Educational research studies show that 83% of human learning occurs visually, 11% through hearing, and 1.5% through touch. For those of us who feel addicted to our smartphones and other gadgets, perhaps we can justify our obsession by believing that this technology helps us grasp new concepts, forge connections, and learn about the world around us.
Of course, Apple has a mission to keep moving forward (and to give us reasons to buy new gadgets), which means it’s not surprising this innovative company continually files for technological patents. Towards the end of January, Apple was granted 39 different patents. These patents cover the company’s built-in camera facial recognition technology used to unlock devices, their iPad Pro smart keyboard connector, a 3D printing method that would allow products to be colored after printing, their Maps for CarPlay app with turn-by-turn navigation, their iPhone X design, and more.
Apple also filed a patent back in December pertaining to long-range wireless charging that would prioritize a certain order of devices when more than one Apple product has a low battery. A month earlier, Apple filed a patent for a yet-unnamed foldable device that can be “opened and closed by a book” with a flexible display, according to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Whether these latter two patents will be granted is not yet known.
Utility patents protect inventions like these for 20 years (compared to design patent, which is used for creations like unique packaging, which protects for only 14 years) and it’s clear that the company behind our favorite devices stays on top of these protections. Apple filed 2,229 patents last year and is seen as one of the most ingenious companies in the nation.
But despite the fact the company is stepping up its game, it still didn’t cement its place on the list of top 10 companies with the most patents in 2017. They did get close, nabbing the number 11 spot, but they still pale in comparison to other corporations like IBM, Samsung, Intel, and Canon KK. That said, Apple was way ahead of Facebook, Uber, Yahoo, and even Tesla. But that last example reflects Elon Musk’s distaste for the patent system rather than a lack of innovation.
There are a lot of companies hurrying to patent their inventions just so they can have the potential to win a lucrative court case against another organization. But with a company like Apple, you can’t blame them for protecting their products. And if nothing else, applications released by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office can give tech-savvy consumers a taste of what they might soon see on store shelves.