Apple Invention To Locate Cars Even With Weak GPS Signal
Apple is now hoping for integrating vehicle related functionality into iOS. This functionality will basically be a iPhone feature that decides when and where the user has parked the car, and then saves those coordinates for guiding the driver back to his car.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office recently published Apple’s applications for “Automatic Identification of Vehicle Location” and “Vehicle Location in Weak Location Signal Scenarios,” which give us a general idea of the workings of this invention.
The basic question is establishing a communication between the device and the vehicle. Bluetooth seems like a sensible option, and has been discussed in great detail in the above mentioned documents along with Bluetooth LE.
This communication is the crux in determining when the user has entered or parked the vehicle. The pairing may be initiated with a door-opening signal or engine ignition, and may be disconnected when the cars stops and is parked.
Apart from these measures, sensor output from an iPhone’s motion sensor (accelerometer) or GPS can be used to determine the motion state of the car.
Once the car is determined as being parked, the system marks the position and tracks the user’s motion as they walk away. Ideally, the handset would have a strong and consistent GPS signal; however that is not always possible due numerous obstructions. So instead of GPS, the iPhone is to use sensors to identify the movement of the user.
Using the data from both the accelerometer and periodic GPS locks, the system is able to identify the location of the user in reference to their car.
For tracking, there are various techniques available, including:
- Motion data processing
- Time stamps
- Gyroscope data
- Pedometer data
However, the most applicable is the accelerometer, which determine motion, direction and speed over time.
To find their parked car, users can ask Siri for directions with a command like, “Find my car.” As a result, a map or audio directions are provided for navigation.
It is not yet known if Apple intends to introduce this feature in an upcoming iOS build, though the company has already declared that work has started on vehicle integration.
Though it was announced earlier that iOS features like Siri, navigation, iMessage and more were going to be integrated into vehicle infotainment systems, a rather more useful system like parked car mapping solution would be a greater achievement.
“It’s something that people want. And I think that Apple can do this in a unique way, and better than anyone else. And so it’s a key focus for us.”
– Tim Cook, Apple’s Chief Executive Officer.