Apple Exploring Enhancing Maps with Augmented Reality

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Aug 18, 2011.

  1. MacRumors, Aug 18, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 18, 2011

    MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    One area that Apple has been heavily investing in over the past few years has been in mapping technology and resources. We'd heard a few years ago that Apple was actively recruiting mapping specialists, and the public signs have been considerable since then.

    In 2009 and 2010, Apple acquired two mapping companies Placebase and Poly 9. Apple has also been actively recruiting for their "Geo Team" to take their Maps app "to the next level". We've even found evidence that iOS 5 might already have some of the underpinnings to Apple's own mapping solution.

    Last week, we saw the first patent application filed by Placebase founder's Jaron Waldman after he began work at Apple. This week, we have found another that's even more interesting.

    Jaron Waldman is credited as the inventor for this Apple-assigned patent application which details the use of augmented reality in assisting with directions and finding points of interest.


    This concept isn't new, of course, and we've seen a number of Augmented Reality applications appear in the App Store. The basic concept revolves around taking live video using your iPhone and then overlaying relevant information, such as points of interest.

    Apple's implementation focuses on searching for a landmark and then getting directions. Here's an example of an existing iPhone app the tries to do similar:


    Screenshot from existing Augmented Reality app​

    Early Augmented Reality applications have been somewhat clumsy, but seem to show a lot of promise.

    Apple files many patent applications each week which means that most never make it into products. Apple's mapping interest, however, has been particularly well known, and we feel there may be a lot coming from Apple in this realm in the near future.

    Article Link: Apple Exploring Enhancing Maps with Augmented Reality
  2. JesterJJZ macrumors 68020


    Jul 21, 2004
  3. japanime macrumors 68000


    Feb 27, 2006
    I would love to see a native maps app with augmented reality features built into iOS, particularly if those maps aren't just limited to North America. Google maps are OK, but I don't feel they cover Japan all that well.
  4. 8CoreWhore macrumors 68020


    Jan 17, 2008
    Big D
    Man, Apple likes to take their sweet time in releasing stuff (and getting it right), but I really, really, want them to get this out soon. :)
  5. Mr. Gates macrumors 68020

    Mr. Gates

    Jun 17, 2009
    --Redmond --------- ----------------Washington---
    It looks cool as it did with the many other Apps that have already done this.

    But I'd be weary of granting Apple a patent nowadays. They don't play well with the other kids.
  6. arbitter macrumors regular

    Nov 12, 2010
    I don't see the point of all this augmented reality. It's a nice idea, but truly, it's going to take ages before this gets into a product, and years after that before it works. And still, it'll take decades before it gives you the right amount of information, not too much, not too little.
  7. legacy fan macrumors newbie

    Apr 12, 2011
    I'd prefer pre-loaded maps (not having to rely on google and your data connection) with features such as Augmented Reality & turn by turn Nav available as add-ons/in-app purchases and work a deal with garmin etc so you're not stepping on their toes (not all of them anyway).

    If every hyperlinked address/location opens the native maps app by default, then it would make more sense & be more fluid and streamlined to continue my Nav or points of interest experience in that app instead of C&P to open up Navigon/Garmin or any other.

    This is really the only feature of iOS IMO where the "keep it simple Apple experience" is more like a Windows headache.
  8. iMartini macrumors member


    Oct 18, 2007
    Seattle, USA
    Not exactly a ringing endorsement of Augmented Reality, since the Rockefeller Center subway station is nowhere near the scene in that screenshot (Times Square). :)
  9. Murgatroyd macrumors member


    Feb 26, 2010
    Staten Island, New Yawk
    How so?

    The app is suggesting to walk one block east to Sixth Avenue and another five to eight blocks north to the Rockefeller Center subway station. With this app to guide your steps.
  10. Winni, Aug 18, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2011

    Winni macrumors 68040


    Oct 15, 2008
    Another software patent application for stuff that a) others have already done and b) that was shown in a lot of Sci-Fi movies that have been made in the last three decades. There's no original idea here, it's just a concept of an implementation of other people's ideas - like so many other things that Apple and other big players have received patents for.

    Patent applications like this are evidence enough that there shouldn't be PATENTS for software. The existing copyright laws are more than sufficient to protect software ideas and implementations. But patenting software is just WRONG and counter-productive. I'm glad that we still don't have that here in Europe (you can only patent a combination of hard- and software in Europe, but not software alone).

    UPDATE: I just read about this. Apparently, the US legal system is changing for the better.
  11. JuneBlug macrumors newbie

    Aug 18, 2011
    See-Through AR glasses

    This all comes alive when proper see-through glasses become available for consumers and connect to the device, so you see the directions arrows right where they belong, on the street! And not on the silly small phone screen held at arm's length!
    That's why @vuzixeurope recent announcement of their STAR1200 is so relevant. Still a bit geeky and pricey, but consumer styled and priced ones can't be far behind.
    I want these for face recognition. I'm terrible remembering names.
  12. satcomer macrumors 603


    Feb 19, 2008
    The Finger Lakes Region
    Hopefully then one could use this new location system to map new roads! It's almost criminal that only ONE map shows the new road after one and half years, in Washington D.C.!
  13. divinox macrumors 68000

    Jul 17, 2011
  14. adder7712 macrumors 68000


    Mar 9, 2009
    Now, this would be cool.

    Apple being Apple. :cool:

    That sort of reminds me of Heavy Rain for the PS3.
  15. Navdakilla macrumors 65816

    Feb 3, 2011
    definetely a cool idea

    Let's see if it actually gets to see the light of day
  16. nylonsteel macrumors 6502a


    Nov 5, 2010
    re quote from article

    "Apple files many patent applications each week..."

    aapl - the invention factory
  17. dumoon macrumors newbie

    Aug 16, 2007
  18. Freyqq macrumors 601

    Dec 13, 2004
  19. jonnysods macrumors 603


    Sep 20, 2006
    There & Back Again
    This would be incredible. Seems like a big data chewer though. And process intensive. But I can see it happening for sure.

    Let's just hope they have the patent!
  20. krburrell macrumors regular

    Dec 5, 2007
  21. Savor Suspended


    Jun 18, 2010
    Sekai Camera (2008)

    ^^^ Probably take several years before we see it perfected like that. Think of that newspaper tablet from 1994. It takes years before it has consumer-level prices. Only CIA or what you see in James Bond have amazing technology like that. Technology that cost in the thousands. I actually did have the Sekai Camera app installed on my iPhone and it just felt clumsy. Deleted it after a day. Augmented reality just isn't there yet.

    I know Apple will find a way to pretend they invented augmented reality like they did with video calling. Motorola already has a fingerprint scanner on their Atrix for goodness sakes.

    What I reallly want to see is future iPhones having a projector like what the Samsung Beam has. But while it projects on the wall, you can actually touch the wall for it to move things around. It responds. I want to get close to seeing things I saw in Minority Report.
  22. tmroper macrumors regular

    Dec 4, 2008
    Palo Alto
    For it to really work on a small screen, there will have to be different overlays for different needs. Otherwise it’ll just be cluttered with annoying information you don’t care about. I could see a social/crowdsourcing approach working to help provide such tailored realities.
  23. Moribund macrumors newbie

    Jul 16, 2011
    Why hope they patent it? Patenting this is exactly the problem. Everyone knows AR is where things are going. There's nothing revolutionary about this and AR programs already exist, but it's a huge, untapped field of potential. Patenting using it like this is really, really bad. What if a company managed to get a patent on GPS navigation?

    Regardless, where AR really comes into its own is when glasses get cheap and light. AR obviously begs us to have the display directly in front of our eyes. Once we can do that, an entire world of possibilities will open up.
  24. BC2009, Aug 18, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2011

    BC2009 macrumors 68000


    Jul 1, 2009
    I think you misunderstand what a patent is. You cannot patent an idea. You must patent a way to implement the idea. For example, even though I think it would be sweet to have a Star Trek Holodeck, I cannot patent the idea of it because I have no way of accomplishing it. Same goes for something as basic as a design patent. Even though somebody can make a mockup-prop of something they have not yet produced a functional device of that kind -- only a mockup. Getting the thing to actually function within the designed form factor requires engineering. If you could patent the idea the Roddenberry family would have made tons of cash suing the makers of flip-phones.

    Patents must specify a working system or method to accomplish something. There are a bunch of guys right now trying to prove alternative power sources that some have mislabeled as "cold fusion". However, they cannot manage to patent these methods because the scientific community is opting to act like 16th century church institutions in denouncing their research. Hence, the scientific "experts" claim that their methods do not work and therefore they are being denied patents. The truth is that many of these scientists are making repeatable observations and creating a theory based on that, but their theory invalidates other theories that existing scientists get hundreds of millions of dollars in research grants for. Lookup "Blacklight Power" for more information on that.

    Anyway, what it boils down to is that "ideas" are not patentable. Edison had an idea for a long-lived version of the electric light bulb long before he perfected it and proved his methods and system were functional. Further, the idea of doing augmented reality with overlaid directions can be accomplished through MANY possible methods -- it depends on how specific the claims are as to whether or not Apple's patent application would run into prior art. The trick is to avoid overly general claims so you don't run into prior art, while avoiding making overly specific claims so competitors can't just dance around your invention and do it slightly differently. Its a balancing act that typically requires several iterations from the USPTO.

    UPDATE: I read the reference you provided and it is awesome. Reading those claims from CyberSource (whose software I have used in the past), I am glad they were invalidated. They did not get very specific and went for the overly broad here. So while you don't want to be too general in your claims to avoid prior art you also don't want to be too general because a court may rule that you are patenting a basic thought process. Check out this article from Nilay Patel too -- a very good read.

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