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Apple patent allows smartphones to swap location data with an 'accessory device'

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday issued Apple a patent for the two-way communication of location data between a portable media device or handset, and an "accessory device" that can remotely display the information on its screen.

Location Communication
Illustration of '677 patent with handset (left) sending gathered location data to accessory (right).
Source: USPTO


First filed for in 2009, Apple's U.S. Patent No. 8,386,677 for "Communicating location information between a portable device and an accessory" allows for any portable media device, including iPhones and iPads, to exchange GPS data with a separate accessory through wired or wireless protocols.

It should be noted that the property not only allows for iPhones or cellular enabled iPads to push location information to the accessory device, but can also provide for the accessory to feed iPad or iPod models not equipped with GPS receivers. Currently, Apple only builds in GPS capabilities to cellular iOS products.

Accessory GPS
Illustration of accessory as GPS receiver with external antenna.


There are two main embodiments for the '677 patent: one in which the handset containing a GPS module, data transport mechanism and controller sends location information to an accessory, and another that swaps device roles, with the accessory feeding the handset. In a third embodiment, both units have a GPS receiver, and are controlled by a system that defaults to whichever device has higher perceived accuracy.

In all cases, the unit receiving location data from its companion device can display the information in a number of ways, including parsing out points of interest or showing real-time GPS navigation assets.

While the implementation of a GPS-equipped accessory is straightforward ? some of the first systems were simple receivers without built-in screens ? the patent's language regarding the display of information on an accessory device is perhaps more intriguing given recent talk of a so-called "iWatch." There is no mention of wearable displays or bracelet-like gadgets in Tuesday's patent, but the technology described could find its way into such a peripheral.

Embodiments
Two patent embodiments with GPS receiver in PMD (left) and accessory device (right).


AppleInsider was first to report on an Apple patent application for what appears to be a multitouch capable watch, with the concept being very reliant on a smartphone or other computing device. Instead of running a full operating system, the described device would display information over wireless protocols, allowing users to interact with their iPhones while keeping the handset safely stowed in a pocket or purse.

The '677 patent credits Gregory T. Lydon, Ronald Keryuan Huang, Lawrence G. Bolton, Emily Clark Schubert and Jesse Lee Dorogusker as its inventors.
post #2 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

While the implementation of a GPS-equipped accessory is straightforward…the patent's language regarding the display of information on an accessory device is perhaps more intriguing given recent talk of a so-called "iWatch." There is no mention of wearable displays or bracelet-like gadgets in Tuesday's patent…

 

Of course there is no mention of an iWatch…yet! Methinks Apple is not quite ready to tip its hand on what a possible iWatch (or maybe something else?) can do.

 

I also had another thought, could this be used to bypass carrier restrictions on tethering an "accessory" (e.g. a MacBook or wi-fi only iPad) to an iPhone?

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post #3 of 17
From that article title plus a long history of following Apple's patents and releases it seems like we'll be getting wearable computers, in some fashion, this year.



edit: typos and uh-ohs.
Edited by SolipsismX - 2/26/13 at 9:40am

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post #4 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by waybacmac View Post

Of course there is no mention of an iWatch…yet! Methinks Apple is not quite ready to tip its hand on what a possible iWatch (or maybe something else?) can do.

I also had another thought, could this be used to bypass carrier restrictions on tethering an "accessory" (e.g. a MacBook or wi-fi only iPad) to an iPhone?

My guess is that Accessory I/O will likely be BLE or their own proprietary, secure, short-range, low energy solution. I don't particularly want it to be proprietary but it could have the benefit of making a solid accessories market with has made the iDevice market such a success (something you can't do if there are no regulations because the standard is open) and Apple might be able to make a more power efficient solution (which I think is highly important to the long term effort of wearable electronics).
Edited by SolipsismX - 2/26/13 at 4:42am

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post #5 of 17
Yes, the iWatch is coming this year.
post #6 of 17
Wow, external higher-accuracy GPS receivers paired with phones have been around for years. Wait, "call one PMD and one Accessory - and send that data over BT or Wifi!". BAM, patent!

Really?
post #7 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrstep View Post

Wow, external higher-accuracy GPS receivers paired with phones have been around for years. Wait, "call one PMD and one Accessory - and send that data over BT or Wifi!". BAM, patent!

Really?

That sounds familiar: Wow, a touchscreen paired with a phone have been around for years. would you not say had any invention in it?

Sounds like you didn't read the patent, only looked at the digram.

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"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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post #8 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

Sounds like you didn't read the patent, only looked at the digram.

 

It sounds like YOU didn't read the patent before bashing his post.   Here's the primary claim, which I'm going to format so you can more easily read it:

 

"1. An accessory for use with a portable media device, the accessory comprising: a controller; and an interface coupled to the controller and configured to communicate with the portable media device using a set of commands, the set of commands including:

 

  • a first command receivable by the accessory, the first command requesting location data from the accessory;
  • a second command sendable by the accessory, the second command including the location data from the accessory;
  • a third command receivable by the accessory, the third command requesting location capability information from the accessory; and
  • a fourth command sendable by the accessory, the fourth command including the location capability information from the accessory."

 

So, the patent claims the idea of accessory commands to request/send location capability and the location.  That could describe a GPS puck, among other things.  

 

The only unique part seems to be adding the conditional that it is to be used with a "portable media device".

post #9 of 17
It's getting annoying that people look at a summary of a patent filing or an image and then claim the exact same method has existed for years.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KDarling View Post

It sounds like YOU didn't read the patent before bashing his post.   Here's the primary claim, which I'm going to format so you can more easily read it:

"1. An accessory for use with a portable media device, the accessory comprising: a controller; and an interface coupled to the controller and configured to communicate with the portable media device using a set of commands, the set of commands including:

  • a first command receivable by the accessory, the first command requesting location data from the accessory;
  • a second command sendable by the accessory, the second command including the location data from the accessory;
  • a third command receivable by the accessory, the third command requesting location capability information from the accessory; and
  • a fourth command sendable by the accessory, the fourth command including the location capability information from the accessory."

So, the patent claims the idea of accessory commands to request/send location capability and the location.  That could describe a GPS puck, among other things.  

The only unique part seems to be adding the conditional that it is to be used with a "portable media device".


Again, read the fucking patent.

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"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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post #10 of 17

It thought several cars already did this????

post #11 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

That sounds familiar: Wow, a touchscreen paired with a phone have been around for years. would you not say had any invention in it?

Sounds like you didn't read the patent, only looked at the digram.

I think the point was that the technology already exists and is already in use around the world, and this is true. This would seem to be the exact mechanism that Apple already uses to send location information to tethered devices for example.

I use maps on my iPad all the time but it has no GPS in it of its own.
post #12 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gazoobee View Post

I think the point was that the technology already exists and is already in use around the world, and this is true. This would seem to be the exact mechanism that Apple already uses to send location information to tethered devices for example.

I use maps on my iPad all the time but it has no GPS in it of its own.

Since it was filed in 2009 it's certainly reasonable to think Apple has implemented this specific implemtanation but that is not the same as reading a summary or looking at a diagram then claiming this exact method has existed for years prior to its filing. That may actually happen in court of law where the patent gets invalidated but in no way have I seen — on any patent filing article on AI — any such argument that would reasonably show a patent to be invalid. It's simple impossible with a single sentence reply.

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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post #13 of 17
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post
From that article title plus a long history of following Apple's patents and releases it seems like we'll be eating wearable computers, in some fashion, this year.

 

Eating? Apple has food patents?

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post #14 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gazoobee View Post


I think the point was that the technology already exists and is already in use around the world, and this is true. This would seem to be the exact mechanism that Apple already uses to send location information to tethered devices for example.

I use maps on my iPad all the time but it has no GPS in it of its own.

Exactly. I actually tried to use map software on a non-GPS iPad which was tethered to my iPhone. The iPad did not get the accurate GPS location information from the iPhone as I was hoping, rendering the mapping software all but useless on the iPad. I'm going to guess that this feature will be implemented in the next version of iOS.

post #15 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by sranger View Post

It thought several cars already did this????


The patent was filed in 2009. 

post #16 of 17
Absolutely marvelous! I have two iPhones with GPS, so I'm less than happy than neither can share that location data with my non-cellular iPad, with its much larger screen and better audio for turn-by directions.

Let's hope these features come soon and work with older iDevices. One of Apple's primary competitive advantages, I tell friends, is their support for previous generation gear. My 3GS runs the latest iOS. Try finding that with someone's else's smartphone. Most go into the trash still running the operating system they shipped with.
post #17 of 17
Seems similar to find my device.
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