As reported by PatentlyApple, the USPTO today published a number of patents (18 in total), relating to the inclusion of RFID chips in Apple’s iOS devices. In the series of patents published we discover that Apple has won the rights to key implementation methods regarding this emerging technology.
The granted patent entitled “Touch Display RFID Tag Reader” describes a display which could, in theory, double as an RFID tag reader.
According to Apple’s patent, RFID technology is becoming more and more prevalent in today’s society. The technology could be advantageous because small, minimally invasive, unpowered remote units such as “RFID tags” could be unobtrusively placed in many items to identify them and provide information. Because these RFID tags operate without batteries or physical connections to other circuits, little or no maintenance is necessary. However, the base stations (BSs) or “RFID readers” needed to communicate with the RFID tags do require power and a larger “footprint,” and are thus more difficult to integrate into various items.
Apple’s patent and solution to the noted problem relates to the efficient incorporation of RFID circuitry, either reader or remote unit circuitry or both, and in particular the RFID antenna, within touch sensor panel circuitry. In particular, the RFID antenna could be placed in the touch sensor panel, such that the touch sensor panel could now additionally function as an RFID transponder. In this manner, no separate space-consuming RFID antenna is necessary.
The news follows a number of reports, including one by The New York Times, which all claim that Apple may possibly be looking into the inclusion of NFC (Near Field Communication) technology in a future iteration of its iPhone or iPad.[via PatentlyApple]