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Apple secures patent for NFC alternative technology

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Apple has secured a patent in the US for an alternative technology to Near Field Communications.

The US Patent and Trademark Office yesterday published a series of 32 newly-granted patents secured by Apple.

According to Patently Apple, this includes a system within a portable device that enables it to communicate with another compatible device when in close proximity.

Apple secures patent for NFC alternative technology

© Patently Apple



A similar process is known as Near Field Communications (NFC), and this technology is fitted in many Android and Windows Phone devices, enabling them to share data with other NFC handsets without needing Bluetooth or WiFi.

NFC technology is also used by some smartphones as a way to make wireless payments for goods in shops that have special NFC points.

However, Apple declined to include an NFC chip in its latest iPhone 5, suggesting that the firm is not convinced by the technology.

Apple is known to be experimenting with NFC, but it is also clearly working with an alternate methodology for which the firm has now gained a patent.

As outlined by the patent, the technology works via a compass output in the device that detects when an another handset comes close to using a magnetic field signature.

As the devices get nearer to each other, their respective magnetic characteristics cause a change in the compass output and this indicates that they should be allowed to communicate.

Patently Apple feels that this technology could enable peer-to-peer sharing between Apple devices, similar to the Beam feature in Google Android.

Interestingly, Apple's senior vice president of iOS Scott Forstall and his team has also been awarded a patent for location based services.

It is thought that this system would trigger when the user takes a photo on their device, and involve the software detecting their geographic location and then supplying relevant information based on that.

According to Patently Apple, this could include information "corresponding to one or more relevant businesses in a vicinity of the determined current geographic location".

Apple secures many patents for new technology, and not everything actually materialises in its products. So these new systems may never see the light of day.

> Apple patents fingerprint sensor
> Apple iPad Mini launch event announced for October 23

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