Thursday, October 2, 2014

3D Bioprinting , An On-demand Printing Of Natural Skin And Organs


3D bioprinting is the process of generating spatially-controlled cell patterns using 3D printing technologies, where cell function and viability are preserved within the printed construct.[1]:1 The first patent related to this technology was filed in the United States in 2003 and granted in 2006
Using 3D bioprinting for fabricating biological constructs typically involves dispensing cells onto a biocompatible scaffold using a successive layer-by-layer approach to generate tissue-like three-dimensional structures. Given that every tissue in the body is naturally compartmentalized of different cell types, many technologies for printing these cells vary in their ability to ensure stability and viability of the cells during the manufacturing process. Some of the methods that are used for 3D bioprinting of cells are photolithography, magnetic bioprinting, stereolithography, and direct cell extrusion. When a bioprinted pre-tissue is transferred to an incubator then this cell-based pre-tissue matures into a tissue.

While most are familiar with the potential for 3D printers to pump out plastic odds and ends for around the home, the technology also has far-reaching applications in the medical field. Research is already underway to develop 3D bioprinters able to create things as complex as human organs, and now engineering students in Canada have created a 3D printer that produces skin grafts for burn victims.
The new machine was developed by University of Toronto engineering students Arianna McAllister and Lian Leng, who worked in collaboration with Professor Axel Guenther, Boyang Zhang and Dr. Marc Jeschke, the head of Sunnybrook Hospital's Ross Tilley Burn Centre.
While the traditional treatment for serious burns involves removing healthy skin from another part of the body so it can be grafted onto the affected area, the PrintAlive machine could put an end to such painful harvesting by printing large, continuous layers of tissue – including hair follicles, sweat glands and other human skin complexities – onto a hydrogel. Importantly, the device uses the patient's own cells, thereby eliminating the problem of the tissue being rejected by their immune system.
The PrintAlive skin graft application and bioprinting system
Because growing a culture of a patient's skin cells ready for grafting can typically take more than two weeks, the machine prints the patient's cells out in patterns of spots or stripes rather than a continuous sheet, to make them go further. The result is a cell-populated wound dressing that reproduces key features of human skin and can be precisely controlled in terms of thickness, structure and composition.
A typical process for bioprinting 3D tissues.
A typical process for bioprinting 3D tissues
Having been under development since 2008, the team recently completed a second-generation, pre-commercial prototype that they say is smaller than an average microwave. This makes it portable enough to easily transport, which gives it the potential to one day revolutionize burn care in rural and developing areas around the world.
Examples of human-scale bioprinted tissues.
 Examples of human-scale bioprinted tissues
"Ninety per cent of burns occur in low and middle income countries, with greater mortality and morbidity due to poorly-equipped health care systems and inadequate access to burn care facilities," says Jeschke. "Regenerating skin using a patient’s own stem cells can significantly decrease the risk of death in developing countries."
Timeframe for the development of various types of 3D bioprinted tissues.

Time Line For Developing Different kinds of Bio printers

Inkjet bioprinting. 

Inkjet printers (also known as drop-on-demand printers) are the most commonly used type of printer for both nonbiological and biological applications. Controlled volumes of liquid are delivered to predefined locations. The first inkjet printers used for bioprinting applications were modified versions of commercially available 2D ink-based printers. The ink in the cartridge was replaced with a biological material, and the paper was replaced with an electronically controlled elevator stage to provide control of the z axis. (the third dimension in addition to the x and yaxes). Now, inkjet-based bioprinters are custom-designed to handle and print biological materials at increasing resolution, precision and speed. Inkjet printers use thermal. or acoustic forces to eject drops of liquid onto a substrate, which can support or form part of the final construct.
Thermal inkjet printers function by electrically heating the print head to produce pulses of pressure that force droplets from the nozzle. Several studies have demonstrated that this localized heating, which can range from 200 °C to 300 °C, does not have a substantial impact either on the stability of biological molecules, such as DNA., or on the viability or post-printing function of mammalian cells. It has been demonstrated that the short duration of the heating (~2 μs) results in an overall temperature rise of only 4–10 °C in the printer head55. The advantages of thermal inkjet printers include high print speed, low cost and wide availability. However, the risk of exposing cells and materials to thermal and mechanical stress, low droplet directionality, nonuniform droplet size, frequent clogging of the nozzle and unreliable cell encapsulation pose considerable disadvantages for the use of these printers in 3D bioprinting.
Many inkjet printers contain a piezoelectric crystal that creates an acoustic wave inside the print head to break the liquid into droplets at regular intervals. Applying a voltage to a piezoelectric material induces a rapid change in shape, which in turn generates the pressure needed to eject droplets from the nozzle. Other inkjet printers use an acoustic radiation force associated with an ultrasound field to eject liquid droplets from an air-liquid interface. Ultrasound parameters, such as pulse, duration and amplitude, can be adjusted to control the size of droplets and the rate of ejection. Advantages of acoustic inkjet printers include the capability to generate and control a uniform droplet size and ejection directionality as well as to avoid exposure of cells to heat and pressure stressors. Additionally, the sheer stress imposed on cells at the nozzle tip wall can be avoided by using an open-pool nozzle-less ejection system. This reduces the potential loss of cell viability and function, and avoids the problem of nozzle clogging. Acoustic ejectors can be combined as multiple ejectors in an adjustable array format, facilitating simultaneous printing of multiple cell and material types. Even so, there remain some concerns regarding the 15–25 kHz frequencies used by piezoelectric inkjet bioprinters and their potential to induce damage of the cell membrane and lysis. Inkjet bioprinters also have limitations on material viscosity (ideally below 10 centipoise) owing to the excessive force required to eject drops using solutions at higher viscosities.
One common drawback of inkjet bioprinting is that the biological material has to be in a liquid form to enable droplet formation; as a result, the printed liquid must then form a solid 3D structure with structural organization and functionality. Our group and others have shown that this limitation could be addressed by using materials that can be crosslinked after deposition by printing using chemical, pH or ultraviolet mechanisms. However, the requirement for crosslinking often slows the bioprinting process and involves chemical modification of naturally occurring ECM materials, which changes both their chemical and material properties. Additionally, some crosslinking mechanisms require products or conditions that are toxic to cells, which results in decreased viability and functionality. Another limitation encountered by users of inkjet-based bioprinting technology is the difficulty in achieving biologically relevant cell densities. Often, low cell concentrations (fewer than 10 million cells/ml). are used to facilitate droplet formation, avoid nozzle clogging and reduce shear stress. Higher cell concentrations may also inhibit some of the hydrogel crosslinking mechanisms.
Notwithstanding these drawbacks, inkjet-based bioprinters also offer advantages, including low cost, high resolution, high speed and compatibility with many biological materials. Another advantage of inkjet printing is the potential to introduce concentration gradients of cells, materials or growth factors throughout the 3D structure by altering drop densities or sizes. Because of the availability of standard 2D inkjet printers, researchers in many labs can readily access, modify and experiment with 3D inkjet–based bioprinting technology. Commercially available inkjet bioprinters are also relatively cost-effective owing to their simple components and readily available design and control software. The wide application of this technology by many groups has accelerated advances in the capacity of inkjet bioprinters to accurately deposit with high resolution and precision controllable droplet sizes with uniform cellular densities. Droplet size and deposition rate can be controlled electronically, and can range from <1 pl to >300 pl in volume with rates of 1–10,000 droplets per second. Patterns of single drops, each containing one or two cells, in lines ~50 μm wide, have been printed. Future advances will continue to adapt this technology to handle and deposit other biologically relevant materials, in a manner that both facilitates their printing and provides the essential biological, structural and functional components of the tissue. Additional complexities, such as the requirement for multiple cell types and materials, will also have to be addressed.
Notable examples of the inkjet bioprinting approach include the regeneration of functional skin and cartilage in situ. The high printing speed of the approach enables direct deposition of cells and materials directly into skin or cartilage lesions. These applications achieved rapid crosslinking of the cell-containing material via either a biocompatible chemical reaction or a photoinitiator and crosslinking through exposure of the material to ultraviolet light. The inkjet approach facilitated the deposition of either primary cells or stem cell types with uniform density throughout the volume of the lesion, and maintained high cell viability and function after printing. These studies demonstrate the potential of inkjet-based bioprinting to regenerate functional structures.
Layered cartilage constructs have also been fabricated in vitro using a combination of electrospinning and inkjet bioprinting. The hybrid electrospinning–inkjet bioprinting technique enabled the fabrication of a layered construct that supported cell function and maintained suitable mechanical and structural properties. Inkjet bioprinters have also been used to fabricate bone constructs, matured in vitro before implantation into mice. These constructs continued to maturein vivo and formed highly mineralized tissues with similar density as endogenous bone tissue.

Microextrusion bioprinting. 

The most common and affordable nonbiological 3D printers use microextrusion. Microextrusion bioprinters usually consist of a temperature-controlled material-handling and dispensing system and stage, with one or both capable of movement along the xyand z axes, a fiberoptic light source to illuminate the deposition area and/or for photoinitiator activation, a video camera for x-y-z command and control, and a piezoelectric humidifier. A few systems use multiple print heads to facilitate the serial dispensing of several materials without retooling. Nearly 30,000 3D printers are sold worldwide every year, and academic institutions are increasingly purchasing and applying microextrusion technology in tissue and organ engineering research. Industrial printers are considerably more expensive but have better resolution, speed, spatial controllability and more flexibility in the material they can print.
Microextrusion printers function by robotically controlled extrusion of a material, which is deposited onto a substrate by a microextrusion head. Microextrusion yields continuous beads of material rather than liquid droplets. Small beads of material are deposited in two dimensions, as directed by the CAD-CAM software, the stage or microextrusion head is moved along the z axis, and the deposited layer serves as a foundation for the next layer. A myriad of materials are compatible with microextrusion printers, including materials such as hydrogels, biocompatible copolymers and cell spheroids. The most common methods to extrude biological materials for 3D bioprinting applications are pneumatic or mechanical (piston or screw) dispensing systems. Mechanical dispensing systems might provide more direct control over the material flow because of the delay of the compressed gas volume in pneumatic systems. Screw-based systems might give more spatial control and are thought to be beneficial for the dispensing of hydrogels with higher viscosities, although pneumatic systems could also be suited to dispense high-viscosity materials. Pneumatically driven printers have the advantage of having simpler drive-mechanism components, with the force limited only by the air-pressure capabilities of the system. Mechanically driven mechanisms have smaller and more complex components, which provide greater spatial control but often at reduced maximum force capabilities.
Microextrusion methods have a very wide range of fluid properties that are compatible with the process, with a broad array of biocompatible materials described in the literature. Materials with viscosities ranging from 30 mPa/s to >6 × 107 mPa/s  have been shown to be compatible with microextrusion bioprinters, with higher-viscosity materials often providing structural support for the printed construct and lower-viscosity materials providing a suitable environment for maintaining cell viability and function. For microextrusion bioprinting, researchers often exploit materials that can be thermally crosslinked and/or possess sheer-thinning properties. Several biocompatible materials can flow at room temperature, which allows their extrusion together with other biological components, but crosslink into a stable material at body temperature. Alternatively, materials that flow at physiologically suitable temperatures (35–40 °C), but crosslink at room temperature may also be useful for bioprinting applications. Materials with shear-thinning properties are commonly used for microextrusion applications. This non-newtonian material behavior causes a decrease in viscosity in response to increases in shear rate. The high shear rates that are present at the nozzle during biofabrication allow these materials to flow through the nozzle, and upon deposition, the shear rate decreases, causing a sharp increase in viscosity. The high resolution of microextrusion systems permits the bioprinter to accurately fabricate complex structures designed using CAD software and facilitate the patterning of multiple cell types.
The main advantage of microextrusion bioprinting technology is the ability to deposit very high cell densities. Achieving physiological cell densities in tissue-engineered organs is a major goal for the bioprinting field. Some groups have used solutions comprised only of cells to create 3D tissue constructs with microextrusion printing. Multicellular cell spheroids are deposited and allowed to self-assemble into the desired 3D structure. Tissue spheroids are thought to possess material properties that can replicate the mechanical and functional properties of the tissue ECM. Depending on the viscoelastic properties of the building blocks, the apposed cell aggregates fuse with each other, forming a cohesive macroscopic construct. One advantage of the self-assembling spheroid strategy is potentially accelerated tissue organization and the ability to direct the formation of complex structures. This approach shows promise in enabling the generation of an intraorgan branched vascular tree in 3D thick tissue or organ constructs by patterning self-assembling vascular tissue spheroids, in 3D bioprinted organs. The most common technology used for scaffold-less tissue spheroid bioprinting is mechanical microextrusion.
Cell viability after microextrusion bioprinting is lower than that with inkjet-based bioprinting; cell survival rates are in the range of 40–86%, with the rate decreasing with increasing extrusion pressure and increasing nozzle gauge. The decreased viability of cells deposited by microextrusion is likely to result from the shear stresses inflicted on cells in viscous fluids. Dispensing pressure may have a more substantial effect on cell viability than the nozzle diameter. Although cell viability can be maintained using low pressures and large nozzle sizes, the drawback may be a major loss of resolution and print speed. Maintaining high viability is essential for achieving tissue functionality. Although many studies report maintenance of cell viability after printing, it is important for researchers to demonstrate that these cells not only survive, but also perform their essential functions in the tissue construct.
Increasing print resolution and speed is a challenge for many users of microextrusion bioprinting technology. Nonbiological microextrusion printers are capable of 5 μm and 200 μm resolution at linear speeds of 10–50 μm/s. Whether these parameters can be matched using biologically relevant materials while maintaining high cell viability and function is yet to be seen. Use of improved biocompatible materials, such as dynamically crosslinked hydrogels, that are mechanically robust during printing and that develop secondary mechanical properties after printing might help to maintain cell viablity and function after printing. Single-phase, dual-phase and continuous-gradation scaffolds are also being designed using similar principles. Additionally, improvements in nozzle, syringe or motor-control systems might reduce print times as well as allow deposition of multiple diverse materials simultaneously.
Microextrusion bioprinters have been used to fabricate multiple tissue types, including aortic valves, branched vascular trees and in vitro pharmokinetic as well as tumor models. Although the fabrication time can be slow for high-resolution complex structures, constructs have been fabricated that range from clinically relevant tissue sizes down to micro-tissues in microfluidic chambers.

Laser-assisted bioprinting. 

Laser-assisted bioprinting (LAB) is based on the principles of laser-induced forward transfer. Initially developed to transfer metals, laser-induced forward transfer technology has been successfully applied to biological material, such as peptides, DNA and cells. Although less common than inkjet or microextrusion bioprinting, LAB is increasingly being used for tissue- and organ-engineering applications. A typical LAB device consists of a pulsed laser beam, a focusing system, a 'ribbon' that has a donor transport support usually made from glass that is covered with a laser-energy-absorbing layer (e.g., gold or titanium) and a layer of biological material (e.g., cells and/or hydrogel) prepared in a liquid solution, and a receiving substrate facing the ribbon. LAB functions using focused laser pulses on the absorbing layer of the ribbon to generate a high-pressure bubble that propels cell-containing materials toward the collector substrate.
The resolution of LAB is influenced by many factors, including the laser fluence (energy delivered per unit area), the surface tension, the wettability of the substrate, the air gap between the ribbon and the substrate, and the thickness and viscosity of the biological layer. Because LAB is nozzle-free, the problem of clogging with cells or materials that plague other bioprinting technologies is avoided. LAB is compatible with a range of viscosities (1–300 mPa/s) and can print mammalian cells with negligible effect on cell viability and function. LAB can deposit cells at a density of up to 108 cells/ml with microscale resolution of a single cell per drop using a laser pulse repetition rate of 5 kHz, with speeds up to 1,600 mm/s .
Despite these advantages, the high resolution of LAB requires rapid gelation kinetics to achieve high shape fidelity, which results in a relatively low overall flow rate. Preparation of each individual ribbon, which is often required for each printed cell or hydrogel type, is time-consuming and may become onerous if multiple cell types and/or materials have to be co-deposited. Because of the nature of the ribbon cell coating, it can be difficult to accurately target and position cells. Some of these challenges might be overcome by using cell-recognition scanning technology to enable the laser beam to select a single cell per pulse. This so-called 'aim-and-shoot' procedure could ensure that each printed droplet contains a predefined number of cells. However, statistical cell printing can be achieved using a ribbon with very high cell concentrations, avoiding the need for such specific cell targeting. Finally, metallic residues are present in the final bioprinted construct, owing to the vaporization of the metallic laser-absorbing layer during printing. Approaches to avoid this contamination include the use of nonmetallic absorbing layers and modifying the printing process to not require an absorbable layer. The high cost of these systems is also a concern for basic tissue-engineering research, although as is the case with most 3D printing technologies, these costs are rapidly decreasing.
The application of LAB to fabricate a cellularized skin construct demonstrated the potential to print clinically relevant cell densities in a layered tissue construct, but it is unclear whether this system can be scaled up for larger tissue sizes. In vivo LAB has been used to deposit nano-hydroxyapatite in a mouse calvaria 3D defect model. In these studies, a 3 mm diameter, 600 μm–deep calvarial hole was filled as a proof of concept. Laser 3D printing has been used to fabricate medical devices, such as a customized, noncellular, bioresorbable tracheal splint that was implanted into a young patient with localized tracheobronchomalacia. Future studies might use materials that can directly integrate into a patient's tissue. Additionally, incorporating the patients' own cells may facilitate the applicability of these types of constructs to contribute to both the structural and functional components of the tissue.

Print Your Skin And Organs Using 3D Bioprinter

What Apple patents say about Apple Television

One of the most recent patents that could well relate to Apple's future venture into the living room is a patent that described a "desk-free computer" that uses a super-intelligent projector.
The computer's projector contains an accelerometer, ambient light sensor and depth sensor to ensure the optimum image is projected onto any surface you choose. These qualities combined with the fact that it's wireless make it completely portable.
Speculation suggests that, if paired with a suitable controller, this patent could be used for the rumoured Apple television.

What Apple patents say about Apple accessories

Apple doesn't just patent technology that relate to its main hardware. The company also has several patents covering accessories and other gadgets.

Health-tracking headphones

In February 2014, Apple was granted a patent for health monitoring headphones that can detect body temperature, heart rate and perspiration levels. This "sports monitoring system for headphones, earbuds and/or headsets" adds evidence to the theory that Apple has a keen interest in the fitness and health industry.

Siri Smart Dock 

An intriguing patent filed by Apple describes a "smart dock" that would always be listening for spoken commands. Ideal for use with Siri, the "smart dock for activating a voice recognition modes of a portable electronic device" patent covers an accessory that could include a speaker, microphone and built-in screen as well as the ability to integrate Siri into your home.
When an iPad or iPhone is paired with the unit, Siri would constantly listen out for prompts, such as play a song or skip, for example.

iPen smart stylus

Apple actually has a total of 22 'iPen' patents under its belt, according to Patently Apple.
The iPen described in the patents is effectively a smart stylus. It could have sensors that enable the pen to recognise the orientation it's being held in relative to the touchscreen of the device being used. This would improve the accuracy and experience of using a stylus. It could also have a camera, audio recorder, laser pointer and projector built in.
A new patent published in March describes a stylus that comes complete with an extendable nib that may help to replicate multiple tools such as pens, paintbrushes and pencils. In addition to being able to extend the nib, Apple's patent also suggests that the stylus nib could be swapped out for a variety of different nibs for different purposes (above).

Solar charging iPhone, MacBook accessory

Apple's future portable devices could benefit from a portable solar panel accessory that Appleappears to be investigating. A patent published by the US Patent & Trademark Office in October 2013 describes a power management system that would provide energy for an iOS device or MacBook until the battery is fully charged.
Apple is certainly interested in solar power. The majority of power generated at its iCloud datacenter in North Carolina is generated from on-site solar panels that could power 17,600 homes for a year, according to Reuters. Just this week, Apple has announced plans to build a components plant in Arizona that will run entirely on renewable energy, including solar energy.

Self-adjusting earphones

In July 2013, USPTO published an Apple patent application covering earphones that can automatically adjust audio output based on the quality of the seal detected by a built-in microphone or by measuring electrical currents.
The patent describes earbuds that can measure how well they are sealed to user's ears in order to adjust the audio to provide the optimum listening experience. 

Advanced Smart Cover/ Smart Case

Apple has published several patents relating to its Smart Cover and Smart Case designs for the iPad. Each patent adds advanced functionality to the cases.
In June 2014, USPTO published an Apple patent filing for an "Integrated visual notification system in an accessory device," which describes an iPad case or cover that can protect thescreen while also providing illuminated alerts when the iPad gets a notification, for example.
An Apple patent that emerged in March describes an iPad Smart Cover that acts as an inductive charging point to provide wireless power to the iPad and other devices.
When Apple sent out the invitations for its iPad Air launch, it was widely expected that Apple was about to launch such accessory, as the company hinted "We still have a lot to cover."
Another Smart Cover that Apple's been investigating features an integrated multitouch keyboard. The keyboard, while part of the Smart Cover, can be detached for more comfortable use.

What Apple patents say about future tech

While many of Apple's patents can be related to current Apple products, some are extra advanced and seem quite futuristic. Here's a peek of what the future could hold if the technology listed in Apple's patents ever becomes a reality.

Siri-controlled home

Apple has been granted patents for a system of sensors that could allow Siri to take over your house. Together, the network of sensors could be used to detect motion, time, light and more to help Siri provide relevant information and carry out actions.
One example used in the patent filings is that Siri could remind you to take your medicine when it detects that it is 8am and you're in the kitchen (presumably where your pills and water are).
This patent was actually filed back in 2005, before the first iPhone had even launched (the original iPhone came later in 2007). The patent references other patents that date all the way back to the 1970s, so it's clear that voice control has been a keen interest for Apple for years.

Virtual reality head mounted display

Apple has been awarded two patents by USPTO that cover head mounted displays, one that would work in a similar way to the Oculus Rift, allowing users to play immersive games wearing the goggles, and another that takes a more Google Glass approach with a smaller design.
The first of the two head mounted displays described in a patent filed in 2006 is designed to provide optimum image quality using a laser light engine. The second patent, filed in 2008, describes Apple goggles with two adjustable screens that can be aligned with your eyes and adjusted for those who wear glasses.
Further still, the patent suggests that the goggles could identify users by tracking eyeballs, voice and fingerprints.
Do new augmented reality patents hint at Apple's answer to Google Glass?

Virtual keyboard

In February 2013, USPTO published a patent that describes a new depth perception technology that could be used to introduce virtual keyboards.
The application covers a "Depth perception device and system" which can determine the distance to an object or the depth of an object using a combination of image capturing sensors and lasers.
The technology could be used in combination with a projected control panel such as a keyboard to create a virtual keyboard. The technology would be able to determine the selection of a particular button or input of the control panel by determining the depth of a user's finger, a stylus or other input mechanism.

Advanced Sensor UI & the “pull” gesture 

Apple seems keen to replace, or at least augment touch screen technology with advanced hand sensing. This will detect hand movements surrounding the device.
Patent 8,514,221 shows that Apple isn’t just looking to patent the physical system, but gestures as well. One gesture that is looking to join pinch to zoom, swipe and tap, could be the “pull” gesture. This is where you have your fingers on the screen, and then move them up and away, pulling an object from the screen. What feature this gesture could implement is still in the secret lab, but it will enable an interesting new level of interaction with iOS.
Pull gesture

Haptic feedback

Apple hasn’t given up on Haptic feedback. No siree! What seemed a bit of a buzz technology for other companies a few years ago is still being developed inside the Apple labs. Haptic feedback systems put a low level voltage through a display to recreate the physical sensation of touching buttons on a flat piece of glass.
Apple's U.S. Patent No. 8,378,797 for a "Method and apparatus for localization of haptic feedback" shows that Apple is looking to develop a more accurate haptic feedback system. It is clear that haptics can move far beyond the ‘buzzy’ screens of older smartphones, and could enable apple to create a virtual home button, and on-screen keys that feel similar to the real thing.
Haptics

Pressure sensitive display

An additional patent relating to the way we use the iPad describes a pressure sensitive display. USPTO in January published a patent that covers a device such as an iPad with a display that uses built-in pressure sensors to enhance navigation.
The patent, titled "Gesture and touch input detection through force sensing," suggests future iPads could have at least three force sensors beneath the screen.

Vibrate feature

Future iPads could have the vibrate feature built in thanks to an audio codec chip that could allow the iPad to set up vibration alerts for notifications like we can for the iPhone.

What Apple patents say about the future of iOS

iOS 8 was previewed by Apple during WWDC in June, and is set to arrive on our devices in September, but there are some features that Apple has patents for but has not yet implimented. Perhaps these features will come to iOS in a future version of the software.

Clearer contacts in Messages app

Apple hopes to help prevent those embarrassing misdirected text messages with this next patent, which suggests that we could soon see our friends' faces as the background to our conversations in the Messages app.
Apple describes an invention that simply uses the contact's picture as the background image for conversations with that contact. When there's more than one person in a conversation, Apple adds text and multiple images to the conversation.

Driver lock-out

Apple has been granted a patent that relates to the dangerous activity of texting while driving. Apple has invented a lock-out mechanism for drivers, which would prevent drivers from being able to text while behind the wheel.
One embodiment of Apple's invention uses a motion analyser, a scenery analyser and a lock-out mechanism to determine how fast the device is moving (indicating that it's in a car) and where the holder of the device is located (driver's seat or passenger seat). If the device then determines that the holder of the device is also the driver of a vehicle, the lock-out mechanism will disable some functions of the phone, such as the messages app.
Other embodiments involve slight modification of the vehicle itself to send out signals to tell the device to lock-out, which could hint that the technology may come with a future version of CarPlay.
Apple's "Auto-station tuning" patent suggests Apple is looking into the ability to automatically switch between radio stations and TV stations depending on user preferences. This could be used to for iOS devices, but it's possible we could see this technology used in the Apple TV, too.

Transparent text messages

Apple could be planning to introduce transparent text messages with future iPhones or iOS iterations, according to a patent filed in late March 2014.
The system revolves around the background of an application being modified to display a live feed of whatever the rear camera is looking at – creating an effect like the iPhone itself (or at least the portion covered by the screen) is transparent.
The system can be activated via a button inside the app button which then transforms the interface from the regular background to a live video version.

Battery-saving mode

Several of Apple's competitors have already got a battery-saving mode in their devices, butApple has yet to introduce such feature in iOS. However, that could soon change if patents published in March are anything to go by.
Apple appears to be investigating a way to save iPhone battery power by learning the user's behaviour. Its patents describe a system that can learn patterns in behaviour to figure out when the user is less likely to be using their device, during which time it can automatically reduce performance and disable some features, for example.

Age-monitoring

As gadgets age, the performance of those gadgets worsens. Apple has acknowledged this in apatent issued in March that aims to help the aging process of a device happen slower, by monitoring the condition of the device and modifying parameters to maximise its performance, battery efficiency and user experience. The aim is to help the device meet its life expectancy

Apples Patents For Future Technologies

 
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