Qualcomm Patents: Diverse Computer, Mobile Device Innovation

Qualcomm Incorporated, headquartered in San Diego, CA, is a global leader in the design and manufacture of wireless telecommunications products, like cell phone semiconductors and tracking devices. Recently, Qualcomm has broadened its product and service base in wireless Internet networking and application programming. The company’s commitment to research and development make Qualcomm a visible presence at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office each week.

Today, we’ll take a close look at some of the more intriguing, recent Qualcomm patent applications recently published by the USPTO, many of which show the technology developer focusing on improving mobile network connections. Patent applications released within the last month describe systems of improving mobile device Internet connectivity to peripheral devices, like printers, or while indoors for pedestrian traffic analysis. More efficient means of social network messaging is the subject of another application. A fourth application included here is filed to protect a gesture-based system of interacting with computer projectors.

One patent received recently by Qualcomm, and covered below, protects a system of geographically locating computers and other devices connected to the Internet through an IP address, which doesn’t typically contain any geographical data.

Complete file histories courtesy of The Patent Box.


Mobile Device Peripheral Device Location and Connection

U.S. Patent Application No. 20130091309 — Click to see Complete File History

Mobile devices are extremely useful and offer their owners plenty of computer functionality, including the ability to send e-mails or interact with online accounts through apps. However, there are tasks that a mobile device cannot perform without peripheral equipment. For instance, a device can’t print an image or document being viewed on a device without a printer connection. Connecting these two devices is difficult when the mobile device is connected to a cell phone network while the peripheral device is connected to a local access network.

Qualcomm’s patent application describes a method of connecting the mobile device to peripheral devices utilizing location information for both pieces of equipment. The location of the mobile device is determined and uploaded to a computer program that processes that information and finds local wireless networks in that location. The program identifies peripheral equipment on that wireless network, allowing the mobile device to connect directly.

Claim 1 of this patent application seeks to protect:

“A method of identifying peripheral devices to a mobile device, the method comprising: determining mobile device location information; receiving peripheral device location information and peripheral device capabilities information; comparing the peripheral device capabilities information to desired capabilities; comparing the peripheral device location information to the mobile device location information; determining when the peripheral device location is desired; and selecting at least one peripheral device.”


Vision-Based Interactive Projection System
U.S. Patent Application No. 20130088461 — Click to see Complete File History

Computers are often used to create digital presentations for conferences, trade shows or other functions. Projector equipment enables presentations to be displayed on a screen or wall so that a large group of people can read the information clearly. Usually, presenters manage the presentation with an external device or through the computer, but either can prove difficult to use and often distract the presenter during the event.

The system of vision-based interaction between a user and a projector laid out in this patent application seeks to remove all remote devices from the equation and letting the user interact with the computer through gestures. An image of the presenter is captured and analyzed to determine the presenter’s proximity to the display screen. The analysis is helped by a lighting arrangement meant to illuminate the screen so that a darker region on the screen indicates the presence of the presenter in front of the display.

As Claim 1 explains, Qualcomm is seeking legal protections for:

“A method comprising: projecting a display onto a surface; illuminating a region near the surface; capturing an image of the surface during the illumination; analyzing a variation of intensities across pixels in at least a portion of the image; determining a polarity associated with the portion of the image; and determining whether an object is touching the surface based at least partly on the analysis of the variation and on the determined polarity.”


Image and Video Based Pedestrian Traffic Estimation
U.S. Patent Application No. 20130101159 — Click to see Complete File History

Determining the location of a mobile device is very easy when the device is outdoors and unencumbered by signal interference. However, when that device moves indoors, physical walls and invisible wireless networks can create disruptions in the device’s signal. Maintaining this connection would aid the use of a number of software applications, like pedestrian traffic routing or walking distance to a destination.

This particular patent application describes a video recording apparatus connected to software that would analyze the number of people appearing in an indoor space, as well as their traffic patterns. The system would also have the means of predicting future pedestrian traffic. Information derived about pedestrian traffic patterns would be delivered through an indoor wireless network to mobile devices for trip routing or other applications.

Claim 1 of this patent application describes Qualcomm’s intent to protect:

“A method for determining pedestrian traffic, the method comprising: detecting persons from a video input; determining pedestrian traffic at a location from the detected persons; tracking pedestrian traffic at the location over time; and predicting pedestrian traffic at the location at a future time, based at least in part on the tracked pedestrian traffic.” 


System and Apparatus for Power Efficient Delivery of Social Network Updates to a Receiver Device in a Broadcast Network
U.S. Patent Application No. 20130097236 — Click to see Complete File History

Social media networks help individual users connect with others to talk about all manner of real life events or issues. One way users communicate with others through these networks involves posting status updates or messages, such as through Twitter or Facebook. However, some users have so many followers that when they post a status update, downloading that update to followers uses a heavy amount of network resources. System resources can also be drained by multiple postings about a signle event. For example, this application cites Twitter server crashes on June 25, 2009, the day Michael Jackson died. On that day, Twitter users posted about Michael Jackson at the rate of 100,000 tweets per hour.

The new system developed by Qualcomm, and described in this patent application, hopes to ease the strain on social media servers by creating a broadcast stream of high profile posts that is delivered directly to mobile devices. In this way, the data is transmitted over a cellular network, allowing the social media server to divert more of its resources to transmitting status updates to non-mobile users.

Claim 1 of the Qualcomm application describes:

“A method for delivering social network updates to a plurality of receiver devices, comprising: identifying highly popular entities among one or more social networks; obtaining from the one or more social network updates from the identified highly popular entities; and transmitting the obtained social network updates from the identified highly popular entities via one of a broadcast and a multicast network.”


Geo-Locating End-User Devices on a Communication Network
U.S. Patent No. 8428098 — Click to see Complete File History

The use of IP networks for Internet connections enables a number of digital forms of communication, including voice-over-IP (VOIP) services. VOIP applications, such as Skype, allow voice communications across a broadband connection, letting a computer user speak to a remote party through an Internet connection. Unfortunately, IP networks are geographically transparent, making it difficult to trace the location of calls in case of an emergency.

The USPTO recently awarded Qualcomm Incorporated the right to protect a system of locating users using VOIP services through an Internet connection. This system uses a route tracing utility to trace a call made through an IP network. The utility pings the IP address and logs the pingback time recorded between each hop, or portion of a network between end user and Internet source. This information is analyzed by a geo-locating device within the system to determine the end user’s location.

As Claim 1 states, Qualcomm has won the right to protect:

“A method for determining the geographical location of a user device coupled to a communication network, comprising: obtaining a network path to the user device; obtaining a first last hop network device in the network path to the user device; obtaining a first geographical location of the first last hop network device; obtaining a plurality of pairs of ping times to the user device and corresponding ping times to the first last hop network device; obtaining a smallest time difference among the plurality of pairs of ping times to the user device and corresponding ping times to the first last hop network device; determining a distance for a last leg path between the first last hop network device and the user device using, at least in part, the smallest time difference obtained; and determining a first user device geographical location for the user device based on the geographical location of the first last hop network device and the last leg path distance.”


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