Apple has applied for a patent (number 2018024296) for a “venue data framework.” It’s designed to help iPhone and Apple Watch users navigate venus such as theaters, stadiums, and other indoor locations.
Some mobile devices such as iPhones and certain Apple Watches have features for determining a geographic location. For example, a mobile device can include a receiver for receiving signals from a global satellite system (e.g., global positioning system or GPS). The mobile device can determine a geographic location, including latitude and longitude, using the received GPS signals. The mobile device can then display the geographic location on a virtual map on a display screen.
The virtual map can be stored in various data formats. The mobile device may visit a venue that includes indoor space. However, maps of indoor space may not be easily available. Even when the maps are available, the maps may not be up to date due to frequent changes to the indoor space, e.g., when a store moves into or out of a mall, causing floor plan to be reconfigured. Even when the maps are up to date, indoor navigation may be difficult or unavailable due to lack of accurate GPS signals in the indoor space as well as lack of integration between maps of outdoor space and maps of indoor space. Apple wants to rectify the situation.
Here’s Apple’s summary of the invention: “Techniques for storing information representing a venue are described. A venue data provider may upload venue data to a venue data service. The venue data can include locations, geometries, and business categories of the buildings and floors. The venue data service can validate the venue data, and request a survey service to survey the venue using the validated venue data.
“A survey can include recording measurements of an environment variable at various locations of the venue. The location service can generate location fingerprint data from the survey. The location fingerprint data can include expected measurements of the environment variable at various locations of the building. The venue data service can provide the location fingerprint data to a mobile device such that the mobile device can determine a location of the mobile device in the venue using sensor readings of the environment variable.”
Of course, Apple files for — and is granted — lots of patents by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Many are for inventions that never see the light of day. However, you never can tell which ones will materialize in a real product.