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Apple concept would warn iPhone users ahead of dropped calls

post #1 of 27
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A pair of Apple patent filings discovered by AppleInsider this week show the company is exploring ways to leverage the iPhone's wireless technologies to alert users when they are about to lose a WiFi or cellular signal, and also help them find tiny accessories that may have been misplaced.

The first filing describes methods of providing iPhone or iPod touch users with an "out of range" warning that includes an estimate of the amount of time remaining until the devices are out of range of a WiFi network, thus presenting the users with an opportunity to take corrective measures if they so desire.

Apple said such warnings can take many forms, such as a vibratory warning, audible warning, or visual warning. More interesting, however, is that in the context of iPhone on a cellular network, the concept would aim to warn users when it appears as if a call is likely to be dropped and allow them reposition themselves to prevent a disconnection.

" If the estimated amount of time until the wireless device projected to be out of range is less than [a] threshold, a tangible warning is issued to that effect," Apple said. "In this way, warnings are only issued for those situations where the loss of signal would affect the user in the here and now and thereby prevent unnecessary (and potentially annoying) warnings being issued."

What's more, the Cupertino-based electronics maker said its concept would also allow a warning to be wirelessly transmitted to any other person currently in communication with the user of the wireless device indicating that the call may be dropped.



"The invention is also well suited to be incorporated with mobile devices that are equipped with guidance systems (GPS, accelerometers, etc.) thereby providing an accurate value of the location, velocity, acceleration, elevation, etc. of the wireless mobile device that can be used to give a more precise value of the time remaining until the out of boundary condition is reached," Apple added.

Meanwhile, a second filing by the company describes a method and system for locating objects using Bluetooth, such as the tiny Bluetooth Headset it sells for iPhone that almost everyone has lost in the crease of their couch or car seat one time or another.

Similar to the discovery feature of traditional cordless phones, the concept would allow iPhone users to ping paired Bluetooth devices, which could then emit a high pitched sound or light.

Again, however, Apple takes the concept a bit further by suggesting that it could also sell and market a tiny Bluetooth device that could be attached to almost anything, from a set of keys to a household pet, that would similarly aid in locating those objects in the event they become lost. An interface on the iPhone (master device) could manage several of those devices (slaves) at once, according to the filing.



"The distance between the devices can be calculated by comparing the amount of time delay between the transmission of the signal sent from the master device to the slave device and the reception of the return signal from the slave device," Apple said. "With a precise timing system, the master device can be capable of performing such measurements. Since the speed of the radio waves is known, the distance can be calculated using the time information".

Once this distance is calculated, it can be displayed to the user through the interface on the iPhone. This information can also affect an auditory or visual signal emitted by the slave device, Apple added. For example, a beeping alarm might change in pitch, rate of beeping, or volume as a user approaches a second device. In that instance, the beeping could get faster as the user gets closer to the missing device, or the sound could get louder as the user gets closer.



An alternative method would use directional antennas to determine the direction towards a slave device from the master device. In this case, directional information would be presented to a user through a the iPhone interface to direct the user to the missing slave device.

"Calculating the slave device's location can [also] involve using multiple transmitters or receivers to triangulate the position of the missing device," Apple added. "In order to triangulate position, a system can determine the distances from a device to at least three other known locations. A Global Positioning System, for example, could be used to triangulate a device's location in accordance with the principles of the present invention."
post #2 of 27
So what do you do when you lose your iPhone?
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post #3 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dogcow View Post

So what do you do when you lose your iPhone?

Call it from another phone?
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post #4 of 27
Forget the phone. Anything the can find my keys for me is worth $500.
post #5 of 27
I hope these ideas see the light of day, as they're going to be immensely useful. To know 10 seconds in advance that I'm about to lose the call, that gives me time to say "Hey, I'm about to lose service. I'll call you back in a few." Or at least say "Goodbye." Much more civilized.

As to "what do you do if you lose your iPhone": Seems to me you'd go to any PC you can get your hands on and login to .Mac. You'd then have a secure connection that would let Apple know who you are and let you activate "find my iPhone" feature. They'll check where the iPhone was last seen--which cell tower or WiFi access point. Triangulating, they can probably tell you within a few meters, so you'll know if it fell out in your friend's car, you left it at work, or at least that it's somewhere in your house. Life is good.
post #6 of 27
Sometimes it is incremental, sometimes it is radical, but these guys are always thinking.........
post #7 of 27
You can already buy the kind of device in the second part of this report. Sorry, can't remember the name of it, but MacUser (UK) reviewed it a few weeks ago. They didn't mention if it was patented though.
post #8 of 27
No.. dont.. it will be just annoying.. the way it is is fine...
post #9 of 27
I really like the idea of turning your iPhone into a Bluetooth "radar" for other Bluetooth enabled devices. It would be great if the iPhone also had a radar screen interface to show you getting closer to the sought after object.

I'm already trademarking the name for this new app: iFoundit

This is like Steve Wozniak's Wheels of Zeuss concept. Wireless or RFID connectivity for virtually everything.

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post #10 of 27


I'm on my 6th Apple bluetooth Headset . I keep losing them .. usually at nightclubs etc. \
post #11 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

I really like the idea of turning your iPhone into a Bluetooth "radar" for other Bluetooth enabled devices. It would be great if the iPhone also had a radar screen interface to show you getting closer to the sought after object.

Could a third party developer already do this for BT without any additional HW or firmware updates to the accessory device?
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post #12 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by macintel4me View Post

Forget the phone. Anything the can find my keys for me is worth $500.

Here Here!
post #13 of 27
Bird, in China had the "lost phone" application three years ago. The user had a keychain fob which warned that the phone was out of range. A great application for those who leave their phones in taxis.
post #14 of 27
whats number 918 on that imac-esque looking screen?

hmm...
post #15 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by macintel4me View Post

Forget the phone. Anything the can find my keys for me is worth $500.

Next time you lose your keys send me a private message. I'll get right on it.
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post #16 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

Could a third party developer already do this for BT without any additional HW or firmware updates to the accessory device?

Since I'm not a programmer, I'd be happy to receive a credit and 3% royalty on all sales.

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post #17 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

Since I'm not a programmer, I'd be happy to receive a credit and 3% royalty on all sales.

I wish you the best of luck.

Seriously, I checked the rules of the 6th SDK beat. It looks like BT is still off limits to 3rd parties.
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post #18 of 27
It's thinking out of the box like this that makes Apple a true winner.
post #19 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by ktappe View Post

I hope these ideas see the light of day, as they're going to be immensely useful. To know 10 seconds in advance that I'm about to lose the call, that gives me time to say "Hey, I'm about to lose service. I'll call you back in a few." Or at least say "Goodbye." Much more civilized.

As to "what do you do if you lose your iPhone": Seems to me you'd go to any PC you can get your hands on and login to .Mac. You'd then have a secure connection that would let Apple know who you are and let you activate "find my iPhone" feature. They'll check where the iPhone was last seen--which cell tower or WiFi access point. Triangulating, they can probably tell you within a few meters, so you'll know if it fell out in your friend's car, you left it at work, or at least that it's somewhere in your house. Life is good.


Finding a lost iPhone could be very simple with the right software. Just like the phones that parents can buy their children which transmit their GPS information to a service which provides a map interface for the parent, a software application running on the iphone could transmit it's GPS location (or even the rough WiFi/cell tower positioning) to a central server regularly --- and if lost, you access a map showing where it is.

I don't have enough cellphone network experience to know if you can arbitrarily contact your iPhone directly from the internet at any time, like if your phone has a constant internet IP address. If so, then it would be trivial to directly contact your iPhone when it is lost, and a software app could send back it's GPS coordinates. Another way to do this would be to have a software app maintain a watch on your iPhone's email, and if a message comes in with a special subject, then it could email back it's GPS coordinates in that way. Basically, there are all kinds of options...
post #20 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by ktappe View Post

I hope these ideas see the light of day, as they're going to be immensely useful. To know 10 seconds in advance that I'm about to lose the call, that gives me time to say "Hey, I'm about to lose service. I'll call you back in a few." Or at least say "Goodbye." Much more civilized.

As to "what do you do if you lose your iPhone": Seems to me you'd go to any PC you can get your hands on and login to .Mac. You'd then have a secure connection that would let Apple know who you are and let you activate "find my iPhone" feature. They'll check where the iPhone was last seen--which cell tower or WiFi access point. Triangulating, they can probably tell you within a few meters, so you'll know if it fell out in your friend's car, you left it at work, or at least that it's somewhere in your house. Life is good.

All cell phones currently have the feature to warn you that you are about to lose signal.. it's called the signal bars. Go to a phone that is not the iphone.. turn on the phone. On most phone, the connection bars at the the upper right corner of the phone. Some phones have 5 bars, etc. the less bars, the less reception.
When you have 1 bar, it is a pretty good indication you are about to be out of range.
post #21 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by boss1 View Post



I'm on my 6th Apple bluetooth Headset . I keep losing them .. usually at nightclubs etc. \

You must be a rich dude.. can i hang with you and you buy my drinks?.. those devices are not cheap!!
post #22 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Buckaroo View Post

It's thinking out of the box like this that makes Apple a true winner.

What exactly is out of the box about these ideas?. There are already devices that find your keys for you. MyGF bought me one two years ago. So they put the feature in a phone.. frickin dip d doo.. so what!!..
as to warning of when phone is out of range.. all cell phones do this.. it's called the signal bar.

Even cingular has it in their advertisements. You know.. more bars, more places mantra.

There is nothing revolutionary what apple is doing.. in the instance of warning about being out of range.. they are repackaging an already existing feature.. as to finding keys, they are integrating that into a phone.. nothing out of the box here, sorry.
post #23 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by wnurse View Post

All cell phones currently have the feature to warn you that you are about to lose signal.. it's called the signal bars. Go to a phone that is not the iphone.. turn on the phone. On most phone, the connection bars at the the upper right corner of the phone. Some phones have 5 bars, etc. the less bars, the less reception.
When you have 1 bar, it is a pretty good indication you are about to be out of range.

Well, I think most (if not all) of us have had a situation when we've dropped a call while traveling. The fact that every phone has signal bars doesn't help - most people aren't actively looking at their phone's screen while talking (especially if they're driving while talking). This is a useful idea in that the phone could inform you that your signal is getting weak while you're talking.

Think of it this way - your phone has a battery indicator, as well. Isn't it nice that your phone can warn you when the battery is low, instead of simply shutting off when it's dead?
post #24 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Macrosheep View Post

Think of it this way - your phone has a battery indicator, as well. Isn't it nice that your phone can warn you when the battery is low, instead of simply shutting off when it's dead?

Nice comparison. Welcome to AI.
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post #25 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by wnurse View Post

There is nothing revolutionary what apple is doing.. in the instance of warning about being out of range.. they are repackaging an already existing feature.. as to finding keys, they are integrating that into a phone.. nothing out of the box here, sorry.

Maybe you don't think it's out of whichever box you're defining, which is fine. Let's not use that cliché. The point, really, is that Apple is yet again looking to create a superior product by making improvements that add value to the user experience.

You don't always have to come up with entirely new ideas. Sometimes it's re-working and improving existing ideas into mass-market products that is the true genius.

There were mp3 players before the iPod, and there were touch-screens before the iPhone, but Apple molded those ideas into devices that people actually wanted to use. Xerox came up with the idea of a GUI, but it took Apple to make it useful.
post #26 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Macrosheep View Post

Well, I think most (if not all) of us have had a situation when we've dropped a call while traveling. The fact that every phone has signal bars doesn't help - most people aren't actively looking at their phone's screen while talking (especially if they're driving while talking). This is a useful idea in that the phone could inform you that your signal is getting weak while you're talking.

Think of it this way - your phone has a battery indicator, as well. Isn't it nice that your phone can warn you when the battery is low, instead of simply shutting off when it's dead?

Yes except apple also intends to implement this as a visual feature (along with an audio option). I think it's nice but out of the box?.. revolutionary?.. no, it's merely evolutionary. It's an incremental improvement. Also, most of us know we are going out of range when the person on the other end starts breaking up. I gurantee after a few uses, most users will turn of the audio warning.. how do i know?.. i once had a phone that warned me when a minute was about to be completed. Nextel used to bill to the nearest minute, maybe they still do, but this feature was to warn you when you were coming up to a minute so you could disconnect the call if you wanted to. I turned on the feature and after less than a month, turned it off.. it was annoying to get that beep every minute. Now i understand this audio notification will only happen if you are about to go out of range but wouldn't the person voice breaking up clue you in?. why do you need a beep?. I am sure there are some people who would love this feature but can we all stop acting like this is some novel idea?. like this will change the way cell phones are made?.. It's no more convenient than getting an auditory clue when your party's voice start breaking up. It's just one more way to let you know something is about to go wrong.

As to warning me when my battery is low, my phone does this already. It's called the battery indicator and i look at it every time before i answer the phone or make a call (it's kinda difficult not to, i have to look at the screen when determining who to call or determining who is calling). if i have only 10% battery, i know the phone is about to die. Why do i need up to the minute updates?.. i already know before the i made the call or receive it that the conversation will not last long. Again, it would be a minor improvement in my life and might actually annoy me.

Again, nothing out of the box, sorry.
post #27 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Macrosheep View Post

Maybe you don't think it's out of whichever box you're defining, which is fine. Let's not use that cliché. The point, really, is that Apple is yet again looking to create a superior product by making improvements that add value to the user experience.

You don't always have to come up with entirely new ideas. Sometimes it's re-working and improving existing ideas into mass-market products that is the true genius.

There were mp3 players before the iPod, and there were touch-screens before the iPhone, but Apple molded those ideas into devices that people actually wanted to use. Xerox came up with the idea of a GUI, but it took Apple to make it useful.

Read my other reply to you. How is this improvement better than the clue you get when the other party voice starts breaking up?. i've never had a problem knowing when i am about to go out of range. never.
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