Last week Fast Company posted an article titled "Eddy Cue and Craig Federighi open up about Learning from Apple's Failures." While one of the topics at the top of the list of failures for Apple was no doubt their Maps App debacle, Cue and Federighi also took the chance to talk up the great work their engineering teams are doing to advance Maps and make it a real market contender against Google maps. Keeping Maps relevant and dynamic so that they could warn a user of a road closer in realtime is an expensive endeavor and Apple has a huge team pushing the maps envelope. Today, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially published three specific granted patents for Apple regarding 3D maps to help you better appreciate the tremendous work they're doing for maps to assist iPhone users.
Maps Granted Patent #1: Geospatial Representation of Data-Less Map Areas
Apple's newly granted patent covers their invention relating to their Maps App. The invention covers a novel method for rendering views of a three-dimensional (3D) map. In some embodiments, when rendering a view of the 3D map, the method identifies a portion of the 3D map to use for rendering the view. For the identified portion of the 3D map, the method of some embodiments identifies (1) a set of sections of the 3D map for which data is unavailable (also referred to as data-less sections) and (2) a set of sections of the map view for which data is available. Based on sections for which data is available, the method generates for the data-less sections filler sections that include geospatial information. In some embodiments, the method fills the data-less sections with the corresponding filler section. The method of some embodiments then renders the view of the 3D map.
Apple's patent FIG. 1 shown above conceptually illustrates a mapping application of some embodiments that generates geospatial map tiles for unavailable map tiles.
Apple's granted patent was originally filed in Q and published today by the US Patent and Trademark Office. For more on this invention, review granted patent 9,418,466 here.
Maps Granted Patent #2: Methods and Apparatus for Building a 3D Model from Multiple Data Sets
Apple's second granted patent relating to their Maps Apple today covers methods and apparatus for a map tool displaying a three-dimensional view of a map based on a three-dimensional model of the surrounding environment. The three-dimensional map view of a map may be based on a model constructed from multiple data sets, where the multiple data sets include mapping information for an overlapping area of the map displayed in the map view.
For example, one data set may include two-dimensional data including object footprints, where the object footprints may be extruded into a three-dimensional object based on data from a data set composed of three-dimensional data. In this example, the three-dimensional data may include height information that corresponds to the two-dimensional object, where the height may be obtained by correlating the location of the two-dimensional object within the three-dimensional data. For more details regarding granted patent 9,418,478 click here.
Maps Granted Patent #3: Adjusting Heights for Road Path Indicators
Apple's granted patent covers their invention that provides a novel mapping application that includes a hybrid-viewing mode for viewing a three-dimensional (3D) map.
In some embodiments, when the mapping application is in the hybrid-viewing mode, the mapping application renders map views of the 3D map using camera-captured images (CCIs) and map labels. The map labels of some embodiments includes road indicators, road labels, road direction indicators, points of interest (POI) indicators, POI labels, city labels, city indicators, state labels, continent labels, body of water labels, etc.
The mapping application of some embodiments renders map labels differently based on different views of the 3D map. For instance, in some embodiments, the mapping application renders road indicators (also referred to as road ribbons or road path indicators) differently based on different perspectives of the 3D map. When rendering road indicators in a map view of the 3D map, the mapping application of some embodiments adjusts the positions of the polygons in the 3D map that represent the road indicators based on the perspective of the map view, before rendering the map view.
In some embodiments, the mapping application renders different map labels based on different views of the 3D map. For example, the mapping application of some embodiments renders different map labels based on different distances (e.g., zoom levels) from the 3D map. In some embodiments, the mapping application renders road indicators for streets when rendering map views of the 3D map at close distances (e.g., high zoom levels), renders road indicators for highways when rendering map views of the 3D map at medium distances (e.g., medium zoom levels), and does not render any road indicators when rendering map views of the 3D map at far distances (e.g., low zoom levels).
Apple further notes that when the mapping application is in a satellite-viewing mode, the mapping application of some embodiments renders map views using CCIs. In some embodiments, CCIs are images of the real world captured by real cameras operated by humans and/or machines (as opposed to a virtual camera that is used for rendering views of a 3D model). CCIs include images captured by real cameras on satellites, fly-by captured images (e.g., images captured by real cameras on airplanes, space shuttles, helicopters, balloons, and/or any other device used for aerial photography), drive-by captured images (e.g., images captured by real cameras on cars, trucks, motorcycles, buses, bicycles, trains, and/or any other type of vehicle that operates on land), etc. CCIs are referred to as real world captured images in some embodiments. The mapping application of some embodiments renders satellite map views by texture mapping CCIs to the map, map elements, and/or map constructs in the 3D map.
Apple filed their patent application back in Q2 2013. For more on granted patent 9,418,485, click here.
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