Broadcom: A Fabless Manufacturer Focused on Innovation

Headquartered in Irvine, CA, the Broadcom Corporation is a very successful company in the field of semiconductor and electronic development. As a fabless manufacturer, Broadcom focuses on researching new technologies for which the manufacturing is outsourced. In early May, this company increased its market capitalization ranking among all S&P 500 companies to 264th overall, taking over the spot held by Harley-Davidson. Although Broadcom’s mobile and wireless sector has been losing profits recently, its infrastructure and networking and its broadband sectors have brought increasing revenues in the past few years. Wireless internet technologies, as well as various semiconductor products for the growing Internet of Things, are currently being developed by the corporation.

Those who routinely read this feature know that we focus heavily on semiconductor developers in IPWatchdog’s Companies We Follow series, and that makes Broadcom an organization that truly piques our interest. For the first time, we’re profiling the recent patent applications and issued patents assigned to this company and published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Our recent search of this corporation’s innovations showed us a diverse field of novel technologies for many computing environments.

Today’s featured patent application involves an invention that seeks to provide energy resources more efficiently within an automotive computing environment. This system is able to monitor various pieces of data to inform system decisions on whether on-board entertainment, safety or navigational systems should be operated in a low-power state. Another patent we discuss features similar methods of determining whether a device should stop running certain applications. We also describe a couple of multimedia innovations, including one invention designed to reduce echo problems in audio systems.

Digital security is a major focus among technology developers, and our coverage of Broadcom’s recently issued patents features a trio of systems in this field, including methods of securing the authorization to access multimedia access based on GPS information. We also found a couple of additional patents protecting inventions related to multimedia systems, including systems for listening to audio clandestinely in public environments as well as methods for reducing blurring or other rendering problems in three-dimensional video.



Intelligent Power and Control Policy for Automotive Applications
U.S. Patent Application No. 20140121898

Automobiles have gone from a simple form of transportation to become a highly computerized environment. Through monitor displays, users can interact with a variety of services, including different radio formats, media, navigational tools and more. These services must communicate with Internet servers and data systems to process commands and retrieve display content, requiring a source of energy to power these systems.

Technology systems found in automobiles are often designed so that low-power states can be implemented during operation. A low-power state allows the car or truck to conserve energy when these services aren’t required by drivers or passengers. For example, if driving on an isolated highway, some auto technologies will stop monitoring traffic data typically used for routing. However, these systems still have a difficult time of determining when to enter a low-power state, or the proper time to return to normal power.

Broadcom filed this patent application with the USPTO in November 2012 to protect a new method of controlling a device coupled to an automotive area network (AAN). The application, however, claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 61/719,581, which was filed less than two weeks earlier on October 29, 2012. The system specifically described in this application can also be used in a variety of vehicle environments, including buses, airplanes or boats. This device is capable of sending control messages to various on-board technological systems in response to various collected pieces of data.

This system relies on the use of sensors for monitoring vehicle acceleration, temperature, time of day, anticipated arrival time and other pieces of information. This data informs the AAN control device to adjust the power state of any automobile subsystems, including safety systems, entertainment systems or navigation systems. Car owners can set up profiles that focus power on various systems; for instance, a parent who drives many children can set up an “entertainment centric” profile to ensure that enough power is reserved for entertainment systems installed in a car.

As Claim 1 states, Broadcom is petitioning the USPTO for the right to protect:

“A method for use in a device communicatively coupled to an automotive area network (AAN) associated with a vehicle, the method comprising: obtaining, by a processor, input from the vehicle, the input indicating a current operating environment of the vehicle; obtaining, by the processor, a control policy indicating a balance between power usage of the device and a performance level of the device for at least the current operating environment; controlling, by the processor, a power state of at least a physical layer (PHY) portion of a communications interface of the device based on the input from the vehicle and the control policy; and dynamically rebalancing the power usage and performance level of the device over time to account for changes in the operating environment of the vehicle.”


Other Patent Applications

From U.S. Patent Application No. 20140112644, entitled “Collection and Concurrent Integration of Supplemental Information Related to Currently Playing Media.”

A wide array of intriguing computer technologies are at the core of an assortment of Broadcom patent applications which we took a close look at today. American consumers may benefit from many of these inventions in media systems and electronic devices during the coming years. Systems for aiding audio systems owners in setting up their speakers properly are described in U.S. Patent Application No. 20140119552, which is titled Loudspeaker Localization With a Microphone Array. This would protect a system that prevents audio quality degradation because of poorly placed loudspeakers through the use of a microphone array. This microphone array helps the system apply cancellation filters to remove echoes or other audio effects impacting playback. Methods for collecting and displaying information related to media content being played are discussed in U.S. Patent Application No. 20140112644, entitled Collection and Concurrent Integration of Supplemental Information Related to Currently Playing Media. This supplemental information, collected through the use of meta data, can be displayed through various media systems, including televisions, computers and electronic devices.

Electronic devices are the focus of another pair of patent applications which caught our eyes during our look at Broadcom’s recently developed technologies. U.S. Patent Application No. 20140105111, filed under the title Over the Air Programming Via a Broadband Access Gateway, would protect better methods of provisioning electronic devices with software and firmware upgrades. The over-the-air programming method is designed to overcome shortcomings associated with communicating with device networks while inside of a building, which signals cannot easily permeate. U.S. Patent Application No. 20140091755, titled Wireless Power Transfer Adaptation Triggers, describes a device for creating a wireless environment of power transfer for devices that includes an event detection module. The event detection module can analyze data, such as the presence of a human user or the time of day, to affect the mode of operation or turn off applications and communication features.



Issued Patents of Note (Images: GPS information.png; noise reduction.png)

During 2013, the Broadcom Corporation was issued a total of 1,083 patent grants by the USPTO, placing it 11th among all American companies in terms of intellectual property holdings for that year. As a fabless semiconductor manufacturer, Broadcom is able to outsource the actual fabrication of their semiconductor products, allowing them to focus on developing end user products and services. Recently issued patents assigned to this company protect many interesting applications of electronics for various wireless and broadband communication solutions.

We selected a trio of patents related to the security of digital content accessible by computer devices to share with our readers in today’s column. Improved methods of protecting personal data stored on devices from hackers are protected by U.S. Patent No. 8719569, issued under the title User Authentication System. This system involves the use of cryptographic keys meant to prevent unauthorized access of computing devices across a wireless network. Digital rights management methods within a virtual local area network (VLAN) are protected by U.S. Patent No. 8707456, entitled Method and System for Integrating Remote Devices Into a Domestic VLAN. This system provides more effective methods for authorizing devices to interact with digital services available in a VLAN. Broadcom has also protected a system for protecting multimedia content through location data with U.S. Patent No. 8705791, titled Method and System for Utilizing GPS Information to Secure Digital Media. The system uses a watermark embedding process based on the location of a device to secure multimedia content.

From U.S. Patent No. 8705791, titled “Method and System for Utilizing GPS Information to Secure Digital Media.”

Broadcom’s focus on developing better systems for the user experience of multimedia content is evidenced in a couple of patents that will finish up our coverage today. Enhancing the user control of audio systems to improve the quality of what a listener hears is the aim of the technology protected by U.S. Patent No. 8717149, which is titled Remote-Control Device with Directional Audio System. The directional audio system in this invention would allow a user to listen to audio transmitted to a remote device, which plays the sound so that others within the device user’s vicinity wouldn’t be able to hear it. We wrap up our look at Broadcom’s intellectual property holdings with a look at U.S. Patent No. 8704932, entitled Method and System for Noise Reduction for 3D Video Content. The “noise” in this system refers to incorrectly displayed pixels which cause three-dimensional video content to be rendered poorly. This 3D video processing system is able to determine any pixels which are redundant or displaced and compensating for any blurring or other image degradation.


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Join the Discussion

2 comments so far.

  • [Avatar for Anon]
    May 16, 2014 12:04 pm


    Oh the bitter (after)taste of the drink being passed around and labeled “Troll”….

    (I am reminded of images of the Kool-Aid pitcher breaking through a wall and the “Ohhh-Yeah!” voice-over….)

    See at 2:20

  • [Avatar for American Cowboy]
    American Cowboy
    May 16, 2014 09:30 am

    Yeah, but they are a troll. Yuck.