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back to article Can't find your motor? Apple patents solve car park conundrums

Apple has filed a series of patents which will help people find their motors in a crowded car park and then open the doors without using a key. The patents that emerged today are called "method for locating a vehicle" and "accessing a vehicle using portable devices". The first sets out a system for anyone who wants to leave …

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Facepalm

It involves (new) computers, phones and wireless

Well, if the patents are granted, then all hope for the USPTO should be extinguished in one final blow. The criteria of "obvious to a person skilled in the field" seems to be a total loss for the USPTO.

I'm now waiting for a patent to be granted on "waving a hand by means of electronic communication using a wireless infrastructure". Hell, it involves computers and phones and whatever electronics, so it must be worthy.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It involves (new) computers, phones and wireless

prior art too, I am positive i've heard of phones being used to open cars before....

Also there are car finder apps out there already!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It involves (new) computers, phones and wireless

ZipCar/ZipVan allow you to use your phone to lock and unlock their vehicles as well as sounding the horn through their app.

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Anonymous Coward

Another Way to Push Out Possible Customers

I had two thought reading this,

1) Are the customers for this sort of non device really suitable to drive a car or are they the sort of lame brains who drive to the end of a merge lane on a motor way and stop wondering which way to go? On second thoughts perhaps they use apple maps?

2) Please let me know which car make want to 'help' their customers with this so that I know which cars to avoid buying, - or getting too close to on the road.

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Re: Another Way to Push Out Possible Customers

If only competent people were allowed to drive, no one would buy a Kia or Prius. So I'm for it!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Another Way to Push Out Possible Customers

I was thinking about the same thing... anyone not competent enough to need an app. to find their car, really has no business owning a car. It's bad enough that people are dumbing themselves down in the memory department.

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Facepalm

Re: Another Way to Push Out Possible Customers

"I was thinking about the same thing... anyone not competent enough to need an app. to find their car, really has no business owning a car."

Many years ago I parked my car one of the long stay car parks at Brussels airport to go to Norway for a month or so on business. I carefully made a note of the car park building number, the floor, the zone and what have you.

Four weeks passed and i returned to the airport, found the bit of paper in the Filofax (yes, it was those days), hunted down the car park building number, climbed to the right floor and then looked for the car in the correct zone.

Nothing. Not a car there. I checked and checked again but, no, nothing and it was then that I could have used such as app.

As it happens, I found the car many hours later - they had renumbered all the car parks whilst I was away.

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Silver badge

Re: Another Way to Push Out Possible Customers

@Armando 123

Just bought the wife a Kia Soul - she loves it, and with 6.5years left of the guarantee, and 3 years free servicing so do I. I'm going to save a lot of garage time. Drives OK (Not race car handling of course - and yes, I have raced cars), full featured, looks funky. Pleased so far.

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Meh

optional

steal the phone, steal the car, rob the house

welcome to the new iCrime

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Meh

Re: optional

Yeah, it's almost like if you mugged me now - I have 3 items in my pockets. Key fob, wallet and phone. What kind of opportunistic theif isn't going to take the lot?

"Oh you know what? business is good right now, I think I'll just take the wallet - you can keep the phone and keys..."

...said no robber, ever.

That said, of those 3 items, the only one that isn't tracked is the wallet...

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Silver badge

Re: optional

However if you're mugged and the mugger takes your car keys, he won't know where your car is parked.

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Silver badge

Re: optional

However if you're mugged and the mugger takes your car keys, he won't know where your car is parked.

On the other hand, which would you prefer? That your mugger take off with your phone and be able to locate, open and start your car, or that your mugger take your wallet, keys and phone and then points his gun at your head and says "show me where your car is?"

If I'm going to be mugged, I'd prefer to give him everything he needs to complete the mugging as efficiently as possible. Better to be left without a car than become a hostage should the police interrupt me showing him where I've parked.

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Big Brother

Re: optional

Muggers usually just want your cash/wallet/purse, your Rolex/Diamond Ring and your iThingy before disappearing over the horizon. It's not very common that they would want you to take them to your car. It's much easier to just grab somebody just getting in or out of their car.

I found the car park renumbering story a good laugh. I wonder how many people wound up wandering around looking for their car. Evil bastards! They were probably all up in the security office with some beer and salty snacks laughing their as$es off.

I really don't want my car spewing forth any information. The OEM alarm/remote systems are already bad enough. Crooks are having a great time visiting large shopping center car parks and running a little app that can output an avalanche of codes in just seconds. Sure, it sets off a bunch of alarms, but it also unwinds the windows and starts the ignition. All of the alarms just make a nice distraction.

I bet the finance companies are salivating for cars that can be locked out when somebody is late on their payment. It would also be handy for repo companies to be able to go online and have a car located with within 3 meters and also be able to shoot it a code when they get there to take possession. There's also the coppers that would love to be able to kill your engine at-will any time, just in case you decide to take them on a high speed chase or not buckle up. How would people feel about their satnav uploading everywhere they've been to "The Man" (or the Mrs)? I think that older model cars will suddenly gain in value if any of the above nightmares come to pass.

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g e
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Facepalm

WTF?

There's been 'where did I park' style apps since well before 2011.

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Facepalm

Re: WTF?

That's what I thought too - had one on my Android phone for ages.

I prefer to use biological memory storage and stereo optical devices linked to a visual cortex to find my car. i.e. remember where you left the thing and look for it.

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Re: WTF?

Yes, but they use the old fashioned over-simple method of "remembering where I parked" whereas this proposes something much more complicated, error-prone and time-consuming i.e. "asking the car where it is but only if you're already within 20m of that location and have reasonable line of sight" which is what mobile technology is all about (ever compared transferring your contact info by Bluetooth vs. just telling someone your phone number?).

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Re: WTF?

I don't dispute the "wtf" element to your post, but doesn't the iDonut HQ building have a big underground car park? GPS won't work there, so it is logical to have such a system in place for dopey iWorkers.

I completely agree that the patent is in the "bleedin' obvious" category, and should be denied with all due speed.

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Are the worlds car parks full of iPhone owners, wandering aimlessly around, unable to find their cars?

Are there special teams of car park attendants who round them up and take them round the back, and put them out of their misery with a single shot to the back of the head?

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Silver badge

Optional

We can but dream.

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Coat

Whereas Android owners have to take the bus.

(Yes, it's true, as I get older, I'm turning into Jeremy Clarkson)

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This Android user uses the brain he was born with.

Get out of car, look round, see where stairs/doors/exit/lift are

Get to stairs or lift and make note of floor number.

Remember these facts.

So far, I've never actually misplaced a car.

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Americanese

""parking structure", or “car park” for anyone not fluent in Cupertinian."

Much as it pains me to defend anything Apple, Parking Structure is just another example of two nations divided by a common language rather than another laughable attempt make simple things seem complex. Parking Structure = Multi-Storey Car Park, Parking Garage = Underground Car Park (or sometimes M-S CP inside a larger building), Parking Lot = Car Park.

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Gold badge
Meh

Re: Americanese

You have to say that the version in which all of them are described as a "car park", with optional modifiers for type of same, is the right one......

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Bronze badge

Re: Americanese

Unless the car park is for lorries. Then, it's a lorry nest.

hommage to Terry Prachett.

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Anonymous Coward

I think I see the problem here...

The kind of fashion victim who "must have" the latest iDevice is also the type of person who "must have" a "Home Appliance White" Audi or "Dense Sea Fog Silver" BMW. Unfortunately this means that the kind of overpriced "coffee" establishments these idiots congregate at has a car park that resembles the back of an Audi/BMW dealer, with two rows of identical cars.

Expecting the iPerson to remember their own car registration or where they parked is of course a bridge too far...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I think I see the problem here...

I'd been wondering what it was that drove me towards an white Audi A6, now I understand it was the subconscious iControl being radiated from the damned company iPhone.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I think I see the problem here...

Company iPhone AND a Company A6? There's no hope for you sorry ;)

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Facepalm

Let me get this straight

They are trying to patent putting bluetooth transceivers into cars and carparks (they're already in phones), and having them communicate... And an app then using this communication data to tell you where your car is.

Which part of that isn't just using existing off the shelf functionality to do something obvious?

The app is the only bit that doesn't already exist, and as already pointed out, there is plenty of prior art.

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Silver badge

Wouldnt it be simpler

just to bookmark a GPS location?

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FAIL

Re: Wouldnt it be simpler

Difficult to do when there aren't any visible satellites due to you being inside a structure

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Silver badge

Re: Wouldnt it be simpler

Yes, I suppose. But you could call down an air strike. OK, you'll blow your car up, but you'll exorcise the frustration of misplacing it

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Silver badge

Re: Wouldnt it be simpler

Literary alternatives - just leave a trail of breadcrumbs, or unwind a thread from your cloak

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A pen anyone

Just write the location down on your entry ticket

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Re: A pen anyone

which lasts until you're parked someplace where the ticket must be pre-paid and placed someplace visible to prove you've paid to park there. That is, any place that doesn't number the actual spaces which depend on idiots (that is, other people) to remember a three-digit number for whole minutes.

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Silver badge

Re: A pen anyone

Then you can record it on the Notes App on your iDevice. I usually do that as I don't have a pen with me.

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FAIL

Already exists!

I already have a device that can remotely locate my car in a busy car park. It's called a key fob, I push the button and if my car is near the car lights flash and the doors unlock. I'm not entirely sure what is original or new about this patent?

Again; we should be questioning the ability of someone's driving if they cannot remember where they parked their car.

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Re: Already exists!

Unless you have a wireless pass-card car, where the doors unlock if the handle is pulled whilst the card is beside the car. And the engine starts when the the 'start button' is pushed and the card is (again) nearby.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Already exists!

Yep. Can turn on the lights or, press and hold to set the alarm off.

Was quite handy recently on a trip to Alton Towers. Arriving back in the carpark to find everything pretty poorly lit - pressed the lights button and there she is, lighting up our way across the grass!

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Silver badge

Re: Already exists!

Or if you have an original Nokia phone you could just throw it as hard as possible at random until it hit your car and set off the alarm which you recognise - and with a old Nokia the phone would still work

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Coat

Doesn't have quite the same ring to it

Dude, Where's My App That Will Make This A Much Shorter Film

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Alien

Re: Doesn't have quite the same ring to it

aw, man, I wish that had been around - there's 83 minutes of my life I'm never getting back

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A possible problem...

I currently have my bus pass on my phone and occasionally run into one problem. Like most smart phones out there, my battery won't really last two full days of normal use (my fiancee's won't even last one). If my battery dies, I have no bus ticket and must pay for a paper one. If I have no key or fob for my car, instead relying on my phone to find it and unlock it, exactly how stuffed am I if the battery fails? The battery life for even the worst key fob is likely measured in months, and of course metal keys (or paper bus tickets) handily never run out of battery at all.

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Boffin

Re: A possible problem...

key fob battery life....

Currently 13 years

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Re: A possible problem...

iWatch = back up key.

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Anonymous Coward

Need to add the mode where you send a command from you iPhone to get the car to turn on the engine and aircon so that when you arrive 10 mins later its nice and cool ..... this would avoid the need for people to leave their cars in car parks with engines and aircon running all the time they are shopping (and I've lived in Cupertino and seen this happen!)

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Silver badge

Most of the high end remote car starters have these options, and a lot of them have phone apps. Of course, where I live, it's more to start the car and get the heater running so you don't freeze your ass off...

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WTF?

...engines and aircon running all the time...

Sounds like he price of fuel is *way* too low in Cupertino...

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Even more fun, in the US, Verizon *has already been selling this*, as an add-on accessory. Look for Verizon Vehicle Diagnostics by Delphi.

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T5

IIRC Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 (AKA God's own Terminal) has a car park that guides you to a parking spot. When you return from your trip and pay the immense cost of parking at the terminal you can use a vending type machine to find out where you parked your car. The ticket also has your car reg number on it which is checked by cameras on the way out so you can't drive in with a Ford Fiesta and then drive out with a stolen Audi.

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Bronze badge

Re: T5

If you forget where your car is in the T5 Biz lot, just ride the pods back and forth while looking out for your motor. Still might not find your car quicker then walking the aisles where you think it might be, but fun anyway.

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