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Apple Granted 53 Patents Today Covering Turn-by-Turn Navigation & Apple Watch Activity UI

Apple Granted a Patent for an Accurate 3D Navigation System that Assists Users in Urban Canyons

10.6 Granted Patent Singular -
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Today the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office published one of Apple's granted patents for an invention involving a sophisticated 3D mapping and positioning technology. In urban environments where tall buildings surround a mobile device, the signals that the mobile device detects from various satellites might not be direct line-of-sight signals. In such an environment, at least some of the signals that the mobile device detects might actually be signals that have reflected off of building surfaces. This reflection can distort the mobile device's estimation of each satellite's distance from the mobile device. As a result, the mobile device might estimate its geographical coordinates with less accuracy than if the detected signals had not been reflected in this manner. Apple's invention provides a solution to this problem.


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Apple's patent FIG. 1 noted above is a diagram that illustrates a mobile device in an urban environment where some direct line-of-sight signals from some satellites may be obstructed by buildings or other objects.


According to techniques described in Apple's granted patent, a mobile device adjusts the extents to which it depends on various satellites to estimate its global position based on the predicted probability for each such satellite that a ray extending from that satellite to the mobile device is obstructed by a building. The mobile device can predict the probabilities of building obstructions based on a digital three-dimensional (3D) model of the environment in which the mobile device is estimated to be. The mobile device weights the extent of uncertainty for each satellite's pseudorange measurements based on the predicted probability of obstruction for that satellite. Using these weighted uncertainties, the mobile device selects the extents to which it relies on each satellite's global positioning data when estimating the mobile device's current global position.


For more on this invention, see our original patent application report here. Apple's granted patent 9,408,175 was filed for in Q3 2014.


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