Print 18 comment(s) - last by patentman.. on May 8 at 6:17 PM

Eyes-free navigation for those situations where looking at the iPod is too risky

Apple is quite fond of filing for patents, especially those that surround its widely used iPods. But who can blame Apple for doing so? Any creative or unique idea could very well turn out to be a big revenue generator for Apple, considering that iPod and music sales make up a huge portion of Apple's income.

While the new patent doesn't cover a touch-screen iPod video, it does give light into a new navigation system that Apple is working on for future iPods. Because more and more users are using iPods in situations where they are unable to look at the screen, such as while driving, Apple has made it so it is possible to navigate the iPod menu system without taking your eyes off the road. While scrolling through the menus, the iPod will speak back what item is being selected so that users will be able to listen to what's going on.

Apple also recently filed a patent that covers how to navigate a graphical user interface using gestures such as moving your fingers on a touch-screen in specific patterns or didrections. According to Steve Jobs, integration features for Apple's iPods are now being put into over 40% of new cars in the US. Over in Europe, BMW was the first to implement an iPod integration feature into its venerable 3-series, which allowed songs to be displayed on the center console and the audio controls on the steering wheel to control the iPod.

Now that future iPods will be able to speak to their listeners, it may not be too long before their listeners will be able to navigate the iPods by speaking to them.

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128 sampling blues
By Dfere on 5/8/2006 9:53:24 AM , Rating: 2
So what? Now will we get a voice response with the quality of a bad vinyl recording? Or better, a the i-voice(can you just hear the word now?) will sound like a bad drive up hamburger speaker grill...????

Why is a patent needed when they own the firmware? This is just verging on the obsessive......

RE: 128 sampling blues
By Falloutboy on 5/8/2006 10:04:08 AM , Rating: 2
cell phones have a hard time with voice recognition with only a few dozen different phone numbers programed into them. I don't think it would be an easy task for an ipod to do the same but with 1000s of songs

RE: 128 sampling blues
By UNCjigga on 5/8/2006 12:15:08 PM , Rating: 2
Umm, did you read the article? This is NOT voice recognition, this is simply text-to-speech for voice navigation--you still use your hands to control the iPod but you don't have to look at that tiny screen while driving.

And who cares what quality the voice is, as long as it's clear and understandable?

RE: 128 sampling blues
By bldckstark on 5/8/2006 12:30:53 PM , Rating: 2
Ummm... did you read the forum? He simply replied to the person who suggested that the ipod take verbal commands.

RE: 128 sampling blues
By Dfere on 5/8/2006 12:46:29 PM , Rating: 2
Umm.. you are mixing your replies..... My post was about quality- it was a satirical comment about the low quality MP3's Apple is passing off as music.... The next post was about voice recognition.....

BTW let me say this clearly. MP3s are bad for music lovers, even worse now that radio stations in my area are broadcasting bad mp3's converted to analog which get re-coded as digitial by my Sirius/Digitial car stereo. I-tunes doesn't even use a decent sampling rate for the music they SELL.

Thus, my satirical inductive logic is that Apple will continue this trend to our detriment, by somehow decreasing the quality of the audio output so they can save a few cents per player...... (perhaps they will have an 80's roger the robot sounding voice instead of a nice, star trek woman's voice???)

Is that straightforward enough to understand......?(even if you think it is a stoopid sarcastically, at least you get it and can now comment on its attempted merits...)

RE: 128 sampling blues
By JazzCrazed on 5/8/2006 2:26:12 PM , Rating: 2
My personal opinion's that that's largely FUD. There is a relatively small but still strong niche of purists who advocate lossless codecs. Also, I firmly believe that increasing bandwidth and storage capabilities will result in gradual increases in bitrate. At the same time, codecs are always improving in quality (video and audio). So, you have increasing bitrates, and codecs with better compression ratios, all flowing through pipes and drives that are just getting bigger.

But most importantly of all, the average consumer doesn't give a whit about the 128 kbps quality of his/her tunes. An ignorance is bliss situation, perhaps; however, I also argue that the quality of the average consumer's audio equipment isn't sufficient to distinguish between bitrates over 128 kbps. Hell, how many people still use the cruddy headphones that come with their ipods? Or poorly powered stereos? Too many... But whatever, it means they're content with less. Who are we to tell them otherwise?

That said, I'm more of a purist myself, who is still recovering from the debt incurred from recent hifi purchases. So I'm all for e-stores switching over completely to FLAC (heck, if it means itunes no longer doles out DRM-riddled crappy-sounding AAC, then doubly so), but I understand the market isn't pressuring them. Sad thing, I know... As a desktop Linux and FOSS advocate, you get (cynically)used to it.

RE: 128 sampling blues
By patentman on 5/8/2006 6:02:52 PM , Rating: 2
The patent is broader then the firmware of the ipod. Its a method for providing voice feedback from an a file (e.g. a text string) associated with an audio file. By getting this patent, Apple is given the right to exclude others from making, using, selling, offering to sell, importing or exporting the claimed invention for 20 years from the date of filing.

By Carlton Bale on 5/8/2006 9:03:29 AM , Rating: 2
PhatNoise and Rockbox did this a very long time ago; what Apple is doing is nothing new as far as I can tell.

Phatnoise released the PhatBox digital music player several years ago with full talking menu support as well as full voice support for song title / album title / artist name / genre / playlist. The PhatBox is geared specifically to in-car usage:

Rockbox is a third-party firmware for many devices (including the Apple iPod) that has incorporated talking menu support since version 2.3 (released 2004-10-26):

By patentman on 5/8/2006 5:53:57 PM , Rating: 2
Considering the filing date of the apple patent is November 4, 2004, the prior art you are talking about would only be available under 35 U.S.C. 102(a), and that is assuming it was published PRIOR to when apple filed. If it wasn;t published prior, then its ot prior art.

By patentman on 5/8/2006 6:17:21 PM , Rating: 2
Note that photbox etc. cna challenge the valiity of the patent by showing prior conception if necessary, but they will need some pretty strong proof.

not worth it
By Warder45 on 5/8/2006 9:13:24 AM , Rating: 2
Why not just skip this and go and put voice commands in? My cell phone already has a driving mode, have it so you can tell the ipod what song you want and it plays it.

RE: not worth it
By JazzCrazed on 5/8/2006 1:54:19 PM , Rating: 2
This particular article is discussing patents, and, as you yourself point out, voice commands wouldn't be (easily) patentable due to obvious previous art. Of course, the USPTO has undercut my expectations countless times in the past...

Other than that, I would agree that voice commands are a good idea. Hell, they should be on everything. Who's to say ipods won't ever be used by a blind quadriplegic?

RE: not worth it
By patentman on 5/8/2006 6:00:20 PM , Rating: 2
Having worked at the PTo as an Examiner all I can say is that "obviousness" is a relative term. As Examiner's can only base a rejection under 35 U.S.C. 103(a) on prior art (prior art meaning documents published before the filing date of the application at issue, or, if the prior art doc is a U.S. patent, patent application, or a PCT publication designating the U.S. and filed in English, filed before the filing date of the U.S. Application) it can be more difficult to make an argument of obviousness then you might think. Its not whether someone five year later would have thought it was obvious to do (like most people seem to think is the case), its whether one of ordinary skill in the art, at the time the invention was made and looking at the available prior art, would have found it obvious to do what the applicant is claiming.

If you want to blame someone, don't blame the PTO. blame congress for passing incredibly vague patent laws and the federal circuit court of appeals for screwing up the interpretation of thos laws. The only things the PTO promulgates itself are in the manual of patent examination procedure and in 37 C.F.R., and these are only agency policies and procedures. The substantive law etc. is all congress and the Federal Circuit for the most part.

Just my 2c.

ghetto-blasted voice recognition...
By Scabies on 5/8/2006 4:27:02 PM , Rating: 2
Ha, I could see it now. Some moron pulls up to a red light, sees he stops next to what he thinks is a hot chick, flips through his music collection for something to impress her, and has his entire collection of nsync and spice girls read out loud over his next-to-blown wal mart speakers.

Other than that, a patent on text recognition? I had that on my Tandy 1000 back before I knew what an IC was. Does the innovation lie within the firmware being able to look at the ID3 tags and read out song titles? Wow, I want that so bad I might go buy a 'Nano and an M3.

By patentman on 5/8/2006 6:06:32 PM , Rating: 2
Its not a patent on text recognition! If you read the claims you'll realize that its actually rather specific.

Darwin Award!
By DeathByDuke on 5/8/2006 3:36:15 PM , Rating: 1
Give those guys a darwin award.

The first iPod to advertise its presence to waiting muggers!

The first iPods to make people sound like nutters.

The first iPods to cause car crashes as people use them while driving. While trying to use their mobile phone too. Yay!

RE: Darwin Award!
By patentman on 5/8/2006 6:05:13 PM , Rating: 2
The first ipod to be navigable by the visually impaired.... OMG THATS SO LAUGHABLE.... oh wait, no its not.

By gmyx on 5/8/2006 7:46:20 AM , Rating: 1
Great, finaly an MP3 player for the blind... they must of had the NFB on them.

"This week I got an iPhone. This weekend I got four chargers so I can keep it charged everywhere I go and a land line so I can actually make phone calls." -- Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg
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