Sunday, March 16, 2008

Another bit of Cambridge, England, in the iPhone

Apple has bought a UK patent developed by Lyndsay Williams when she worked at BT

Lyndsay Willams (interviewed in the Technology section last year) is now working as a consultant on the iPhone, because Apple has bought one of the patents on her touch-sensitive 1997 SmartQuill device from BT. (It's the bit that turns the image round when you turn the screen around.) Alas the price has not been disclosed.

She says she's "very happy" but is still working on SenseBulb.

Lyndsay spent the intervening years at Microsoft Research in Cambridge, where she invented the SenseCam. She now operates via her own Girton Laboratories.

The main bit of Cambridge (England) technology in the iPhone is, of course, the ARM chip. This was originally known as the Acorn Risc Machine, and was developed to power a replacement for the Acorn BBC microcomputer. Apple was instrumental in getting this spun off from Acorn, because it wanted to use the chip in the Newton MessagePad. After it was spun off, it became a huge global success, and Apple's 43% shareholding in ARM was soon worth billions. The other major benefactor, apart from Acorn, was chip partner VLSI Technology, Inc.


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