In recent articles, I've been discussing the impact of sensors on design and the transition from hardware to software. Apple's iPhone platform is a shining example of these trends in action. Today, the Patent Office published several Apple patent applications related to iPhone software. From Mac Rumors:
Object Recognition: Describes methods by which a mobile device user could detect an object via camera, RFID sensor or other means and have their device automatically identify and provide additional information on the object.
Facial Detection: Utilizes automatic facial detection via a camera on the device to determine that a user is present or passively interacting with the device. The method may also be used to grant or deny users access to restricted applications or other data.
Voice Modulation: Describes methods for modulating voice audio output to simulate additional voices. Apple's examples describe a mother who could have an audiobook read in her voice to her child or a student who wishes to alter a section of a podcast lecture for emphasis.