Back in 2014 Patently Apple posted a report titled "A Stunner: A New Patent Surfaces Listing Steve Jobs as the Primary Inventor of a Non-Apple Invention." I had stumbled upon the patent that was credited to Savant Systems at the time with Steve Jobs noted as the primary inventor. It was a patent about controlling a yacht with an iOS device like an iPhone or iPad. Today the patent finally ended up being granted as an Apple and Savant patent by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Apple's granted patent titled "Remote motion control using a wireless mobile device," generally relates to a general-purpose wireless mobile device having a touch-sensitive screen and executing a remote control application is used to remotely control a vehicle (e.g., a marine vessel, such as a yacht).
The general-purpose wireless mobile device communicates via a wireless network with an interface (e.g., a server) that is coupled to an electronic control system of the vehicle (e.g., the vessel). The electronic control system is coupled to, and receives information from, sensors that collect environmental information (e.g., wind speed, wind direction, water depth, etc.) and/or system status information (e.g., engine speed, transmission settings, etc.) for the vehicle (e.g., the vessel). The electronic control system is also coupled to, and provides control signals to, vehicle subsystems (e.g., marine subsystems, such as throttle controllers, transmission controllers, rudder actuators, etc.) that implement motion and other function control. In operation, environmental information and/or system status information is collected through the electronic control system, propagated to the interface (e.g., the server), and then sent over the wireless network to the wireless mobile device. Similarly, control input is sent over the wireless network to the interface (e.g., the server), which passes the information to the electronic control system, which in turn issues appropriate control signals to vehicle subsystems (e.g., marine subsystems) to control the motion of the vehicle (e.g., the vessel).
In one embodiment, the remote control application includes a packet delivery module, a network health monitor, and a user interface (UI) module. The packet delivery module is configured to exchanging packets with the interface to receive environmental information and/or system status information, and to pass thereto control input, when remote motion and other function control is engaged. The packet delivery module is further configured to implement an acknowledgment (ACK)/negative acknowledgment (NACK) mechanism, and to implement data collection functions to obtain packet data.
The network health monitor is configured to use the packet data obtained by the to calculate one or more performance metrics, determine therefrom a network health score, and based on the network health score, permit or disable remote motion and other function control. The UI module is configured to display environmental information and/or system status information for the vehicle (e.g., vessel) in a UI on the touch-sensitive screen, and to receive control input indicating desired motion and other function control via the UI, when such remote control is permitted and engaged. An interface element of the UI indicates when remote motion and other function control is engaged, and the wireless mobile device is has control responsibility, and when remote motion and other function control is disabled, and control responsibility is returned to a main control interface (e.g., a stationary main helm station) of the vehicle (e.g., the vessel).
Apple's Patent FIG. 1 noted below is a block diagram of an example architecture for remote motion and other function control.
Apple's patent FIG. 4 noted below is a screen shot of an example user interface (UI) that may be shown by a UI module on the touch-sensitive screen of the wireless mobile device.
Apple's granted patent 9,415,849 was filed in Q1 2014 and published today by the US Patent and Trademark Office. Background information says the original filing was made in 2013 or roughly two years after the passing of Steve Jobs.
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