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Patent Fulfilled: Apple's new iOS 8 Location-Based Passbook

On December 11, 2014 the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals the next generation feature for Passbook that was released with iOS 8; the feature that automatically displays a virtual ticket, coupon, and gift card as you near the related venue.


Apple's New Location-Based Passbook Features


Apple's invention generally relates to providing location-based services on a mobile computing device using beacons via as in a Bluetooth Low Energy (BTLE) beacon. This new feature debuted with iOS 8. The service automatically works with Apple's Passbook App which the patent filing refers to as a "ticket book." Anywhere you read ticket book, it means Apple's Passbook.


A mobile device can be programmed to present a virtual ticket to a service provider based on a location of the mobile device. The mobile device can receive a virtual ticket for accessing a service from a service provider. The virtual ticket can be associated with a signal source. The signal source can be pre-programmed to broadcast a beacon signal that includes an identifier identifying the signal source. The signal source can be placed at a venue where the service is available.


The mobile device, upon arriving at the venue, can detect the beacon signal from the signal source. In response, the mobile device can activate a ticket manager. The ticket manager can automatically select, from a ticket book (Passbook), the virtual ticket associated with the signal source. The mobile device can present content of the selected virtual ticket at the venue, where the service is available.


The features described in this specification can be implemented to achieve one or more advantages. For example, compared to a conventional mobile device, a mobile device implementing location-based ticket book services can be more user friendly. A user presenting virtual passes, store cards, or coupons can do so more easily.


A location-based ticket book can automatically present a virtual ticket that is relevant to a current location, instead of requiring the user to make a selection.


For example, if the user has a virtual store card at a coffee shop, when the user walks into the coffee shop, the user can unlock a mobile device screen. Based on the location of the mobile device, the mobile device can provide a barcode of the virtual store card for display to a barcode scanner of the coffee shop to use the virtual store card. The user need not search through multiple tickets to find the virtual store card for the coffee shop.


In addition, the features described in this specification can allow service providers to provide services that are both standardized and individualized. For example, if multiple coffee shops are in a franchised coffee shop chain, and the franchised coffee shop chain wishes to have a standardized promotion across the chain, the franchised coffee shop chain can provide a pre-configured wireless beacon to each franchised shop. Each pre-configured wireless beacon can broadcast a same signal source identifier. A mobile device can then display a virtual ticket to access the same promotion in each of the coffee shops. In addition, if the franchised coffee shop chain wishes to have an individualized promotion (e.g., an experimental promotion in a pilot program) in one or more franchised shops, the franchised coffee shop chain can distribute wireless beacons having another signal source identifier to the one or more shops. The mobile device, upon entering these shops, can display tickets for accessing the individualized promotion.


Apple's patent FIG. 1 is a diagram illustrating an exemplary location-based ticket book service.



More specifically Apple's patent FIG. 1 is a diagram illustrating an exemplary location-based ticket book service. The mobile device can be a computing device programmed to present virtual pass upon entering a venue #106. The virtual pass #104 can be a pass for accessing a service. The pass can be a text message, an image, or a one-dimensional or two-dimensional barcode readable by a barcode scanner.


Some examples of the virtual pass are airline or movie tickets, store cards, discount coupons, gift cards, employee passes, gymnasium access passes, or library cards.


Stationary or Mobile Locations

Apple notes that "the venue" can either be a stationary location (e.g., a shop in a building) or a mobile location (e.g., a food truck, cruise ship, or airplane) where the service is available.


The venue can be represented by virtual fence #108, which is defined by a signal source #110. A virtual fence can be a conventional geofence or a proximity fence. The proximity fence can be a location-agnostic fence defined by signal source having no geographic location information (e.g., no point location fixed to latitude and longitude coordinates). The signal source can be a radio frequency (RF) signal transmitter broadcasting a beacon signal.



In Apple's patent FIG. 2 noted above we're able to see a diagram illustrating interactions between a service provider and exemplary mobile device using a location-based ticket book. The mobile device can access a service provider through communications network #202. The service provider can be an entity providing a service (e.g., an exhibition event or a free lunch) that is accessible by location-based virtual tickets, e.g., tickets for the exhibition or a lunch coupon.


The mobile device can send request #204 to the service provider through communications network. The request can include a payment for a ticket. Ticket server #206 of the service provider, upon receiving the request can issue virtual a ticket #208.


Apple notes that signal sources 210 and 212 can be Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) 802.11u compliant Wi-Fi access points. In some implementations, signal sources 210 and 212 can be Bluetooth low energy (BTLE) or near field communication (NFC) beacons.


Apple's patent FIG. 4 noted below is a block diagram illustrating components of an exemplary location-based ticket book subsystem of a mobile device.



Patent Credits


Apple credits Eliza Block, George Dicker and Glen Steele as the inventors of patent application 20140364148 which was originally filed in Q2 2013. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.


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