When Amazon's Dash buttons first debuted two years ago, many thought it was an April fool's joke. A device you could press just to order toilet paper? As it turned out of course, it wasn't a joke at all. From surprise chocolates to Calvin Klein underwear, there are now well over 250 brands that have joined the one-button-press bandwagon. It's no surprise then that Walmart wants to get in on the action too.
The five biggest tech companies have applied for more than 52,000 patents since 2009, according to a report by CB Insights. And the applications tell a story about where each of the tech giants is strong and where they're weak. For instance, the patent applications show that Apple lags badly in artificial intelligence, one of the fastest-growing segments in tech. Microsoft leads AI with more than 200 patent applications since 2009, and Google comes in second with 150. Apple came in last among the top five.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on Thursday published an Apple patent application for a new "vaporizer" technology. The patent application describes a "chamber body" that can take an unidentified substance that will then be "vaporized or sublimated into a vapor." The patent application, which was earlier discovered by Digital Trends, fails to mention exactly how the technology would be used in the real world. Still, as a major technology company, it's not immediately clear what Apple would want with a vaporizer. While the company is dipping its toes into the healthcare industry, vaporizers don't seem to be in its wheelhouse.