Geofencing to Unlock Vehicle Functions Detailed in New Apple Patent Application

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Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
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In June, Apple filed a new patent application [PDF] with the European Patent Office describing a system using an in-car accessory with an iOS device to set up geofences to activate various vehicle functions as a user approaches a vehicle.

According to the 15-claim application, which specifically describes "Accessory control with geo-fencing", the accessory (which may or may not be built-in to the car itself) would transmit a signal to a linked mobile device, allowing the device to monitor the location of a vehicle. When the mobile device (and the user) are close enough to the car, the mobile device would transmit a second signal to the accessory within the car, allowing it to trigger functions like door unlocking, defrosting, heating, trunk opening, seat warming, and more.

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 notes that geofences can be made in shapes that parallel vehicle components for very specific in-app functions. For example, a geofence could be tied specifically to a trunk or a door, with the mobile device able to identify the absolute-location boundaries of each individual geofence. With such accurate geofencing, a car's trunk could be opened as a user approaches, for groceries or bags to be put away, while the car doors stay locked until later approached.

Geofences can also function on time, with features like a car's heating system able to be activated when a mobile device estimates that an owner is "five minutes away and approaching the vehicle."

Like Apple's iBeacons, which are designed to transmit specific location information to mobile devices, Apple's vehicle accessory system would potentially send signals over Bluetooth LE to activate various functions within the car. Apple suggests Wi-Fi and cellular hardware could also be included in order for the accessory to communicate with mobile devices when owners are located far from their cars.

Along with serving as a possible expansion of the use of Apple's iBeacon technology, the geofencing system described in the patent could also be a future expansion of Apple's iOS in the Car initiative, which is designed to provide enhanced iOS integration in automobiles.

The first hints of iOS in the Car have been bundled into the new 2014 Honda Civic, allowing users to access HondaLink apps for iOS to connect to an iPhone 5 or later. Apple's ultimate goal for iOS in the Car is far more advanced, however, with iOS built-in to in-dash systems.

The patent, which was filed in June and published in November, lists former Apple employee Sylvain Louboutin as an inventor.

Update: The original U.S. patent application from June 2012 has now been published.

Article Link: Geofencing to Unlock Vehicle Functions Detailed in New Apple Patent Application
 

osx11

macrumors 6502a
Jan 16, 2011
825
0
Nothing can go wrong here! ;) at least it will be easier for the NSA to see where people are.
 

clukas

macrumors 6502a
May 3, 2010
958
318
This sounds like it has a ton of potential. Apple could work with car manufacturers to integrate features such as touch id to make this system more secure.
 

69650

Suspended
Mar 23, 2006
3,367
1,878
England
I really fail to get excited by all these Apple patents as so few of them ever see the light of day. I don't think anyone should ever be granted a patent until they have actually proved the concept works by actually building and releasing the product. Until that point all patents should be pending. Use it or lose it.
 

wrkactjob

macrumors 65816
Feb 29, 2008
1,357
0
London
I rather hope this will not enable the authorities prevent me from getting away from a bank robbery in a Fast and Furious stylee.
 

Klae17

macrumors 65816
Jul 15, 2011
1,086
1,207
Siri start my car. No, not take me to the bar!
Siri play acdc. No, not turn on AC!
 

cmChimera

macrumors 68040
Feb 12, 2010
3,930
2,764
I really fail to get excited by all these Apple patents as so few of them ever see the light of day. I don't think anyone should ever be granted a patent until they have actually proved the concept works by actually building and releasing the product. Until that point all patents should be pending. Use it or lose it.
Concepts aren't patentable. A patent application essentially is an instruction manual on how to invent what they invented. If they had to release it first, then a competitor could invent the same thing and sell it too.
 

69650

Suspended
Mar 23, 2006
3,367
1,878
England
Concepts aren't patentable. A patent application essentially is an instruction manual on how to invent what they invented. If they had to release it first, then a competitor could invent the same thing and sell it too.
I could invent a flying car with lots of clever diagrams. Doesn't mean it would actually work. You already get a period of time under which your patent application remains secret. So you could use that time to prototype and build the said product or invention before the patent is made public. That would at least stop companies lodging patents for inventions they have no intention of ever using just to stop others from getting there first. Seems a crazy system. If Apple doesn't want to use a patent to make the product then let someone else have it so they can make the product instead. The current system stifles innovation.
 

techwhiz

macrumors 6502a
Feb 22, 2010
994
1,252
Northern Ca.
Concepts aren't patentable. A patent application essentially is an instruction manual on how to invent what they invented. If they had to release it first, then a competitor could invent the same thing and sell it too.
Sorry but a lot of these applications are exactly what the previous person said, concept with no idea how to build it.

The current application is nothing more than an extension to "Comfort Access" which allows keyless entry.

Instead of a key transmitter, we use a phone.
Now on the phone we run an app that control smart peripherals, radio, heater/air, remote start etc.

The only real innovation is they want to run an app.
All the other features have been implemented in one form or another.

How they do it with unique hardware is a patent.
The "idea" to do it should not get a patent.

The patent system was for "real" inventions, not proposed inventions.
The idea of you can't patent it unless it can be built, is what it was founded on. It was based on filing a patent on an "invention".

100 year ago, if you didn't have a working prototype in some form, no patent.

This is why you cannot patent a "perpetual motion machine", etc.
 

dusk007

macrumors 68040
Dec 5, 2009
3,386
61
Stuff like this already exists. Apple will never get that patented. Not even using the Smartphone for this is new. Various car manufactures have wet their toes at least a little by tying gadgets and cars together. I think for some japanese or korean car you can even get a watch or some sort.

Just as a concept it isn't anything new at all. Sure doing it with iOS is possible but that won't be cause for a patent. If they develop a specific encryption, that can be used by a smartphone to securely unlock a car, they can patent it but never this general concept.

I don't get why macrumors even finds that noteworthy.
 

Nevaborn

macrumors 65816
Aug 30, 2013
1,078
312
Best pattern in ages. This will require extensive intergrationto vehicles.

This will allow potentially through the first signal tracking of a vehicle , maybe remote shut down and locking when the vehicle next stops moving, or manually send the ability to track the car to the police through a random code generator thus stopping undesired snooping.

The heater bit I like haha.

This would make me get a new car.
 

mingoglia

macrumors 6502
Dec 10, 2009
447
8
So my Prius "sees" my key fob and turns on the interior lights when I approach. The moment I touch the door handle, the doors unlock. I'm sure many other cars do this as well. Is what Apple's patenting actually patentable?
 

joejoejoe

macrumors 65816
Sep 13, 2006
1,424
99
Makes sense. The wallet began the process of being integrated into your smartphone for years. So have your home keys. Car keys are the next step.

And to all those worried abut safety, every manufacturer has a keyless entry option, and touch ID can alleviate a lot of worry here too.
 

9000

macrumors 6502a
Sep 29, 2013
519
0
Hyrule
So my Prius "sees" my key fob and turns on the interior lights when I approach. The moment I touch the door handle, the doors unlock. I'm sure many other cars do this as well. Is what Apple's patenting actually patentable?
That's different.

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Makes sense. The wallet began the process of being integrated into your smartphone for years. So have your home keys. Car keys are the next step.

And to all those worried abut safety, every manufacturer has a keyless entry option, and touch ID can alleviate a lot of worry here too.
So you have to give someone your iPhone if you want him to have your keys?

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"The first hints of iOS in the Car have been bundled into the new 2014 Honda Civic, allowing users to access HondaLink apps for iOS to connect to an iPhone 5 or later. Apple's ultimate goal for iOS in the Car is far more advanced, however, with iOS built-in to in-dash systems."

Honda's iOS in the Car sounds rather useless. All these apps aren't going to make anyone's life easier. It would be great to be able to have a Siri button on the car and have the iPhone control certain dash features.

But an iPhone-controlled heating and A/C system? iPhones acting as keys? Why, just why?
 

petsounds

macrumors 65816
Jun 30, 2007
1,483
497
Though I think this patent is too broad, I'm glad that Apple is starting to think about geofencing in larger ways than alarm notifications. I've long wanted an option to have iOS disable my phone's screen lock when at home.
 

chrisbru

macrumors 6502a
May 8, 2008
768
146
Austin, TX
This. Would. Be. Awesome.

I know some cars come with this feature, but it would be awesome to do it with just my iPhone and an inexpensive aftermarket install on my current vehicle.

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So you have to give someone your iPhone if you want him to have your keys?
You're not really this dense right? Clearly the keys would still work as they normally do. This would just allow you to not have to use your key in the door or physically press the button on your fob.

"The first hints of iOS in the Car have been bundled into the new 2014 Honda Civic, allowing users to access HondaLink apps for iOS to connect to an iPhone 5 or later. Apple's ultimate goal for iOS in the Car is far more advanced, however, with iOS built-in to in-dash systems."

Honda's iOS in the Car sounds rather useless. All these apps aren't going to make anyone's life easier. It would be great to be able to have a Siri button on the car and have the iPhone control certain dash features.

But an iPhone-controlled heating and A/C system? iPhones acting as keys? Why, just why?
Apps would be very useful. Like, for example, Maps being pushed to your in-dash screen, or showing on the screen who is calling, etc.

Think about this:
*Time to leave office. Open car app, push start car, turn on heat.
*Grab all my stuff, full hands. Walk up to car, iPhone unlocks the car when I get close, so I just need to pop open the door rather than dig in my pocket to find my key fob and press the button to unlock.
 
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