9 ‘left field’ patents by Apple, Facebook and Google

Tech firms are always keen to patent new ideas, even if they do not seem to serve any tech-based purpose. Huge companies such as Apple, Facebook and Google did not make their billions by letting business opportunities slide by. Here is a list of nine of the most oblique patents filed by the leading tech companies.

1 – The driverless car (Google)

The days of carefree motoring will soon be over if Google gets its way. Driverless cars are legal in California, Michigan, Florida and Nevada, and other US states are likely to follow suit. So far the only records of driverless cars being involved in accidents are by the fault of other drivers.

2 – The wireless charger (Apple)

While Apple has filed its patent for a wireless charger, the product has yet to be released onto the market. Other companies – including Samsung – have released wireless chargers, but with mixed results.

3 – The data centre layout (Facebook)

In 2014 Facebook actually patented the way in which its data centres are designed. Computer servers typically reach high temperatures which affects performance. Facebook alternates hot aisles and cool aisles to make sure their servers are properly air conditioned.

4 – Location-based reminders (Google)

The pop-up notification kings, Google, patented their location-based reminders as long ago as 2012. You can set reminders by geographical zone, so that the next time you enter a specific zone your mobile phone will remind you of the task you had planned there.

5 – Fingerprint recognition (Apple)

No longer the stuff of sci-fi movies, Apple patented the first reliable fingerprint recognition system in 2015. The application creates a ‘ridge map’ from a user’s finger print, rather than simply using image recognition software.

6 – Wearable trackers (Facebook)

More than a simple tracking device, Facebook’s wearable trackers can detect by motion the activity that the wearer is currently engaged in, such as walking or running. It then uses GPS technology to track and record activity, calculating energy expenditure. It is also intuitive, so it ‘learns’ about the user’s lifestyle.

7 – Hot air balloon (Google)

Google’s ‘Loon’ project aims to provide internet access to remote areas by using high-altitude balloons that will be placed in the stratosphere at altitudes of twenty miles. This patented technology will hopefully create a wireless network with spends close to 3G.

8 – Parking spot locator (Apple)

Apple hopes to stop your search around the car park if you’ve forgotten where you have parked. Their patent concerns technology that recognises when you are on a car journey and when that car journey has ended. It then logs the geographical position of your car so you can find it if you forget where it is.

9 – Card recognition system (Google)

Google has patented a system were you can read in your credit card to pay for goods over the internet by presenting the back of it to an image capture system. The software can read the indented details on front of the card via the back, and the required info on the back itself.

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