fine, patent that but something as obvious as having a moisture detector that changes colour when it gets wet is common sense.

It's a bit like the notion of getting the rights to slide to unlock, pretty sure that's been around since before Roman times. I have a door, I want to close it... maybe I'll put two holders here and then slide this piece of wood across to keep it closed...

Do you think if you "invented" the door stop wedge now days you'd be able to patent it?

3
0
Silver badge

Re: Have the patient office been dunked in beer?

@ Metavisor - thank you for reading up on this more than the author of the article. As many have pointed out, there's nothing new about water-sensitive patches etc.

AC>"Now if apple had made a magical new method of detecting liquid then fine, patent that but something as obvious as having a moisture detector that changes colour when it gets wet is common sense."

What Apple have done is patent the sensible step of being able to see said sensor without having to open the device. Seems fairly obvious, but if no one has done it before, then I guess it isn't.

1
4
Anonymous Coward

Re: Have the patient office been dunked in beer?

You'd have to "invent" the "door stop wedge on a mobile device".

Then you could patent it and ban imports on all sorts of Android phones.

2
0

Re: Have the patient office been dunked in beer?

How is one click buy patent worthy? Most software patents (and I'd argue patents in general) are shit.

1
1
Bronze badge

Why don't they make a range of phones that don't die in water instead?

You know they could milk it for all its worth money wise, and people would still buy them.

9
2

This post has been deleted by its author

This post has been deleted by its author

Bronze badge

alt-tab functionality

'for example one which allows you to view multiple application windows in a user interface'

Maemo 5 has it if im interperting this correctly:

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2570/4177970959_ed8a36d40a.jpg

To be fair, its rather usefull, it displays the progression a program is making(for example installing) whilst you happily can do other things.

I installed netdroid 2.3 on my N900 and its one of the things I mis the most, good multi-tasking.

3
0

Re: alt-tab functionality

My Sony Tablet can do this now as well with its Mini-Apps. If you are listening to music and want to adjust the stereo volume, just bring up the mini app for the Remote Control, adjust, hide the app again, all whilst keeping the music player on display. Becuase of stuff like this, and how comfortable it is to hold for extended periods, means my iPad 2 stays in the bag and the Sony is the tablet of choice in our household.

Also means I don;t get to use it that often as 'Er Indoors keeps nicking it to read The Sun, relegating me to the iPad (I'd rather not) or my phone. I suspect we may need another Tablet S.....

On the subject of these "new" patents, seems to me again to be a case of Apple patenting something the rest of the market have been doing for years, and will no doubt try to sue the world + dog over. Sadly Apple wouldn't know innovation if it bit them on the posterior, which doesn't half make me laught when they try and claim the moral high ground.

7
1

Re: alt-tab functionality

Hello fellow Tablet S owner!

Echo your post in its usability, thankfully Mrs doesnt like touchscreens so its all mine & sees more daily use than any device before it.

As for Apple patents... what a cunch of bunts, especially the people that approve them without looking at the world outside their desk.

3
0
Silver badge
Alert

Query: Re: alt-tab functionality

You guys seem to know more about this "application window viewer" issue; my question is: will this be the end of 'live' application and workspace switchers, as for example the ones that compiz provides on Linux?

Or am I barking up the wrong tree?

0
0
jai
Silver badge

poor reporting

I think what Anna failed to make clear is that, even though Apple have been using this for ages (since the very first iPhone i think) the patent office has only now got around to approving their patent application for it.

2
4
WTF?

Re: poor reporting

She also posted this under "Enterprise Security" which is a topic I usually read in depth... not expecting this rubbish.

Can we have a special Anna Leach section please?

5
1

Re: poor reporting

You didn't read the last line?

"The patent 'Water detection arrangement' was filed on 15 January, 2010 and awarded on 3 July, 2012. "

4
1
Anonymous Coward

Re: poor reporting

and read the patent too "This application is a continuation of patent application Ser. No. 11/636,152, filed Dec. 7, 2006, which is hereby incorporated by referenced herein in its entirety."

So it's really from 2006.

1
2

The water exposure test has been around for yonks, hence the popularised "stick a blob of tippex on the end of a biro and cover the thing that's gone red, then pray to god they don't pay much attention when checking it" approach that crops up in various places around the web as a response to "Help I dropped my iPhone down the bog!".

2
0
Anonymous Coward

Unbelievable

How do Apple keep getting granted this crap? This isn't new, it wasn't invented by them but now they can try and stiff everybody with lawsuits. Does a member of the Apple board run the USPTO? Even a brief search would have shown this to be invalid, it's like the patent office don't even bother looking if the application comes from Apple. I'm surprised Apple don't try and file one that just says 'the invention of everything ever even if it isn't invented yet but when it is we retro-actively invented it'

As for 'one which allows you to view multiple application windows in a user interface', could the patent office be any more moronic? This is what happens when you turn the patent office from just being a registry of protected inventions into a business out to make profit. Shut it down now, declare everything void and start again - it's the only way to fix this mess.

7
1
Silver badge

Re: Unbelievable

Easy, the USPO is funded by the patents it files. The more it files, the more money it makes.

It's far more profitable than just taking the money for a patent search and saying "Sorry, already exists" or "Sorry that's obvious". So take the money and grant a full patent. Then let their friend in the legal profession make loads of money arguing over the granted patent a few years down the line.

7
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Unbelievable

They're probably busy working on a unified theory of everything, or something.

0
0

Re: Unbelievable

A simple enough solution, once an award is granted the patent itself is listed on a website where anyone can have a look, if they can see that the patent is invalid due to prior art they can give the details of the prior art, the USPO looks at the details and if they say "oh, right, there is prior art" they revoke the patent.

They could also introduce a rolling fine system (to make lots of money for the government) which is a double of fee which starts at $1, for each patent that gets revoked in this manner the fine doubles, $1, $2, $4, $8, $16 etc. which resets every 5 years back to zero, the low initial entry point wouldn't put off people who have genuine claims to patents putting in an application that is later revoked, big companies that file thousands of patents every year would start to make sure there is no prior art when the fines get out of hand, and it doesn't take long for that to happen....

1 2 4 8 16 32 54 128 256 512 1024 2048 4096 8192 16384 32768 65536 131072. In just 18 patents the fine hits over $100k, 21 patents and it hits $1m, 28 patents and it's over $100m, I think that kind of a fine would make any company double check that their patents were valid before making them (31 patents = $1 billion).

4
1
Go

Erm.. prior art?

The USPTO is already doing that since 2007 under their Peer-to-Patent program:

http://www.peertopatent.org/

It's not available for all categories though. As with granting Patents, changing Patenting procedures takes a long time.

1
0
Joke

Re: Unbelievable

You forgot the "... in a mobile device" bit. That's what makes it an invention.

1
0
Silver badge
Linux

"'one which allows you to view multiple application windows in a user interface" -- What? Like pressing Alt-Tab on most computer systems?

1
0

Page:

This topic is closed for new posts.