Evan Goldstein

About the Author Evan Goldstein

Evan Goldstein is a current student at Brandeis University majoring in Economics and History. He is the VP of Finance for TAMID Consulting at Brandeis.

Apple Inc. (AAPL) Awarded Patent for New Location Technology

Today, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) was granted a patent for allowing iOS sensors to switch seamlessly and naturally from one location system to another without user interaction, by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Apple’s U.S patent entails handheld electronics leveraging sensors, like location and communications, to collect data in determining movement and locale. In other words, Apple has created a system where location services are more reliable due to improved sensors and data interpretation. At best, an Apple device is able to provide perfect directions from a bus, in the woods, or in the house.

The technology works as follows; a device receives outdoor location data through GPS satellite signals. Unimpeded outdoor states are noted as venue-independent and mapping systems assist navigation and current location data.

When a device moves into a building where GPS is impeded, the system switches mechanisms to a venue-specific mode. These structures may have wireless access points with RF signals that will be packaged in a fingerprint location database.

A device may also detect a change in state through fluctuations in barometric pressure stemming from changes in elevation, specifically within a building. iPhones also have gyroscopes, hygrometers, microphones, accelerometers, and light sensors that assist in this process.

The brilliance of the patent, however, lies in the understanding that the switch from one mode to another will create a more accurate estimation of location. The stronger indoor RF signals will be more effective than the weak outdoor GPS signal.

Additionally, the ability to use the indoor RF signals gives the iPhone a venue map. The venue map acts as an indoor guide for mapping walls, rooms, hallways, and some furniture. This comes from the transition from a venue-independent state to a venue-specific state, making the device pull data from surrounding objects. In all, this allows accurate mapping and location services even within a building.

Apple’s iBeacon, a low energy Bluetooth identifier for each mobile device, would work quite smoothly into the new technology. Theoretically, iBeacons could oust wireless access points, implementing correct location data and detailed indoor mapping. Thus, Apple can use the patent with other technology to further improve location services.

Apple’s patent can pave the way for stronger app performance and for a greater appeal for the iPhone.

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