Patent App: Customize Products In-The-Packaging

April 3, 2013

Customers at Apple’s retail stores may some day be able to purchase products and immediately load them up with a customized collection of music and apps from a kiosk, all without taking the product from its retail packaging. The invention would allow someone to purchase an iPhone as a gift, for example, then activate and load it with songs or albums personally selected for the recipient. In a patent application filed by the company this week, Apple provided details on the invention, which they described as, “A method for providing customized content to an electronic device…including activating the electronic device through a packaging that substantially surrounds the electronic device.” The application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office explains that the packaging would allow access to the 30-pin or Lightning port of inner device. The buyer would approach a kiosk, plug in the device, and then use a touch-screen to select what music, apps or other software to purchase and load. In another version of the patent, loading apps or music would be performed wirelessly. Companies typically file patent applications to protect certain technology inventions, but doing so never guarantees that  the invention will ever be commercially produced. In this case, it’s impossible to know if Apple intends to use the technology within its own retail stores or simply license it to others—if the patent is granted. Download (pdf) the entire patent application for more details.

Apple submitted this drawing with its patent application, depicting a kiosk and touch-screen, and a customer loading customized content onto a small device (iPod/iPhone?) still in its retail packaging via a cable. The kiosk can potentially print out a customized label (“Happy Birthday”) to attach to the device packaging, also shown in the diagram.

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