Let the Apple Car rumors roll on. Apple has filed for a patent (number 20220191644) for an “enhanced automotive passive entry” system. It involves using an iPhone or Apple Watch as a key fob replacement.
About the patent filing
Modern cars allow entry using a key fob, and some cars allow starting by a button when the key fob is inside the car. Such operation is called passive entry and passive start, which use a position of the key fob to unlock the car, allow starting the car, and provide other functionality. The location of the key fob is determined using magnetic signals emitted from magnetic antennas in the car. The magnetic signals are measured by the key fob and sent to the car for determining a location of the key fob.
However, Apple says the key fob can be bulky and be an additional item that a user must carry. What’s more, the magnetic fields are short range, and current techniques are susceptible to hackers, which can allow a thief to access the car and potentially steal it.
Therefore, Apple says it’s desirable to provide new methods and devices that overcome any one of these problems. One such method is an even better system for using an iPhone or Apple Watch as a key fob replacement.
Summary of the patent filing
Here’s Apple’s abstract of the patent filing: “Methods and devices are provided for allowing a mobile device (e.g., a key fob or a consumer electronic device, such as a mobile phone, watch, or other wearable device) to interact with a vehicle such that a location of the mobile device can be determined by the vehicle, thereby enabling certain functionality of the vehicle. A device may include both RF antenna(s) and magnetic antenna(s) for determining a location of a mobile device relative to the vehicle.
“Such a hybrid approach can provide various advantages. Existing magnetic coils on a mobile device (e.g., for charging or communication) may be re-used for distance measurements that are supplemented by the RF measurements. Any device antenna may provide measurements to a machine learning model that determines a region in which the mobile device resides, based on training measurements in the regions.”
When might we see an ‘Apple Car’?
On. Nov. 18, 2021, Bloomberg reported that Apple is accelerating development on its “Apple Car.” The article says the electric vehicle will be self-driving and could roll out in 2025.
What’s more, in a note to clients — as noted by AppleInsider — investment bank Wedbush says Apple is likely to announce a strategic electric vehicle partnership in 2022 to lay the groundwork for an “Apple Car” release in 2025.