Apple exploring possibility of augmented reality maps

A new US patent filing suggests that Apple is exploring ideas on improving their Maps application for future versions of iOS. Augmented reality has made an appearance in other iPhone apps, but so far has not yet been used in Apple's integrated apps. In Apple's patent filing, the user would be able to see their local area through their camera and find nearby points of interest.

The advantage to this system, Apple says, is that it builds on the strengths of an augmented reality app with directions support. "If a user desires to visit one of the museums, the user must switch applications, or at a minimum, switch out of an augmented reality view to learn directions to the museum," the patent reads. Apple claims that switching between separate apps for finding a place presents a whole new series of problems, such as the assumption that the user knows which way north is, or that local signs are clear and decipherable.

How long it will take before we can see such a system in action remains unclear, but the patent was filed December 2010, more recent than other Apple patents that have been made public. The fact that the patent was filed relatively recently is a strong indicator that Apple is still considering the idea, but previous patents have taken much longer before they have shown themselves in a commercially available product. For example, the touch-sensitive Magic Mouse was patented in June 2008, but wasn't released until October 2009.

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18 Comments

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fuzi0719 said,
Is this like Apple "augmenting reality" with their evidence in the Samsung lawsuits?

I think it's called the Jobs (Augmented) Reality distortion Field

I agee with MariosX, this kind of AR app already exists... The US patent System might need a serious overhaul toi stick with (augmented) reality...

Doesn't Layer or Layar [something similar] in android do that?
By taking a picture doesn't it show you interesting places?

The patent system needs a serious kick in the a$$, so that companies like Apple can't patent a bunch of stuff without actually having BUILT the technology that they decide to "patent".

Companies like Apple tend to patent all kinds of crazy things, in-case they might be developed later, either by them or someone else. And if someone else gets there first, Apple sues them.

darkthunder said,
The patent system needs a serious kick in the a$$, so that companies like Apple can't patent a bunch of stuff without actually having BUILT the technology that they decide to "patent".

Companies like Apple tend to patent all kinds of crazy things, in-case they might be developed later, either by them or someone else. And if someone else gets there first, Apple sues them.


It's an idea they came up with, they have the right to patent it. I don't see the problem with that! Who cares if they decide to use it or not, the fact is they're proving they came up with the idea first.

Tk1917 said,

It's an idea they came up with, they have the right to patent it. I don't see the problem with that! Who cares if they decide to use it or not, the fact is they're proving they came up with the idea first.

Except it isnt an idea that they came up with. They are just mixing and matching a few existing concepts into a more unified app. They even say themselves pretty much that users can do this already but have to switch between apps. All Apple seem to be doing is grouping features, I don't see how this needs a patent really

.Vamp said,

Except it isnt an idea that they came up with. They are just mixing and matching a few existing concepts into a more unified app. They even say themselves pretty much that users can do this already but have to switch between apps. All Apple seem to be doing is grouping features, I don't see how this needs a patent really


I can't wait for Apple patenting a fruit for a company's name so that they can sue Blackberry.

Coi said,

I can't wait for Apple patenting a fruit for a company's name so that they can sue Blackberry.

I lol'd to that! Just imagine Apple patenting Pads than all the companies that makes pad for girls would be sued.

.Vamp said,

Except it isnt an idea that they came up with. They are just mixing and matching a few existing concepts into a more unified app. They even say themselves pretty much that users can do this already but have to switch between apps. All Apple seem to be doing is grouping features, I don't see how this needs a patent really

So they can sue small local businesses that make the same thing but better and kill them off.

Coi said,

I can't wait for Apple patenting a fruit for a company's name so that they can sue Blackberry.

lol not bad cept the companys called Research In Motion

Tk1917 said,

It's an idea they came up with, they have the right to patent it. I don't see the problem with that! Who cares if they decide to use it or not, the fact is they're proving they came up with the idea first.

Getting a patent doesn't mean you were the first to think it up. Besides, there's been demoes of this before

thommcg said,

Getting a patent doesn't mean you were the first to think it up. Besides, there's been demoes of this before

Nevermind demo actually, see Layar perhaps.

.Vamp said,

Except it isnt an idea that they came up with. They are just mixing and matching a few existing concepts into a more unified app. They even say themselves pretty much that users can do this already but have to switch between apps. All Apple seem to be doing is grouping features, I don't see how this needs a patent really


Most inventions are a combination of existing ideas. You can think as hard as you want for a patent you feel is justified, and I can probably break it down into parts that were invented previously by others. Innovation is, fundamentally, finding new ways to use existing things. Heck, that's the whole spirit behind the "ah-hah!" moment: seeing something in a way you hadn't seen it before.

Not that I'm justifying every patent ever filed for. I just dislike the idea that mixing things together can't be innovative.

Hell, I don't even like the idea that code isn't invention. A tree of clever code work can be just as inventive as a blueprint. The only difference is that one is geometry and the other is algebra.