At the top of the month Apple introduced CarPlay at the International Motor Show in Geneva. Today, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals a possible future advanced interactive vehicle manual. The patent titled "Identifying and Presenting Information based on Unique Vehicle Identifier," will in effect reinvent the in-vehicle owner's manual. It will be able to provide users with the exact part numbers needed for their vehicle and via GPS tell them what dealers or auto shops nearby carry them. The system could provide users with video instructions about problems occurring in the vehicle and may even use Siri to converse with the manual. While at the time of this patent filing Apple focused on the manual being run on portable devices like the iPhone and iPad, the patent hints of it being used in an auto's radio which will likely now translate into being accessible via CarPlay.
Apple's Patent Background
There are many situations where a user may want to know information about a vehicle. For example, if the user is operating an unfamiliar vehicle, the user may want to know the location and functionality of the vehicle's user controls, a recommended fuel or oil type for the vehicle, or other information. Vehicle manufacturers often issue user manuals containing such information. Reviewing a user manual, however, can be quite time consuming, and in some instances a user manual may not be present for the user to review.
A user may also want to know information about vehicle-specific replacement parts. A replacement part for one vehicle may not be compatible with another. Consequently, replacement parts are typically assigned a number or code by the part manufacturer. To ensure that the appropriate part is purchased, the user may need to know the vehicle-specific part number. Moreover, the user may want to know the location of a nearby merchant offering the vehicle-specific replacement part for sale. The user can locate a merchant that generally sells replacement parts, but the merchant may not offer the vehicle-specific replacement part for sale or may not have the required part in stock. Alternatively, the user can take the vehicle to a mechanic to make the repair, but this can be unnecessarily time consuming and costly.
Many vehicles currently incorporate sophisticated computer systems including interfaces that support various communication standards such as Bluetooth, WiFi, 4G, and the like. Moreover, portable electronic devices (e.g., smart phones, tablet computers, media players, and the like) also currently incorporate interfaces that support such communication standards.
Apple Invents Unique Vehicle Identifier Application
Apple's invention generally relates to communication between a portable electronic device and a vehicle and more particularly to using a portable electronic device to identify and present information based on a unique vehicle identifier.
According to various aspects of the present invention, a portable electronic device such as an iPhone can be used to present vehicle-specific information to a user.
The iPhone can include a vehicle interface configured to exchange messages with a vehicle, and a processor coupled to the vehicle interface.
Apple's iPhone will be able to receive a message from the vehicle, the message containing a unique vehicle identifier. In some embodiments, the unique vehicle identifier can be a vehicle identification number (VIN) or one or more hash values corresponding to the VIN.
Using the processor, the iPhone can identify content based at least in part on the unique vehicle identifier. The content can be stored in a memory of the portable electronic device and/or stored externally and retrieved by the portable electronic device via a network. The portable electronic device can further include a user interface coupled to the processor, and upon identification the content can be presented by the portable electronic device to a user via the user interface.
In some embodiments, the content can include a specification for the vehicle such as a fuel type, an oil type, an identifier of a replacement part, an identifier of a merchant offering the replacement part for sale, a user manual, a year, a make, a model, a color, a year, and/or other specification for the vehicle.
In some embodiments, the user interface on the iPhone can be configured to receive user input from the user, and the processor can be configured to identify the content based in part on the user input received from the user and in part on the unique vehicle identifier received from the vehicle.
For example, in some embodiments, the iPhone's user interface can include an audio interface configured to receive audio input from the user, and the processor of the portable electronic device can be configured to identify the content based in part on the audio input and in part on the unique vehicle identifier.
In some embodiments, the processor of the portable electronic device can be configured to generate audio output based on the identified content, and present the audio output to the user via the audio interface.
In some embodiments, the processor of the iPhone can be further configured to determine a geographic location and can identify the content based in part on the geographic location and in part on the unique vehicle identifier received from the vehicle. In some embodiments, the identification can be further based on input received from the user.
Apple's patent FIG. 1 illustrates system 100 which includes a portable electronic device 102, a vehicle 104, and an external data source 110 (such as iCloud).
Technically, the "Portable electronic device" can be, for example, a media player, a smart phone, a personal digital assistant, a tablet computer, a laptop computer, or any other electronic device that is portable (e.g., easily carried by a user from place to place) and capable of communicating with other devices.
The vehicle can be any suitable transportation machinery, such as an automobile, a truck, a bus, a tractor, a golf cart, a go-kart, a motorcycle, a scooter, a bicycle, a motorized bicycle, a boat, a watercraft (e.g., a jet-ski), an aircraft, a lawn mower, a snowmobile, a remote controlled device (e.g., a remote controlled car or airplane), or the like.
Apple notes that the portable electronic device can receive a message from the vehicle including a unique vehicle identifier for the vehicle. For example, the unique vehicle identifier can be a VIN or one or more hash values corresponding to the VIN. A VIN is typically a unique serial number used by various vehicle industries to identify individual vehicles. The VIN can be assigned at the time of manufacturing, and can be determined by any suitable standard such as FMVSS 115, ISO 3779, SAE J853, ADR 61/2, or the like.
Further, the VIN can include 17 alpha-numeric characters, for example, that correspond to various specifications for the vehicle such as the manufacturer, the model year, the manufacturing plant, and attributes of the vehicle such as make, model, color, and/or the like. In some embodiments, the unique vehicle identifier transmitted by the vehicle to the portable electronic device can be any data that corresponds to one or more specifications for the vehicle.
The App may require an Advanced Microphone
For some reason, Apple notes that in this system with the new vehicle app, new microphones may be required. Apple lists a great number of possible candidates such as a condenser microphone, an electret condenser microphone, a dynamic microphone, a ribbon microphone, a carbon microphone, a piezoelectric microphone, a fiber optic microphone, a laser microphone, a liquid microphone, a MEMS microphone, and/or the like. In embodiments of the present invention, the microphone can receive audio (e.g., voice) input from a user and transmit the voice input to the processor in the form of an electrical signal.
General and Optional Message Sets
According to Apple, in some embodiments, the messages can be logically grouped into a "general" message set and an "optional" message set. Every accessory and every portable electronic device that use the accessory protocol can be required to support at least the general message set.
This message set can include messages enabling the portable electronic device and the vehicle to identify and authenticate themselves to each other and to provide information about their respective capabilities, including which (if any) of the messages in the optional set each supports.
The general message set can include a message that the vehicle can send to the portable electronic device to list every message in the optional set that the vehicle is capable of sending and every message in the optional set that the vehicle is capable of receiving and acting on. The general message set can also include authentication messages that the portable electronic device can use to verify the purported identity and capabilities of the vehicle (or vice versa), and the vehicle (or the portable electronic device) may be blocked from invoking certain (or all) of the optional messages if the authentication is unsuccessful.
The optional message set can include messages related to various functionalities that might or might not be supported in a given accessory. For example, the optional message set can include simple remote messages that allow the vehicle to identify a function of the portable electronic device to be invoked, remote user interface messages that can be used to obtain information related to replicating all or part of a user interface of the portable electronic device on the vehicle (thereby supporting a more advanced remote control), messages that allow a user to control a radio tuner in the vehicle by operating the portable electronic device and/or to control a radio tuner in the portable electronic device by operating the vehicle, messages that facilitate the transfer of data objects between the portable electronic device and the vehicle (e.g., the transfer of a unique vehicle identifier from the vehicle to the portable electronic device), and so on. Technically, Apple may be able to use CarPlay in this scenario.
Apple further notes that the portable electronic device can present the identified content to the user via a user interface. For example, the portable electronic device can generate visual output based on the identified content, and present the visual output to the user via a display screen of the portable electronic device. In some embodiments, the visual output can include an image of the vehicle, a video of the vehicle, descriptions of various specifications for the vehicle, and other vehicle-specific content. The visual output may also include operating instructions for various vehicle features such as an audio/video interface, a global positioning system, seat adjustments, mirror adjustments, climate control, and/or the like.
In a way, Apple's new system could technically replace or compliment a vehicle's user manual.
Apple's patent FIG. 2 noted below is a simplified block diagram of a system including a portable electronic device and a vehicle.
Apple's patent FIG. 5 is a flow diagram of a process usable by a portable electronic device to identify content based on a unique vehicle identifier, user input, and a geographic location of the device.
Apple credits Shailesh Rathi and Robert Walsh as the inventors of patent application 20140077972 which was originally filed in Q3 2012.
A Note for Tech Sites covering our Report: We ask tech sites covering our report to kindly limit the use of our graphics to one image. Thanking you in advance for your cooperation.
Patently Apple presents a detailed summary of patent applications with associated graphics for journalistic news purposes as each such patent application is revealed by the U.S. Patent & Trade Office. Readers are cautioned that the full text of any patent application should be read in its entirety for full and accurate details. Revelations found in patent applications shouldn't be interpreted as rumor or fast-tracked according to rumor timetables. About Making Comments on our Site: Patently Apple reserves the right to post, dismiss or edit any comments.
New on Patent Bolt this Week