Apple Seeks Patent for Potential iPhone Waterproofing Technique

Today's topics include what an Apple patent application suggests about iPhone design, speculation about new features coming in the Samsung Galaxy S7, updates to the Microsoft Band 2, and an interactive shopping application powered by IBM's Watson question-answering computer.

Apple is applying for a patent for a technology that could allow the company to build waterproof iPhones in the future by protecting external headphone ports and charging cords with special self-healing rubber receptacles.

The patent application, which was originally filed by Apple on June 9, 2014, and finally posted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Dec. 10, is seen as a hint of a future feature in the company's flagship smartphones.

Other smartphones on the market already claim to be waterproof, including models from Samsung, but iPhones have not yet had the feature.

A pressure-sensitive display and a high-speed charging port are the latest features that will reportedly be included in Samsung's next flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S7, which is expected to debut in March 2016.

The Wall Street Journal said the pressure-sensitive display and high-speed charging port could also be joined by a retina scanner in some S7 models, based on information from people who are familiar with the phones.

Just in time for the holidays, Microsoft has added new features to its Band 2 wearable that could boost its appeal to fitness buffs and music lovers.

First unveiled during this fall's Windows 10 Hardware event in New York, the Band 2 is a curvier follow-up to the original, hard-edged Band.

Microsoft Devices group announced in a Dec. 10 blog post that the new Band can now remind you to get up and move when you've been still for too long. It also allows you to choose time intervals and days to receive the reminders, as well as turn them off during certain times.

The North Face, maker of outdoor apparel, equipment and footwear, launched a new interactive online shopping application powered by IBM's Watson.

In keeping with The North Face's mission of applying technology to the retail experience, customers can now use natural conversation as they shop online via an intuitive, dialog-based recommendation engine.

The engine is powered by the Watson-based Fluid XPS system and the customer in turn receives outerwear recommendations that are tailored to their needs.

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