Apple wants to make sure it’s easy to find a misplaced iPhone in an Apple Car : Tech Live Trends

For folks like my wife who can easily “lose” her iPhone in her car, Apple has got your back — well, if you buy an Apple Car. 

The tech giant has filed for a patent (number US 11678155 B2) for “systems and methods for locating mobile devices within a vehicle.”

About the patent

In the patent, Apple notes that mobile devices such as iPhones are often lost inside vehicles. The tech giant says that current methods for locating a mobile device in a vehicle “require some degree of manual intervention, which can be tedious and cumbersome.”

User elements in a vehicle, for example a car window, can be controlled with a manual control located on the interior of the vehicle. However, these manual controls are usually only accessible to a passenger who is sitting physically close to the control. 

For example, a passenger in the backseat of a car can generally only operate the window that is located closest to him or her. What’s more, if the particular window control that is closest to the passenger malfunctions, the window may become completely inoperable to the passenger.

Per Apple’s patent, a vehicle can include an onboard computer and one or more signal generators and/or sensors on the interior of the vehicle. The signal generators and/or sensors are configured to interact with other signal generators and/or sensors on a mobile device inside the vehicle. 

Based on the interactions between the vehicle signal generators and/or sensors and the mobile device signal generators and/or sensors, the vehicle’s onboard computer determines a location and/or orientation of the mobile device inside the vehicle. The mobile device’s location and/or orientation may be used by the vehicle to provide a number of features.

Summary of the patent

Here’s Apple’s abstract of the patent: “A method includes receiving, by sensors inside an enclosure of a vehicle, signals generated by signal generators in the enclosure of the vehicle. One of the sensors or signal generators may be part of a mobile device inside the enclosure. The method also includes determining a location and orientation of the mobile device from the signals. 

“The method further includes determining, based on the location and orientation of the mobile device, an object in the enclosure that the mobile device is pointing to. The mobile device further includes transmitting a message to the mobile device in response to determining that the mobile device is pointing to the object, so as to cause the mobile device to display a user interface to allow the mobile device to control the object.”

When might we see an Apple Car?

I predict that a full self-driving Apple Car won’t roll out until 2027 or beyond. As for pricing, your average person likely won’t be able to afford the vehicle. According to Bloomberg, Apple’s consumer vehicle will start at “under US$100,000.” However, I expect that price to be barely under $100,000.

Other rumors said that Apple wanted its vehicle to come without a steering wheel or pedals, but has decided that such a plan isn’t feasible at this time. And I’ll be shocked if such an automobile is feasible by 2027.

Here’s a round-up of other rumors about the Apple Car:

° Apple currently plans to develop a vehicle that lets drivers conduct other tasks — say, watch a movie or play a game — on a freeway and be alerted with ample time to switch over to manual control if they reach city streets or encounter inclement weather. 

° It will use the cloud for some AI processing.

° Apple might offer a remote command center that could assist drivers and control cars from afar during emergencies.

° Apple may also offer its own insurance program.

° Apple still hasn’t dialed in on a design for its first vehicle and the team is still working in a “pre-prototype” stage.

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