Palm Patenting Auto Call Filtering, Folding Phones, Data Signal Display
Patent filings aren't always proof positive of upcoming features. Companies will sometimes file for patents on ideas that may never see the light of day, but are cool enough to warrant protecting (and hoarding, in case of potential thermonuclear patent war with rogue fruit companies). Blog Patentseed has taken note of three of Palm's filings this last week (although the filings themselves are up to five years old).
First - and most likely to appear in webOS smartphones such as the Pre - is application 11/863,174 for "Priority-Based Phone Call Filtering".
From the abstract:
"A mobile phone filters phone calls based on priority. The mobile phone determines a call priority of an incoming phone call based on the caller's telephone number. The mobile phone also determines a threshold priority for the current time period based on a priority schedule. The mobile phone compares the call priority with the threshold priority to determine whether to block the incoming call. If the mobile phone blocks the incoming phone call, it may transmit a message to the caller suggesting a time for the caller to make the phone call again."
In other words: you decide who can call you and when. It's an outstandingly useful feature to have in your phone - as we've previously noted in our review of Call Block for the Treo, it's like having your own personal secretary to screen your calls. Will it make it onto the Pre?
Next, in a filing sure to get PDA tragics all a-flutter, we have 12/266,041: "Compact Palmtop Computer System and Wireless Telephone with Foldable Dual-Sided Display". Abstract:
"The present invention is a compact personal digital assistant (PDA) and cellular telephone with foldable dual-sided display. By utilizing flexible display technology, both a PDA and a cellular telephone are incorporated into one device. In a closed state, in one embodiment, the present invention corresponds to the form used for typical cellular telephone use (e.g., candy bar size). In an open state, in one embodiment, the present invention corresponds to the form used for typical PDA use by providing an enlarged viewing area. The present invention provides the benefit of two distinct devices in one device by allowing for common operations and functionality without compromising the respective form factor of either device."
As Patentseed notes, the parent patent for this concept was filed in 2004. Either Palm have been working on the idea for five years, or flexible display technology hasn't quite gotten to the point where this is feasible. We're betting on the latter - and hoping to God that any actual device that grows out of this concept is a lot more attractive than the filed sketch suggests:
Last and least, we have 11/932,577: "Method and Apparatus to Display Signal Strength". Essentially, the idea is that when you have seperate signals for voice and data, both can be indicated by a single display. Since this was filed in 2007 and what we've seen of the Pre shows it with a standard signal strength meter, we can guess it's not going to rear its head anytime soon.