Apple vs Samsung, whenever someone reads the words, the first thing that comes in mind is the epic patent battle that has been continuing since 2012.
Not only the companies have been fighting in market and courtroom but their fans, too, have been on the internet. No-phone-headphone, exploding-phone-meme or this-has-been-in-Android-for-2-years kind of meme are common occurrence.
The two companies have counter-sued each other for more than 50 patents across the globe. They, thus, are not going to stop anytime soon. Further, a settled case on design patent of 2011 has got re-opened recently.
Samsung still owes around US $119 Million to Apple for infringing its Swipe-to-Unlock and 4 other patents. Apple asked for $2 Billion in damages. The case, however, settled around $540 million.
During the last two years, I’ve written a lot on patents of both the companies and also have spotted some strange patterns in patent filing of Samsung. Every now and then, Samsung files a patent on an unlocking method – rather unconventional – for smartphone.
It is quite common seeing a smartphone company filing patent for an unlocking method. Samsung, however, has taken this spree to the next level. It seems as if they want to patent every possible way to unlock a smartphone.
The flagship S8, for example, got launched with an Iris Scanner to unlock. We covered this way back in 2015. After that, more patents on unlocking a smartphone surfaced – cool as well as weird and impractical.
After reading 6th or 7th weird method to unlock a smartphone by Samsung, I said to myself – “Samsung surely have taken Apple’s swipe to unlock lawsuit too serious and now wants to patent every other method possible to unlock a Smartphone.”
And I’m not even exaggerating the impractical part here! Samsung has a patent application filed to unlock a smartphone using a taste simulating stylus. Confused? Here are few of the methods that Samsung is trying to patent from past year:
Unlocking phone using taste sensations:
This is the weirdest and impractical way I’ve ever seen to unlock a device. This is easy to compromise, too and I don’t know why they went ahead with a patent filing.
This patent discloses giving a user sensation of different taste through a stylus. At the right sensation, you click the button to unlock. Read in detail about it here.
I’m not denying the creativity here. It’s totally impractical, however.
Unlocking phone by recognizing handwriting of a user:
Samsung recently filed this patent – we didn’t cover this one. You can access the patent here.
Cool and this makes sense but isn’t Samsung too late to roll such a feature? 5 years ago, well, this could have made sense. Fingerprint and Iris Scanning render this useless. Also, it consumes time.
Unlocking phone using doodling on images
I know what you are thinking. Yup, this unlocking method is quite similar to picture password of Windows 8 and 10. The only difference here is it having additional layers.
We recently covered this method. You can read in detail about it here.
This one is practical as well as cool. You select a right picture among a set and then doodle on it and your device gets unlocked.
To make it more secure, you can increase the complexity by adding a security question. The only drawback is that adding more layers make unlocking process a time consuming task. Do you want to spend 30 sec to unlock your device?
Unlocking phone using heartbeat of a user:
This one is my favorite. This is cool and innovative. How? Well, read on:
This is an easy to implementable method as many of us are already having a smartwatch with heartbeat sensor. Your smartphone will recognize if your smartwatch is wrapped around your wrist or someone else’s. It keeps your smartphone unlocked in the former case.
Do you know why I’ve picked this patent for this list? Because there are quite thin chances of this method getting implemented. The Smartwatch hype is going down and not everyone owns one. Do you have one?
These are only four. If I do a thorough search, I may come up with many. Why Samsung is patenting every possible way to unlock a smartphone?
Let me put forward what I think and I would love to know your view, too, in the comments. Here are my three possible reasons:
- Samsung wants to avert any lawsuits from smartphone vendor as well as trolls.
- As new methods of unlocking smartphones are gaining popularity – Iris, fingerprint, etc., they may want to enforce some to earn patent revenue.
- Samsung wants to troll Apple by patenting every possible way to unlock a smartphone under the Sun……
Do you know that MasterCard is in the same league when it comes to filing less-practical patents. How? Well, they are planning to show ads on your credit card.