Apple's iOS Car Keys Patent was published by the U.S. Patent Office today covering locks, ignition and issues
At last year's WWDC 2020 Apple introduced Keyless entry into a BMW 5 Series vehicle, the first car to have this feature. The feature is designed to unlock/lock a vehicle as well as start a vehicle. Below is a video segment from Apple's WWDC 2020.
Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that relates to this vehicle system, and, more particularly, to interactions between vehicle remote keyless systems and wireless power systems in detail that includes dealing with the issue of possibly degrading the remote keyless system's performance.
Apple notes that vehicles are sometimes provided with remote keyless systems. Remote keyless systems allow users with electronic keys operating at wireless communications frequencies to wirelessly control vehicle door locks and vehicle ignition functions.
Challenges may arise when using remote keyless systems in the presence of other wireless equipment. If care is not taken, for example, a wireless power system that is operated in the vicinity of a remote keyless system may degrade remote keyless system performance.
An electronic device such as an iPhone has wireless power receiving circuitry. During wireless power transfer operations, wireless power signals are transmitted from wireless power transmitter circuitry to the wireless power receiving circuitry to charge a battery in the electronic device.
A vehicle has a vehicle remote keyless system that transmits vehicle remote keyless system beacons. A key receives the beacons and responds with key codes to unlock doors and enable a vehicle ignition in the vehicle. The wireless power transmitter circuitry may be located in the vicinity of the vehicle. During wireless power transfer operations, there is a risk that wireless power signals from the wireless power transmitter circuitry could interfere with the reception of the vehicle keyless system beacons by the key.
To ensure that beacons are satisfactorily received, conditions in which there is a risk of interference are detected and corresponding interference mitigation operations are performed.
Interference risk detection involves detection of vehicle remote keyless system beacons, detection of key codes transmitted by the key in response to received beacons, monitoring of vehicle location and comparisons of measured device locations to stored vehicle location information, monitoring of whether the electronic device has paired wirelessly with the vehicle, using an inertial measurement unit or other input-output device to determine whether the electronic device is experiencing motion representative of vehicular travel, and/or other operations to determine when a risk of interference is present.
Interference mitigation operations are used to ensure that the vehicle remote keyless system can be used to operate the vehicle. Interference mitigation operations include prompting a user to disable wireless power transfer operations or automatically inhibiting wireless power transfer operations, adjusting the waveform of transmitted wireless power signals, adjusting the frequency of transmitted wireless power signals (e.g., to a frequency that is at least not the same as the wireless beacon frequency), and other operations that allow the key to receive transmitted beacons and that may allow wireless power operations to take place simultaneously with vehicle remote keyless system operations.
Apple's patent FIG. 1 below is a schematic diagram of a wireless key system such as vehicle remote keyless system. Vehicle systems (#32) include door locks, ignition systems, and other devices that are controlled by processing circuitry (#26). For example, the key system (#28) may open door locks and enable a vehicle ignition in response to receiving key codes from the key (#44); FIG. 3 is a diagram of an illustrative system 8 that contains a vehicle remote keyless system and wireless power circuitry. System 8 of FIG. 3 includes vehicle 10A, key 10B, electronic device 10C, and electronic device 10D.
Apple's patent FIG. 4 below is a flow chart of illustrative operations involved in operating a system of the type shown in FIG. 3.
To dig deeper into the details of Apple's patent application (20210135507) titled "Wireless Charging Interference Mitigation," click here.
Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.