by Dom Esposito
December 13, 2013
A recently discovered Apple patent application (via MacRumors), details the use of geofencing to activate specific features inside of a vehicle. The patent application was filed in June 2013 crediting Sylvain Louboutin as an inventor and was published in November 2013. The patent describes an in-car accessory that can be used in combination with an iOS device and geofencing to activate certain features. Simply titled, "Accessory control with geo-fencing," this device would be linked to a mobile device and perform various actions within a vehicle based on the device's location. Here's more information from the patent application:
The first signal can identify a current or future location of the vehicle. The mobile phone can generate one or more virtual geofences based at least in part on the location of the vehicle as determined from the first signal. For example, a geofence can be defined as a circular boundary centered on the vehicle's location, the radius being equal to a pre-defined distance. The mobile phone can repeatedly estimate its own location. Upon detecting that the mobile phone has crossed a geofence (e.g., generally or in a particular direction), the mobile phone can generate and transmit a second signal to the vehicle. The accessory can control or coordinate control of one or more vehicle functions in response to receipt of the second signal.Apple describes a highly targeted geofencing system that would be specific enough to determine if you were close to the trunk, or walking away after exiting the vehicle. Obviously, there are many uses for this patent, but the first thing that comes to mind is an accessory that would turn a normal vehicle into an Apple approved smart car. In my opinion, it would be much easier to sell a connected car accessory than a a new "iCar." Unfortunately, Apple has a massive archive of patents and there's no way to tell if this one will ever become reality, but either way, it's nice to know that Cupertino is still innovating. If you'd like to check out the entire patent, it can be found using this link.