Earlier today Patently Apple posted a report titled "Prague Airport becomes the 15th European Airport to use Convenient Interior Terminal Maps using Apple Maps." In total 74 airports around the world are now using terminal maps based on Apple Maps. Coincidentally the US Patent & Trademark Office published one of Apple's patent applications last Thursday titled "Venue Routing Based on Map Feature Relationships."
Apple's filing defines venues as being airports, shopping malls, amphitheaters, arenas, parks, school campuses and more. The venues can be indoors (e.g., an indoor shopping mall) and outdoors (e.g., a park), or a combination thereof (e.g., a college campus with multiple buildings separated by outside space, etc.). The features, or map elements, can include rooms, stores, levels of a building, or any other type of space.
The relationship defined for a pair of map features can define how a user may move from an origin feature to a destination feature. When generating a route through a venue, a mapping application may route the user through several map features that have a variety of relationships. For example, the relationship can define a mechanism (e.g., intermediate map feature) through which a user can move from the origin feature to the destination feature.
Generally, a route through a venue will be a pedestrian (e.g., walking) route through the venue and may include pedestrian navigation of some pedestrian conveyance (e.g., elevator, moving walkway, escalator, etc.). Thus, a relationship may define, or constrain, how a pedestrian user may move through a venue, as described further below.
In some situations, a route through a venue may include vehicular travel using a bicycle, golf cart, scooter, car, bus, etc., such as on a path between buildings within a venue.
The relationship can define constraints on the user's movement from the origin feature to the destination feature. For example, the constraints can include a directional constraint. For example, the user can only move one-way from the origin feature to the destination feature, or two-way between origin and destination. The constraints can include temporal constraints.
For example, the user may only move from the origin feature to the destination feature between certain specified hours. The constraints can include security related constraints. For example, the user can only move from origin feature to destination feature if the user has the appropriate security clearance.
Apple's patent filing provides a complete overview of the mapping system including Example Processes; Graphical User Interfaces; Privacy Issues; and Example System Architecture.
Apple's patent FIG. 1 below is a block diagram of an example system for routing a user through a venue based on map feature relationships. For example, system 100 can be used to configure relationships between features (e.g., map elements) in venue map data and/or generate routes between a starting location and a destination location associated with a venue. The features, or map elements, can include rooms, stores, levels of a building, or any other type of space.
Apple's patent FIG. 10 above is flow diagram of an example process for venue routing based on map feature relationships.
It should be noted that one of the inventors of this patent is acknowledged as being Antti Saarinen. Apple acquired his company Indoor.io which was known internationally for their expertise in indoor mapping.
For more details, review Apple's patent application 20200011677 that was filed in July 2019 and published last Thursday by the U.S. Patent Office.