IBM may be the king of patents, and Apple's patent applications grace these pages rather frequently, but Microsoft's not one to rest on its IP laurels, either. A couple of newly published patents out of Redmond have made their way to the web: one for securely pairing wireless devices and one for 3D rangefinder camera technology. The pairing tech works via a direct connection between devices using Bluetooth or WiFi and an automated, two-step authentication process. First, a request is sent by an initiating handset and is authenticated by its target using an address book of recognized devices. Next, the two devices exchange encrypted security keys to cement their digital friendship, leaving you free to exchange your favorite episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000 or latest LOLcat pictures with the greatest of ease.

Microsoft's other patent of interest is for "a 3D camera for determining distances to regions in a scene." That's not a new concept by any means, but this new bit of IP integrates all the functions of such an imager on a single chip. Essentially, it claims an image sensor, a light source to illuminate the scene being shot and a controller to gate the pixels on the sensor on and off and correct for inaccuracies caused by other light sources. It works by projecting the light source and determining the distance to various points based upon the time it takes for the light to bounce off the target and reach the camera sensor. Want to know more? You can haz all the patent particulars at the source links below.