One of Apple’s numerous patent applications has been granted a green light today and unlike most other vague texts, this one is quite interesting, particularly in its implications. The Cupertino tech giant now has the sole legal right to produce a “Navigation system acquisition and use of cellular coverage map data”.
What this entails is a system, which is able to model SatNav routing options, based on cell signal strength. The idea is that you cell phone is pretty aware of the signal strength at any given time and thanks to anonymous data reporting, Apple has that information at hand. This can then be aggregated on a map and used to suggest routes that avoid areas with shady cell strength or even, perhaps, too congested places.
The idea, of course, is that a lot of users are very dependent on data connectivity for the applications they use, be it music streaming or the navigation software itself. We all know how inconvenient it can be to be left, stranded in an unknown area, just because of bad reception and this could very well be the answer.
Now, we should make a few points about the patent. First, it is just one out of a sea of similar documents and the functions it describes are very much centered around in-car user:
A mobile device can transmit that data to a vehicular navigation system responsible for automatically selecting a high-quality route of vehicular travel between a specified source and destination.
Also, the patent was filed pack in 2012, when Apple maps were in its very infancy, so it might have to do with some feature, which seemed feasible at the time, but might still never see the light of day, as is the reality with a lot of patents, especially in the tech world. Another reason, why this needs to be clarified is that there are rumors floating around that Apple is going into the auto business and is developing a smart car and that this patent is somehow related to the presumable vehicle. The timing, however, makes this highly unfeasible, to say the least.
So, at this point the patent is nothing more than a blank slate. It’s up to Apple to decide how, when and if they are going to build upon it. Until then all we can do is wait for some development on the matter. What is your take on the patent and what possible uses and implication do you see stemming from it in the future?