How do you get your favorite author to autograph a book when it's digitally stored in iTunes? Apple may have a way.
Published Thursday by the US Patent and Trademark Office, a patent appropriately called "Embedding an autograph in an electronic book" envisions how an author can wirelessly send an autograph to a nearby mobile device.
The e-book would contain a special autograph page, or the device itself would allow the page to be generated on the fly by the author. Using a special app such as iBooks Author, the author would send an autograph to the page via Bluetooth or another wireless technology. The author and the receiving device would naturally have to be near each other for all of this to work.
A certificate would be transferred as proof that the autograph is authentic. An autograph could also first pass through Apple's online system to encrypt it and confirm that it's the real thing.
What if you can't find your favorite author in person? The patent application also envisions a virtual signing that can be conducted online. The author could invite people to a chat room or fire up an instant messaging program and securely transmit an autograph to the authenticated devices of people on the receiving end.
Apple uses e-books as an example, but the technology can extend to music, videos, and other digital media.