Apple patent involves augmented reality inventory tracking on an iPhone

This graphic illustrates augmented reality inventory tracking.

Apple has been granted a patent (number 11,393,195) for “systems and methods for augmented reality inventory tracking.” It involves the ability of a business to use an iPhone to make and view an augmented reality inventory of products.

About the patent

Inventory tracking and analysis is used both in warehousing and distribution of products, but also within management of installations, such as deployments of network and computing devices within an office or plant. Apple says that managing these inventories manually can be time consuming and difficult, with hundreds, thousands, or tens of thousands of devices or more, each with individual configurations and settings to keep track of. 

As a result, mistakes in data entry or failure to properly read records may result in lost or misplaced devices, incorrect configurations and settings, and confusion requiring even more time to correct. Apple says that previous attempts to track inventories have involved tracking devices such as radiofrequency identification (RFID) tags, barcodes or other optically scannable codes, or other such technologies. However, the tech giant says these systems suffer from high expense and cumbersome implementations (e.g. due to the need to affix tags to each device), and don’t work accurately if the tag was obscured, detached, marked, or otherwise improperly affixed. 

Other attempts using cameras to track and identify objects resulted in false positive and false negative matches, in which images of devices from various angles may be mistaken for images of other devices, particularly if part of the device was obscured or if multiple similar items were present. 

Apple says that, additionally, these tracking systems fail to address the second problem of inventory management once devices are recognized. Users or administrators must still return to printed sheets of information to identify configurations or manually access large databases, and misreading of a paper or a typographical error in a query may result in retrieving incorrect information. 

The manual processes involved at each step adds expense, time, and are prone to errors. Apple thinks AR inventory tracking with an iPhone is a better solution.

Summary of the patent

Here’s Apple’s abstract of the patent: “The present disclosure describes systems and methods for augmented reality inventory tracking and analysis that identifies devices based on a combination of features, retrieves a configuration or other characteristics of the selected device and presents the configuration as a rendered overlay on a live image from the camera.”

Dennis Sellers
the authorDennis Sellers
Dennis Sellers is the editor/publisher of Apple World Today. He’s been an “Apple journalist” since 1995 (starting with the first big Apple news site, MacCentral). He loves to read, run, play sports, and watch movies.