iOS to Gain ‘Chameleon-Like’ Reactive & Environmentally Aware Features & Screen Savers?

May 12, 2011 - 5 Comments

iPod and iOS with environmentally aware screensaver

An upcoming iteration of iOS may include further abilities to respond and react to environmental stimuli, according to a patent granted to Apple. The patent describes sensors that make a device aware of its speed, direction, temperature, and orientation on Earth, in addition to utilizing a microphone and camera to detect changes in the surrounding environment, and more importantly, adjust items on display based on these factors.

The patent was discovered by PatentlyApple, who describes the feature as “Chameleon-like” and suggests these adjustments could be geared towards fashion, of all things:

Apple’s patent covers systems, methods and computer-readable media for displaying dynamic tags or screen savers that change based on detected characteristics of the user’s environment. In particular, the patent covers dynamic tags that could serve as a fashion accessory by changing based on characteristics of the user’s environment.

PatentlyApple then elaborates on how the camera could detect colors and then adjust items on the screen accordingly:

…the electronic device could dynamically change the appearance of the tag based on the evolution of the sensor outputs. For example, if the electronic device determines from the camera that the color schemes of the user’s room have changed, the displayed tag could adjust to reflect the new detected colors.

The patent goes on to provide a description of the technology in use, describing a raindrops screensaver that adjusts its behavior based on environmental factors. The patent drawings clearly show a device that looks like an iPod nano (on a side note, this indicates that future iPod nanos may include cameras) but PatentlyApple says that other devices are clearly specified (emphasis mine):

It should be noted that while Apple’s patent illustrations are all related to a future version of an iPod nano, the fact is that the patent states that their invention will also apply to the iPhone, iPod Touch (PDA), iPad (tablet) and other devices which includes a laptop, gaming device and even medical equipment.

Can you imagine these kind of reactive features being used in future screen savers, apps, and games across Apple’s entire portable lineup? Some apps already take limited cues from things like the microphone, and many apps use the built-in accelerometers to adjust behavior on screen, but this looks like it has the potential to expand on these reactive concepts dramatically.

PatentlyApple is on a roll today, first finding a patent for futuristic virtual Apple keyboards that puff air to emulate the feel of pressing buttons, and now with this. Pretty impressive stuff, assuming Apple ever implements this technology in upcoming products.

Head on over to PatentlyApple to see more drawings and to read more about this, it’s a good read as always.


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Posted by: William Pearson in iPad, iPhone, Mac, News


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  1. iPhone-addict says:

    Its not very original as it has been used on accessories and clothes at fashion shows and even DARPA had something very similar yet more specific and advanced for camouflage. Im sure they will get a patent but not sure it deserves one due to originally. I think they just want the patent to block other systems from using it.

    I dont see how a screen saver is even relevant on any of its iOS devices when you just shut the screen off to save battery life. Naybe they are gonna change to OLED wich uses less battery or even to color e-ink which uses none to keep a static display. Rummor mill abounds

  2. 911 says:

    I loved the old nanos, the taller ones. Great form factor, can hold a good amount, easy to control. The touch is one thing, but a dedicated mp3 player simply needs physical buttons. This new little square with a touchscreen is a joke. So much more cumbersome for the sake of being differnt and hardly any practical use of the screen. I’m not exactly in the market for one but its disappointing to see the path they’ve taken with the nanos. At least they havent screwed with the Classics.

    • Parakeet says:

      I agree, they turned the nano into a watch and I know runners really like them but that’s a small niche. I think we’ll see changes come September though… more than just a camera is my guess.

  3. Lyndon says:

    truly amazing and generally good stuff. Now about that microphone listening when I don’t want it to listen. I think this one will die given the heightened awareness of privacy

  4. Krecci says:

    Apple is amazing, always pushing the limit. What other company is doing this? Nobody. Apple moves, others follow.

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