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Apple investigating location-based emergency app for iPhone

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
Apple has shown continued interest in offering easy access to local emergency services when traveling through the iPhone.

Patent


The concept is detailed in a patent continuation published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and discovered by AppleInsider on Thursday. Entitled "Location-Based Emergency Information," the proposed invention is credited in part to Scott Forstall, Apple's former chief of iOS who was chased from the company late last year.

"When a person travels abroad, emergencies can occur," the filing states. "For example, the person can become injured in an accident, be a victim of a crime, or lose their travel documents. In those situations, having knowledge of contact information for local emergency services or the pertinent consular services can be beneficial."

Apple notes that the process of gathering local emergency service information before traveling can be time consuming, particularly if a person plans to stop in multiple cities or countries. It's also likely that a traveler would neglect to gather this information entirely, potentially placing them in a bad situation.

To resolve this issue, Apple's concept includes an "Emergency" Application for iOS that would give users quick access to local medical, police or fire assistance, based on the current location of their iPhone.

The information could allow users to quickly contact emergency authorities in foreign countries, where users may not know the proper emergency number. Or in the U.S., it might provide direct numbers for non-emergency calls to authorities, preventing unnecessary calls to 9-1-1.

In one illustration, the iPhone app is shown with a unique application "drawer" that Apple said could slide out when selected. This would allow users to then tap on which emergency response service they wish to contact.

In addition to Forstall, the application is also credited to inventors Gregory N. Christie, Robert E. Borchers, and Imran A. Chaudhri. The continuation filing, made in September of 2012, stems from a patent originally filed in June 2007, around the time that the first-generation iPhone went on sale in the U.S.
post #2 of 13
Turning every iPhone into a life alert. Now everyone can feel good about buying their grandparents iPhones.
post #3 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by blackbook View Post

Turning every iPhone into a life alert. Now everyone can feel good about buying their grandparents iPhones.
My grandmother wouldn't be able to understand any feature beyond making a call, and answering a call if you are lucky
post #4 of 13
Originally Posted by ifij775 View Post
My grandmother wouldn't be able to understand any feature beyond making a call, and answering a call if you are lucky

 

The former is harder than the latter.

Originally posted by Relic

...those little naked weirdos are going to get me investigated.
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Originally posted by Relic

...those little naked weirdos are going to get me investigated.
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post #5 of 13
Reaching the cops or fire trucks isn't that big a deal. They're building that into the specs for all next-generation cell phones. One number will get you to them wherever you arm and even if you don't have a local cell plan.

Of far more importance in many countries is finding a doctor, dentist, car mechanic, or lawyer that you can trust. That's a far more complex issue. The better, meaning more expensive, hotels know how to manage that for their guests. But what if you're on the move, staying at a more modest place, or on a tight budget?

I once had serious car trouble while traveling (a wheel bearing went out), and stopped at the first service station I came across. Fortunately, I was so broke, I called up a local church for help. They not only provided me with a place to stay for the night, the pastor was a former car mechanic and knew that the service station I'd stumbled upon had been declared "off limits" by a nearby army base for fraudulent dealings. He found me a repair show I could trust.

Local knowledge like that is the key. But translating that local knowledge into an app won't be easy.
post #6 of 13

I haven't looked at the patent yet, so no telling what it is really about.  But from the title...

 

Don't most GPSes have an Emergency button that shows the nearest police etc?

 

Heck, I bet if we look, we can find a travel application that also already does this.

 

--

 

Ah, okay, now I've read the patent.

 

The emergency app does the following:

 

1)  Checks with a server for the nearest emergency services and calls them.

2)  Simultaneously looks at your preset ICE contact info and sends a voice msg or text or email to them.

 

--

 

Man, I hate most software patents.  Many are gotten simply because no one else would think to try for something so obvious.


Edited by KDarling - 1/10/13 at 10:08am
post #7 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by KDarling View Post

This is why software patents are evil.

 

Don't most GPSes have an Emergency button that shows the nearest police etc?

 

Heck, I bet if we look, we can find a travel application that also already does this.

Yes, most highway use standalone PND's can give you contact information and directions to the nearest police, fire dept or hospital within a screen tap or two. They've done so for years. But Apple's would be unique and innovative wouldn't it? It would use a smartphone to do that.

/s

 

EDIT: I'm almost certain I had a family locator app a couple years back that would find the nearest emergency services to your current location.

melior diabolus quem scies
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melior diabolus quem scies
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post #8 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by KDarling View Post

I haven't looked at the patent yet, so no telling what it is really about.  But from the title...

Don't most GPSes have an Emergency button that shows the nearest police etc?
Not many of them, at least not the ones that I've seen. However to be honest I haven't looked at such a device since I got my 3G all those years ago. Even then my care factor for GPS wasn't all that great.
Quote:

Heck, I bet if we look, we can find a travel application that also already does this.

--

Ah, okay, now I've read the patent.

The emergency app does the following:

1)  Checks with a server for the nearest emergency services and calls them.
2)  Simultaneously looks at your preset ICE contact info and sends a voice msg or text or email to them.

--

Man, I hate most software patents.  Many are gotten simply because no one else would think to try for something so obvious.

If no one tried before then it isn't obvious is it? The lack of trying is a poor measure of the acceptability of a patent. In fact it can be seen as an excuse for one failing to invent themselves. While I don't totally agree with the concept of software patents, I do believe that unique ideas expressed in software deserve patents. The thing is this, much of today's hardware is first expressed in software, so it should be pretty clear that one can invent with software. The sticky point becomes determining what is obvious. This sticky is a lot harder to deal with, but right now as a company you have no option other than to patent anything you can and keep records of what gets rejected.
post #9 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post


Not many of them, at least not the ones that I've seen. 

Just a few million of them. . . and since 2007!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O3bUqUH1HHE


Edited by Gatorguy - 1/10/13 at 11:28am
melior diabolus quem scies
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post #10 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

Not many of them, at least not the ones that I've seen. However to be honest I haven't looked at such a device since I got my 3G all those years ago. Even then my care factor for GPS wasn't all that great.

 

I checked, and yes all the Garmins (and I'm sure most others) have a Find Nearby Hospital, Police or Fuel button.   Along with a Where Am I button in case someone asks where you are.

 

If no one tried before then it isn't obvious is it? 

 

Doesn't matter if anyone tried it.  If it's an obvious step to someone in that field, it's not supposed to be patentable.   The field in this case would be someone who creates ICE apps for phones.  

 

And sure enough, I see that there are apps out there that already do something very similar.    For example, this Android app says that "...with only one click on your screen, send SMS alerts to all your saved contacts and call rescue workers immediately ...."

 

The only big difference with this patent is that the app contacts a server to find the closest  help, but wouldn't a Google search or Yellow Pages lookup do the same?    That's not a non-obvious step. 

 

Mind you, I see what you're saying.   The trouble with even having software patents is that companies have to file for idiotic stuff like this, just to protect themselves from somebody else filing the same thing.   The solution is:  don't allow stuff like this in at all !

post #11 of 13
They shouldn't call it 911 or any other number, it is dangerous. Teaching people in countries where the emergency number is not 911 ( everywhere) will eventually lead to someone calling that number in ignorance.
post #12 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by KDarling View Post

 

I checked, and yes all the Garmins (and I'm sure most others) have a Find Nearby Hospital, Police or Fuel button.   Along with a Where Am I button in case someone asks where you are.

 

 

Doesn't matter if anyone tried it.  If it's an obvious step to someone in that field, it's not supposed to be patentable.   The field in this case would be someone who creates ICE apps for phones.  

 

And sure enough, I see that there are apps out there that already do something very similar.    For example, this Android app says that "...with only one click on your screen, send SMS alerts to all your saved contacts and call rescue workers immediately ...."

 

The only big difference with this patent is that the app contacts a server to find the closest  help, but wouldn't a Google search or Yellow Pages lookup do the same?    That's not a non-obvious step. 

 

Mind you, I see what you're saying.   The trouble with even having software patents is that companies have to file for idiotic stuff like this, just to protect themselves from somebody else filing the same thing.   The solution is:  don't allow stuff like this in at all !

How much are you paid for these 'quite obvious' comments in this forum? Do you get paid extra for detouring around significant bits which are not supported in your collection of knowledge/expertise? Especially when you look at an item with the "Immense Glare of Incomprehension"? 

… FYI, you missed several things in the discovery of great significance you cite above.

 

Cheers

post #13 of 13
They could put it on there emergency call button instead of a keypad (when availible) a list of emergency numbers
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