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Bezos Patenting 'Dumb' Tablets, Glasses, Windshields 87

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the insert-x-terminal-joke-here dept.
theodp writes "GeekWire reports on Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' pending patent on remote displays that communicate with base stations and operate on wireless power. Reducing devices to mere screens with minimal storage that receive pre-rendered content (e.g., bitmap images), the patent application explains, eliminates the need for bulky batteries or processors, and employing techniques like electromagnetic or electrostatic induction allows one to cut the cord completely. Such remote displays, Amazon suggests, could find a home on college campuses (tablets), in your car (windshield displays or DVD players), and even on your face (eyeglasses)." There's already a (not wirelessly powered) device similar to the one described in the patent.
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Bezos Patenting 'Dumb' Tablets, Glasses, Windshields

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 26, 2013 @08:07AM (#43279789)

    $SUBJECT says it all.

    I'm thoroughly impressed.

    • by Joce640k (829181) on Tuesday March 26, 2013 @08:12AM (#43279811) Homepage

      Hey, it's more innovative than "1-click"...at least we're heading in the right direction!

      • It's about innovative as this [wikipedia.org], which has been around since the 60s in one form or another.

        • Neither the X station nor the dumb terminal "receive pre-rendered content".

          The iWatch, however.... to me this looks like a pre-emptive strike against Apple.

          • by Mkx (614118) on Tuesday March 26, 2013 @08:31AM (#43279897)

            Neither the X station nor the dumb terminal "receive pre-rendered content".

            You're not entirely right. They both receive partly pre-rendered content. Dumb terminals receive data about which character they need to display at certain (relative) screen location, however the shape of characters is done by terminals. X terminals receive parts of display content pre-rendered as bitmaps, they don't invent any of contents. Indeed they don't receive exact display contents in full and every time (eg. acording to refresh rate), they need to re-assemble full display content from incremental updates received from the mainframe/X client ...

          • by Anonymous Coward

            So it's more like a TV set or a VGA display?

            About time someone patented that. I mean: so much intellectual property going to waste. What a pity!

          • Even if terminals don't, monitors do(and, while it may have shown up earlier in specific proprietary or embedded systems, Embedded DisplayPort 1.3 even includes "Panel Self Refresh", a power-saving feature where the LCD panel itself has enough memory to store a single frame, to avoid the GPU having to keep the link active just to keep displaying a static image).

            The developers of RFB(best known now as the basis of VNC) might also have a thing or two to say about the originality of a dumb client device that r

          • I was thinking more like this: http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/um/people/bibuxton/buxtoncollection/detail.aspx?id=178 [microsoft.com]

            "Rather than a free-standing slate/tablet computer, the Zenith CruisePAD was a remote terminal to one's PC. It was designed to allow the user to interact with that PC's applications from a distance over a wireless network. What made it interesting to me was that it let one do so directly on the CruisePAD's screen, using either a stylus or finger."

      • Wireless power, Check - Solar, Web, Check, Prior art..

        http://www.alibaba.com/product-gs/627880918/VMS_Australian_standard_highway_running_direction.html [alibaba.com]

        1. Function and Technology Character

        (1) Multiplied file formats, such as AVI, MOV, MPG, DAT, VOB are comprehensive, and also we have three display mode as VGA+VIDE and VGA. There are also interfaces for Sound signal and video signal, including CVBS, S-Video, VGA, DVI, HDMI.
        (2) 8 bits controller: 4096 grade grey control system and the color

    • by Nyder (754090)

      $SUBJECT says it all.

      I'm thoroughly impressed.

      It's different because it says "wireless"

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 26, 2013 @08:07AM (#43279793)

    Even though he's a CEO, working 24/7 on that job, he still has time to invent all these things and patent them?

    Incredible!

  • by meerling (1487879) on Tuesday March 26, 2013 @08:11AM (#43279809)
    Hmm... Like the Wii U tablet?
    I'm not impressed, I sure hope the patent people don't fall for this one.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    This is Bezo's second patent application this month. [slashdot.org].

    Maybe he got a hold of this book [amazon.com]?

  • Impressive... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday March 26, 2013 @08:22AM (#43279851) Journal

    Don't we call a 'dumb tablet' a "monitor"? Y'know, those crazy devices that have(ever since the earliest digital displays, even if you don't want to count the analog ones), explicitly depended on a more capable device to directly fill a tiny amount of storage(corresponding to one frame worth, sometimes less if there is a clever timing sync involved) with the necessary data?

    Christ, Bezos, just swapping a wire for a wireless link doesn't make it novel...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gsgriffin (1195771)
      read more carefully...powered wirelessly. This means that a hunk of plastic with no power can display an image delivered and powered by something else. I want one!!!! Sounds very different amazing...if it can be done
      • That might make it a better product; but not a better patent.

        • I don't care about the quality or legitimacy of the patent (which is only applied for, not granted), the point is that many people are posting how this is just like their tethered display or tablet (which I do too), but that is NOT what the patent is for. The primary patent is for a display device that is BOTH powered wirelessly and receives/displays an image with no battery or power cord. That is wickedly cool....if it exists.
          • The thing is that while wireless power is cool, it has been around for decades. People have been waiting to use wireless power for many things, the reason why they haven't has been due to efficiency. Recently things have been improving in this area (eg witricity), and so start making inventions described in this patent practical. Any invention behind this patent is purely down to the researchers working on the wireless power, low power electronics and screen tech. If anything this is going to slow developme
      • Like wise dude, read more carefully. These are not just hunks of plastic - they DO have a battery - just not a bulky one (as power requirements have been reduced). They will also have capacitive screens and likely a speaker. They will charge off a base station that does not require it to be plugged in. I understand that this same base station is where the processing will be.
        • Micro-batteries (used to just allow for continuous flow when there is a brief interruption of wireless power) is nothing like the tablets or monitors people are using. My whole point is to everyone saying that this is nothing new and already used by everyone every day (many posting how they already have this on their desk...BS).

          Whether they have capacitors or micro-batteries is nothing like the big batteries in tablets today. This is new. So new that it probably doesn't really exist. I was commenting
          • ok, i simply did not believe the article was about wireless power. if that were the case, i would not be expecting that kind of announcement to come bundled in a new product article. It belongs in a science publication. as you said, it probably doesnt exist. I dont believe it exists either.

            of course we do know about wireless power via solar panels, but this is something of a different order.
    • by gmuslera (3436)
      Well, if you call monitor something wireless, that is not rectangular and dedicated but fitting in existing surfaces, that gathers information (not just touchscreen, maybe other kind of sensors too), and probably should have some level of transparency, then yes. But probably will get a new shiny name like happened with smartphone or ultrabook.
  • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot AT hackish DOT org> on Tuesday March 26, 2013 @08:23AM (#43279857)

    It's more common at large tech companies to claim that one of your engineers invented something after careful study in the lab etc etc. Then you have them file a patent, but with assignment to the company. You don't typically put the CEO's name on the patent, because it's not so plausible that random things the CEO sketches out are properly patentable inventions that have had real technical work go into them.

    • It's more common at large tech companies to claim that one of your engineers invented something after careful study in the lab etc etc. Then you have them file a patent, but with assignment to the company. You don't typically put the CEO's name on the patent, because it's not so plausible that random things the CEO sketches out are properly patentable inventions that have had real technical work go into them.

      That's not necessarily true, as it depends on what's in the claims. The inventor is the one (or ones) who fully conceived of the invention as recited in the claims. The engineer may reduce the invention to practice and figure out the technical details, but unless they've specifically contributed to a claimed idea, then they're not an inventor on that patent.

      So, for example, Steve Jobs can come up with the idea for the design of the iPad and then hand it off to an engineer to figure out how to make all of t

      • by Trepidity (597)

        Good point on Jobs; he is indeed on a number of patents. I guess I was thinking more along the lines of places like IBM or Intel, where it's quite rare for anyone from management (certainly not the CEO) to have their name on a patent. Instead patents tend to be filed by the technical staff.

  • Well, for the moment, I'm still using AWS EC2, but I've started buying books [and everything else] from other suppliers, because of this. A real shame, I feel that Amazon is a genuine success rather than dotcom froth, but big things seem to become evil by some hidden law of scale.
  • by mwvdlee (775178) on Tuesday March 26, 2013 @08:46AM (#43279977) Homepage

    I've been using an old, broken (touchscreen no longer working) no-name brand 7" Android tablet as a third screen for months now. It displays the Chrome developer console window.

    I'm using RedFly, but there are atleast 3 similar apps for Android and 2 for iOS devices and this kind of functionality has been around for much longer than I've been using it.

    How come Amazon keeps getting away with getting patents on completely obvious and common technology?

    • by MrMickS (568778)

      I've been using an old, broken (touchscreen no longer working) no-name brand 7" Android tablet as a third screen for months now. It displays the Chrome developer console window.

      I'm using RedFly, but there are atleast 3 similar apps for Android and 2 for iOS devices and this kind of functionality has been around for much longer than I've been using it.

      How come Amazon keeps getting away with getting patents on completely obvious and common technology?

      If you're using an app on a, more capable, tablet then you aren't doing what this patent describes. You paid full price for the tablet, with the touchscreen, and battery, and decent processor etc. This is for a much lower cost device that won't be able to do anything but act as a display.

      • by gstoddart (321705)

        If you're using an app on a, more capable, tablet then you aren't doing what this patent describes. You paid full price for the tablet, with the touchscreen, and battery, and decent processor etc. This is for a much lower cost device that won't be able to do anything but act as a display.

        Since when is cost a factor in the validity of a patent? Does it do the same tasks?

        We've had dumb-terminals for decades, so nothing at all new on that front.

        To me, moving from wired networking to wireless networking is pre

        • Since when is cost a factor in the validity of a patent? Does it do the same tasks?

          If you come up with a way of doing something, e.g. extracting a metal from ore, that costs 1/10 of what any other known method costs, you can certainly get a patent on that.

          Of course, this doesn't appear to apply to the patent discussed in this article, but as a general principle, doing something more cheaply can be patentable.

          • by gstoddart (321705)

            Of course, this doesn't appear to apply to the patent discussed in this article, but as a general principle, doing something more cheaply can be patentable.

            Sure, and I don't disagree with that as long as you're actually coming up with something new and not just combining technology in ways that have already been done.

            If I take a device, and that device has notionally input, display, networking, and power systems ... if someone invents a better version of any of those systems, and you replace an older techno

            • You're correct, a combination of known technologies that results in what one would expect from the combination is generally supposed to be considered obvious. It will be interesting to see what happens with this application.
    • read more carefully...powered wirelessly. I bet you display has a cord plugged into the wall. If you've got a piece of plastic that is displaying a wireless image and has no batteries and no cord plugged into it, I want to see it!! This is amazingly cool, if it is possible.
  • Remarkable inspiration. Such originality! I'm glad we have a patent system to protect such ingenuity.
  • So we've moved from repatenting everything and adding "on a computer" to "on a mobile device" and now to "wirelessly powered."

  • Claim 9 is pretty representative, and recites:

    9. A remote display system, comprising:
    a first primary station including a data transmitting element operable to wirelessly transmit data and a power transmitting element operable to wirelessly transmit power;
    a second primary station including a data transmitting element operable to wirelessly transmit data and a power transmitting element operable to wirelessly transmit power; and
    a portable display including a power receiving element and a data receiving element;
    wherein the portable display is operable to wirelessly receive the power from the power transmitting element of the first primary station in response to a detection that the portable display is within power transmitting range of the first primary station; and
    wherein the portable display is operable to wirelessly receive the power from the power transmitting element of the second primary station in response to a detection that the portable display is within power transmitting range of the second primary station.

    Not that these claims are patentable as is, but it seems to be more about smooth handoff between the first base station and second base station.

    There's also a second invention mentioned in the application that's only slightly related (which is not unusual, it'll probably be in a divisional application sometime). It relates to automatic cable tensioning:

    For example, when a user holding a portable display connected to a primary station pulls the portable display away from the primary station, the tension sensor 1004 in the cable management system 1002 detects an increased tension on the transmission cable. When the tension level exceeds an upper threshold tension level, the cable management system 1002 activates the cable release 1008 to allow an additional amount of transmission cable 908 to extend out of the primary station 912 until at least the tension level in the cable drops below the high threshold tension level. By activating the cable release 1008, the portable display does not tug on the transmission cable and possibly disconnect the transmission cable from the portable display.

    • I'm not ranting at you. I'm ranting about the patent.

      Not that these claims are patentable as is, but it seems to be more about smooth handoff between the first base station and second base station.

      That's the irritating thing about these patents. It doesn't actually cover how to do the smooth handoff (a difficult problem with many extant solution), it just says "it happens by magic and I invented it".

      Also, wouldn't the VNC or X11 or RDP or a whole variety of other protocols running over 802.11 in infrastruct

      • I'm not ranting at you. I'm ranting about the patent.

        Not that these claims are patentable as is, but it seems to be more about smooth handoff between the first base station and second base station.

        That's the irritating thing about these patents. It doesn't actually cover how to do the smooth handoff (a difficult problem with many extant solution), it just says "it happens by magic and I invented it".

        And? It's just a patent application and Bezos is entitled to write whatever he wants in it. But, if any other piece of prior art does something remotely similar (and I'm sure we can find something), then he'll have to amend his claims to claim a specific way of doing it... and if all his specification says is "it happens by magic," then he won't be able to make that amendment.

        In other words, save the rant until we see something get issued. In the meantime, send in some prior art. You've got six months [patentlyo.com].

        Also, wouldn't the VNC or X11 or RDP or a whole variety of other protocols running over 802.11 in infrastructure mode, or GSM/3G/whatever cell data cover the whole part of wireless remote image display with smooth handoff?

        The

        • It's just a patent application and Bezos is entitled to write whatever he wants in it.

          And these things have the irritating habit of getting awarded. I've done a couple of desconstructions of some awarded patents published to slashdot. Chock full of prior art and a staggering lack of innovation.

          and if all his specification says is "it happens by magic,"

          It does. Well, it just says it happens without specifying how. May as well be magic.

          In other words, save the rant until we see something get issued.

          I've do

          • In other words, much of the patent (ignoring the wireless power bit) is covered very well by existing software and hardware stacks. It's not even an innovative use of either.

            Certainly seems that way... But, otoh, that implies that you could strike all of the data transmission bits from the claims, have a claim that's just about wireless power transmission and handoffs, and you may be patentable. And if so, then adding the data stuff back in doesn't take away from patentability. A Delorean with a Mr. Fusion and time travel capability is still novel and nonobvious, even if a Delorean itself is well known.

            • A Delorean with a Mr. Fusion and time travel capability is still novel and nonobvious, even if a Delorean itself is well known.

              Haha, well kinda.

              The time travel device runs off electrivity, so one would expect that switching round electricity sources would always fall into the realm of obvious (well, excluding a lightning strike perhaps).

              The electricity sources may be patentable, but the act of using source A to power device B would seem that is should never be patentable. Of course, that's not true because

  • by Rambo Tribble (1273454) on Tuesday March 26, 2013 @09:34AM (#43280313)
    ... the patent office folks remember that bit about "obvious".
  • by PortHaven (242123) on Tuesday March 26, 2013 @11:14AM (#43281121) Homepage

    The Wireless Mainframe Terminal...

    WOOT!!!!

  • by kheldan (1460303) on Tuesday March 26, 2013 @01:21PM (#43282691) Journal
    Aren't we really just talking about a portable WiDi display that also happens to support an input device of some sort? How is this innovative or original?
  • Except for the discussion of power it sounds like what I first read about VNC http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtual_Network_Computing [wikipedia.org] The description I read described using it for things like telephone displays etc.

  • Seems many technologies already do this like VNC.. services like onlive does streaming video as well.

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