Apple's patented iPhone-based CarPlay remote starts cars, performs high-level functions

Posted:
in General Discussion edited October 2014
An Apple patent published on Tuesday could foreshadow future CarPlay functionality that allows users to unlocks car doors, start the engine and perform other automated tasks based on a user's proximity to their vehicle.


Source: USPTO


The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted Apple U.S. Patent No. 8,868,254 for "Accessory control with geo-fencing," which basically turns an iPhone into an advanced car remote when paired with a CarPlay-like "accessory" device.

Popularized by third-party auto parts manufacturers -- namely anti-theft device makers -- and subsequently adopted by car companies, the idea of remotely controlling a car's basic functions (beyond door locks) has been around for decades. Some of the first systems were created to turn on integrated engine block heaters from indoors during the winter months, while contemporary models can do anything from cooling down the cabin with AC to rolling down windows.

Apple's invention is a take on the technology that brings the power of iOS devices into the equation, more specifically the geo-location capabilities of the iPhone and cellular-connected iPads. Using components provided in Apple's latest portables, the remote control system is able to intelligently monitor and invoke certain car convenience functions based on geofences.

First, a vehicle accessory capable of connecting with an iPhone, such as a CarPlay head unit, determines that a car is parked and sends a first signal in the form of a vCard or other digital format containing geographic coordinates and other location information. Bluetooth LE is mentioned as a suitable means of communication, though other methods can be employed.




Upon receiving the vCard, a user's iPhone generates a virtual geofence around the car and monitors its own position in relation to the car's tagged spot. By estimating its current location proximate to the car's geofenced area, an iPhone is able to send appropriate control signals to the accessory at any given time. For example, when a user is leaving their car, a signal may be sent to lock the car doors and arm the alarm.

Apple's patent provides for extremely granular functionality, perhaps beyond what is capable with current geolocation systems. In the patent, a car can have multiple geofence boundaries that pair with different car functions. In some cases, a geofence boundary may be set for a car door, another for the hood and yet another for the trunk. Then, when a user carrying an iPhone crosses a threshold to the rear of their car, the system can intelligently open the trunk, for example.

In some embodiments, the in-car accessory is also cellular-enabled, opening the door to a much wider set of control possibilities. In these cases, an iPhone can continuously monitor user movement and, through pattern analysis algorithms, send a signal to warm up the car's cabin when it estimates a user to be approaching within a five-minute radius.

To prevent accidents, rules are applied to the control scheme. For example, the accessory may not be able to start the car's engine until the iPhone user is determined to be sitting in the driver's seat. These motion-based instructions safeguard against unwanted consequences and wasted energy use.

The patent goes on to describe a number of variations on the remote control concept, including descriptions of an accessory head unit similar to those outlined by the CarPlay specification.




Apple's ambitions to integrate the patent's technology into CarPlay is unknown at this time. CarPlay is only now hitting showroom floors -- in very limited availability -- so it remains to be seen if the project will be a hit with consumers, a deciding factor in how far automakers are willing to take the partnership down the road.

Apple's advanced car remote patent was first filed for in June 2012 and credits Sylvain Louboutin as its inventor.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 27
    I see the possible glitches:

     

    The car drives away on proximity alert.

  • Reply 2 of 27
    philboogiephilboogie Posts: 7,438member
    The car drives away on proximity alert.

    This ain't K.I.T.T.
  • Reply 3 of 27
    blazarblazar Posts: 270member
    Not clear why we havent had this already for years...

    At least the simple concept of turning your phone into your keyfob.

    Of COURSE customers will want this... The keyfob and keys take space in your pocket and all pocket items will likely be made obsolete.

    The phone will need some sort of low energy bluetooth with a separate battery or something to keep the "key" part functioning at all times.

    You will also need a way to let someone else drive the car that does not have your phone. This wont be an issue as long as all your family members have a phone. What about tenporary keys? Or would you need to use the keyfob again...
  • Reply 4 of 27
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,161member
    philboogie wrote: »
    This ain't K.I.T.T.

    But with Siri it ain't far off ... :)

    I bet the developer software tool is ?CarKit
  • Reply 5 of 27
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,438member
    blazar wrote: »
    Not clear why we havent had this already for years...

    At least the simple concept of turning your phone into your keyfob.

    Thee's been smartphone apps available for a few years now that offer some of the same features. Yes, it might become something new for Apple themselves but the concept isn't new as the article mentions.
  • Reply 6 of 27
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,438member
    philboogie wrote: »
    This ain't K.I.T.T.

    Perhaps some car manufacturers were encouraged by the old TV show to dabble a little in K.I.T.T tech back in the day. Few people are aware that Mercedes did some development work on a smart key some twenty years ago. It included two-way voice functions for vehicle locking/unlocking, diagnostics, theft deterrence, various vehicle functions, etc. Don't know how far they got with it or whether they bothered patenting anything but in any event they seem to have been way ahead of their time.

    Edit: Wow, they actually patented some of it, tho they apparently have abandoned the idea since they didn't bother to continue paying the USPTO renewal fee.
    http://www.google.com/patents/US5889472
  • Reply 7 of 27
    I have put off my new car purchase by at least a year, until the couple of carmakers whose models I am interested in get their a$$e$ in gear and give me CarPlay. If they don't, they'll lose me for at least the next few years.

    I doubt that I am the only one who feels this way. I hope that the carmakers feel the Apple effect on their sales.
  • Reply 8 of 27
    This makes more sense with AppleWatch. If your phone unlocks and starts your car just based on proximity...problems. TouchID would be more secure but less convenient. AppleWatch + Siri would be best.
    It is unlikely you will loose your watch. You can just ask Siri to start the car or open the trunk when you ACTUALLY want it not when it THINKS you do.
    When you are walking toward your vehicle you could get an alert asking if you like to warm/cool the vehicle.
  • Reply 9 of 27
    But with Siri it ain't far off ... :)

    I bet the developer software tool is ?CarKit
    You mean CarKitt SDK.
  • Reply 10 of 27
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,518member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by blazar View Post



    Not clear why we havent had this already for years...



    At least the simple concept of turning your phone into your keyfob.



    Of COURSE customers will want this... The keyfob and keys take space in your pocket and all pocket items will likely be made obsolete.



    The phone will need some sort of low energy bluetooth with a separate battery or something to keep the "key" part functioning at all times.



    You will also need a way to let someone else drive the car that does not have your phone. This wont be an issue as long as all your family members have a phone. What about tenporary keys? Or would you need to use the keyfob again...

    My 07 BMW does this, my BWM will unlock the doors, set the car seat to my preference, set my radio preset, As well as the voice command i use for dialing my phone and set my address books in the cars radio to allow voice dialing. as well as my mirror positions all as I walk up to my car. Yes it all works from the Keyfob and we have two fobs and each have their own settings. The only thing my car does not do is start since it is manual trans. The only thing new here is that is linked to your phone not a car key/fob.

     

    Just an FYI, auto starting may not be legal in all states, some states have laws about letting the car run when no one is in the car. It dates back to the 70's with gas shortages and pollution since people use to let cars warm up in the winter 

  • Reply 11 of 27
    Apple's solution could be designed to comply with local laws automatically based on your GPS position.
  • Reply 12 of 27
    bill42bill42 Posts: 128member

    My 2014 BMW has the feature to let my iPhone open the doors disabled in the USA, and autostart features are not offered by BMW for cars sold in the US. The tech has been here for years but the auto manufacturers are held back by lawsuits and insurance companies. We won't be seeing any of these cool features any time soon here in the USA.

  • Reply 13 of 27
    I have a car with push button start which is nice that I don't have to take my keys out of my pocket, but it's always bothered me that I couldn't just use my phone or have something I could fit in my wallet, so I wouldn't have to carry the keys around. Also I have an app through onstar that lets me do most of that stuff, but... It's slow and doesn't always work, plus once my free subscription runs out it will cost me 20$ a month to keep it. Something like this would be great
  • Reply 14 of 27
    philboogie wrote: »
    This ain't K.I.T.T.
    gatorguy wrote: »
    Perhaps some car manufacturers were encouraged by the old TV show to dabble a little in K.I.T.T tech back in the day. Few people are aware that Mercedes did some development work on a smart key some twenty years ago. It included two-way voice functions for vehicle locking/unlocking, diagnostics, theft deterrence, various vehicle functions, etc. Don't know how far they got with it or whether they bothered patenting anything but in any event they seem to have been way ahead of their time.

    David Hasselhoff spoke to KITT remotely using a wrist watch. Perhaps that will be the way we control our cars. Tesla D has autonomous driving capabilities, so it wouldn't be beyond our reach to implement the tech from the TV show. Maybe even get Hasselhoff to promote it. :)
  • Reply 15 of 27
    maestro64 wrote: »
    My 07 BMW does this, my BWM will unlock the doors, set the car seat to my preference, set my radio preset, As well as the voice command i use for dialing my phone and set my address books in the cars radio to allow voice dialing. as well as my mirror positions all as I walk up to my car. Yes it all works from the Keyfob and we have two fobs and each have their own settings. The only thing my car does not do is start since it is manual trans. The only thing new here is that is linked to your phone not a car key/fob.

    I think you mean your 007 BMW does this. :D
  • Reply 16 of 27
    sockrolidsockrolid Posts: 2,788member

    Hey, BMW, you reading AppleInsider?

    Either way, please get your scheiße together and integrate CarPlay into your 2016 models.

    I'd hate to have to buy an aftermarket system for my next car.

  • Reply 17 of 27
    Yet another innovation for someone to say "That already exists" about. Since the wheel was around for a long time, I guess that means that someone walked up to the 2007 BMW and said "the only thing new here is that it opens windows for me."
  • Reply 18 of 27
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post







    David Hasselhoff spoke to KITT remotely using a wrist watch. Perhaps that will be the way we control our cars. Tesla D has autonomous driving capabilities, so it wouldn't be beyond our reach to implement the tech from the TV show. Maybe even get Hasselhoff to promote it. image



    David Hasselhoff + ?Watch + Tesla 

    Good call.  I forgot he did that.  That would make a great advertisement.

  • Reply 19 of 27
    ibeamibeam Posts: 322member

    In my opinion, cars should never be started remotely.

  • Reply 20 of 27
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,518member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by ibeam View Post

     

    In my opinion, cars should never be started remotely.


    yeah go check out youtube on people who installed  aftermarket systems  on cars with a manual trans only to find the car crashed into something.

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