The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 52 newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today. In this particular report we briefly cover two Project Titan patents regarding Apple's work on autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicles such as Car Keys and finding misplaced devices in a vehicle. The other patent covers a major HomeKit patent aimed at allowing users to control smart home devices in groups. And as always, we wrap up this week's granted patent report with our traditional listing of the remaining granted patents that were issued to Apple today.
Locating Misplaced Devices in a Vehicle
Apple's Find My team has just delivered AirTags to assist users find items that they deem important. Apple's first Project Titan patent in this report covers systems and methods for determining the location of misplaced devices inside a vehicle.
Apple notes that different types of signals may be used with embodiments of the device location system. In some embodiments, electromagnetic or radio signals may be used. For example, a signal generator may emit a pulse of infrared (IR) radiation. The pulse may be detected by an IR sensor. Wireless communication transceivers, such as Wifi or Bluetooth transceivers, are capable of generating and receiving wireless signals in the frequency band assigned according to their communication protocol. These transceivers are also capable of detecting the strength of a signal in their assigned band. Audio signals may also be used. In that case, the signal generator may be a speaker that generates a chirp, and the signal sensor may be a microphone that can detect the chirp.
Embodiments of the device location system may use a plurality of types of signal generators and sensors in combination. In some embodiments, the system may choose the type of signal to use based on the current conditions of the vehicle or certain preset policy. For example, under certain lighting conditions, an IR signal may be difficult to detect and an audio signal may be preferable. In other embodiments, multiple signal types may be used to assist in or confirm a location determination. For example, the vehicle's onboard computer may rely on only Wifi signals to determine an approximate location of a device by default, but turn on other forms of location sensing signals when more precision is needed.
Apple's patent FIG. 7 below FIG. 7 illustrates a vehicle interior that includes a device location system using signal sensors and/or generators to determine a device location.
Apple's patent FIG. 12 above illustrates a vehicle that includes a device location system using IMUs. In operation, the vehicle's onboard computer may receive vibration data measured by the device IMUs. The onboard computer may attempt to match device's measured vibration with other vibrations in the vehicle's cabin, in order to locate the devices.
To dive deeper into the details of granted patent 11,006,257, click here.
Car Keys Related Patent
Last Thursday Patently Apple posted a patent application report titled "Apple's iOS Car Keys Patent was published by the U.S. Patent Office today covering locks, ignition and issues." Today, Apple was granted a patent for Car Keys titled "Active near-field communication device facilitation of low power card detection."
In the example of patent FIG. 1 below, the electronic device #106 is a keyless access device configured for NFC communication. The keyless access device may be a powered device (e.g., battery powered) coupled to a physical lock (e.g., for access to a car, bicycle, house, and the like), and configured to lock and/or unlock the physical lock upon detection of a passive tag (e.g., a key fob or an emulated key fob).
Apple's patent FIG. 3 above illustrates an example timing diagram corresponding to transmitting a confirmation pulse signal to determine whether the detected change in measurement parameters should be attributed to the presence of an NFC device when the NFC device is present.
To dig deeper into the details of granted patent 11,005,533, click here.
Controlling Smart Home Devices in Groups
Apple's granted patent notes that Home automation is becoming more and more popular. Starting with home clothes and dish washing machines years ago to the smart (e.g., computerized) fixtures, appliances, and accessories we have today, more and more people are automating their homes. With the increasing availability of smart accessories and appliances comes more ways to control these smart devices. For example, a software application on a user's mobile device can be configured to control individual accessories, appliances, and/or fixtures in the user's home or office. However, as accessories get smarter, they also provide a more varied feature set which makes controlling these devices more and more complicated for the user.
Apple's granted patent covers a computing device which can automatically generate a service group. For example, accessories can be automatically grouped together into a service group based on various criteria (such as historical usage patterns). The accessories in the service group can be managed and/or controlled as if the accessories were a single accessory or entity.
In some implementations, a computing device can intelligently select service group controls for presentation to the user so that the user can control the service group. For example, the computing device can select which service group controls to present and the order in which to present the controls based on features that are common among different accessories in the service group.
Apple's patent FIG. 6 below illustrates an example graphical user interface for adding an accessory, creating a new service group, and/or creating a new scene; and FIG. 7 illustrates an example graphical user interface for defining a new service group; FIGS. 10 and 11 illustrates example graphical user interfaces for presenting service group controls. In this case, control a series of lighting devices at home. The examples in the patent go on to include controlling a series of devices related to audio, security and more.
To dive deeper into the details and dozens of patent figures, review granted patent 11,003,147, here.
The Remaining Patents Granted to Apple Today