back to article Apple patents technology to STALK YOU in your own HOME

Apple has been granted a patent for technology which will detect movement around the user's home and automatically change the settings of light switches or other household devices accordingly. The patent raises the prospect that fanbois could wander around the house, fondling their slab aimlessly while their telly turns itself …

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Anonymous Coward

Patenting...

... Prior Art, the Bleedin' Obvious and Algorithms

... and combinations of any or all of the above.

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Re: Patenting...

Hmm - not even reaching that far back in time, IMS presence is supposed to enable this sort of thing, as well as a raft of other tech. I'd be fairly certain that this "idea" is just a logical extension of something that already exists (who will no doubt start quaking at the thought of the cost of lawyering up when Apple serve a Cease & Desist (or pay up) order on them).

The patent was filed in July 2012, too, so there's all sorts of stuff out there. Doesn't Sonos do something like this?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Patenting...

Yes, it really makes you want to go into an Apple store, take a dump on the carpet and say "patent that". Knowing Apple they probably would.

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Re: Patenting...

Er... this is just taking existing technologies and software and applying them for a purpose.

This means that CSC, IBM, and every other integrator can patent every project they sell?

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A person can set a schedule controlling the heating or cooling of his house.

I'm pretty sure I already have a device in my house that's doing that right at the moment.

And my oven already has a timer on it.

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Bill beat them to it...

When you visit the Gates' residence, you're given a badge. Music, lighting, temperature and all manner of things follow you round according to your preference.

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Blue lights?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Bill beat them to it...

But his system runs on Windows 3.1 (true).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Bill beat them to it...

Unfortunately the whole thing runs on Windows and Bill can often be seen at neighbours houses waiting for his own to reboot.

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Will it have Couch Potato mode?

I don't want my TV turning off 2 hours into Aliens Special Edition.

BTW, the iPhone already does that home proximity stuff. I rarely use Siri, but I've told her a few times to remind me to do something "when I get home" and, true enough, the phone pops up a message when I pull up at home in the car.

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Re: Will it have Couch Potato mode?

Some Sony TVs already turn themselves off - you don't need home automation for that to happen! Some models detect motion in the room (though evidently we've been a bit too 'relaxed' on occasion, since it thinks we're either dead, asleep or absent), others go to sleep when buttons haven't been pushed for a while.

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Re: Will it have Couch Potato mode?

You know, technology is wunnerfull an all that, but TBH, I AM capable of turning my bloody telly off MYSELF. And I don't want any product of the Sony Corporation deciding I'm dead and switching stuff off neither.

And while I'm in technophobe mode:

Do you remember the old days, when you had to go upstairs, rummage around to find your camera. check there was film in it, take a photo of your dinner, finish the roll, take it down the chemist, order 20 copies, wait a week, then go round each of your friends' houses with a copy of the photo so you could show them what you ate?

No?

Neither do I, so stop it!

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WTF?

Interesting...

I can see that this would certainly have uses for some people (perhaps wheelchair users or those in mobility frames), but aside from that, wouldn't this require the "system" (ie Apple) to collect lots of data about your likes and dislikes? Does anyone else see the marginal contradiction with the phrase they just used re: information sharing: 'We have no interest in amassing personal information' ??!!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Interesting...

wouldn't this require the "system" (ie Apple) to collect lots of data about your likes and dislikes?

There's no need for these settings to live outside the device, other than maybe sync'ed with everything else. The Reminder app already has location capabilities built in, which you can, for instance, use to trigger shopping items when you get near the relevant shop. It doesn't do so not by default for a whole list, you have to do it for every item, but the functionality is there.

However, I hope there's some time dependency on it. I really don't want the house to light up and the stereo to start when I try to sneak in late at night :)

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Re: Interesting...

"wouldn't this require the "system" (ie Apple) to collect lots of data about your likes and dislikes?"

I think you've just hit on what they are actually patenting. All the rest of of the home automation already exists, but they are standalone systems which don't spaff data back to home base. Apples version will be "cloudy" and all the processing will happen on their systems, not yours.

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FAIL

discrimination!

There are some Fangirls out there you know!

Back on track here.

Please don't blame Apple for this. Blame the USPTO for allowing it.

There is a saying in business, 'if I don't try this then someone else will'. Apple tried it and succeeded. It could have just as well have been Google, IBM, Microsoft or a host of others.

Blame the system. so those of you in the US why don't you try to get the system changed?

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Re: discrimination!

The USPTO certainly shares a good chunk of the blame.

It could have been Google, IBM, Msft or a host of other however, as usual it wasn't. They could also grab the patent and then not use it offensively however they don't do that either.

Plenty of blame for both parties.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: don't blame Apple for this

Why? Just because the "system" let's someone do something, does this mean they should?

The system is broken so we'll just exploit it for our own greed?

BLAME APPLE. BLAME GOOGLE, BLAME MICROSOFT, and whichever greed ridden patent shell company that goes this route. And BLAME THE USPTO too, and OBAMA, and POLITICIANS who don't do anything about it

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Anonymous Coward

BLAME APPLE. BLAME GOOGLE, BLAME MICROSOFT

And now get off my lawn.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: discrimination!

Of course Google would only brandish patents in a defensive manner by defensively striking first with FRAND patents. Classy.

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So the fact that I already have a smart home that monitors where people are and turns lights on for them, it also detects when the cat walks into the kitchen and makes sure they have enough water...

I mean seriously the kit would have already been patented!!

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Anonymous Coward

I've been setting up a rather rudimentary version of home comtrol using NFC stickers and my phone, but I'd love to expand it into other area like lighting etc (but rented house).

I don't think I need any apple kit to do that though, not that apple kit would work with my NFC/tasker set up anyway.

I should really look up some more ideas for how to do this, I do have a spare raspberry pi sitting around...

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Homeeasy have light socket receivers (no wiring) and battery powered PIR.

http://www.homeeasy.eu/Receivers/

Phillips & co are doing similar.

Plenty of tools to run on raspberry pi to do this.

have fun.

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For reasons unknown to my conscious mind, I put anon on my last comment.

Still that looks very interesting, I've bookmarked it for christmas wish list perusal, thanks! :)

I would definitely like a remotely controlled house.

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Anonymous Coward

@Thecowking

We have a similarly NFC tagged home.It's interesting to play with for sure.

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"I would definitely like a remotely controlled house."

Me too, although I'd rather have remote control of somebody else's house. That's where the REAL fun lies

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Joke

"I would definitely like a remotely controlled house."

It'll be a bugger for steering 'round corners though.

And all those buggers with bungalows will win the races. Lighter =faster acceleration. Lower centre of gravity = better cornering,

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There is definitely a market for home automation and the like, but currently costs are high.

For example, Sonos home audio systems carry a very high price tag, yet many readers here could 'roll their own' at a fraction of the cost using Homeplugs and Tri-path amplifiers (okay, the end result might not be as 'polished', but the BOM is similar).

You don't have to suffer from full-blown OCD to sometimes have a nagging feeling "Did I turn the iron off before I left the house?" as you're on your way to work. A system that could provide such confirmation through one's smartphone would be welcome. The devil will be in the ease of use in the application.

Sensors are cheap, processing power is cheap. Using an array of microphones could allow the movement of people in a house to be tracked.... turning on lights is one application, burglar detection another.... or even "There hasn't been a sound from Granny's house for 10 hours, let's give her a ring and see if she's okay".

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Anonymous Coward

"but currently costs are high".... and I guarantee the apple stuff will be higher!.

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Sonos unfortunately have crippled their system I almost brought sonos for my whole house, but due to their idiotic decision to add only an optical in to their sound bar, it means I can't get 5.1 surround out of it as TV's do not pass through 5.1 to optical from hdmi sources...

Hence its pointless me installing...

I do hope someone soon brings out a decent home sound system that can also do 5.1 surround for my TV...

Sonos has the advantage of being able to play in sync, that is what makes it a good system in theory, most other options cant do that. I am not sure any that can other than Sonos.

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It was a lovely system called the Squeezebox which was made by SlimDevices and then Logitech bought them out - however there are still relatively cheap Squeezebox Classic v3 boxes floating around on ebay and the Logitech Media Server software is still free and downloadable at http://www.mysqueezebox.com/download you can have as many squeezeboxes as you want and they do play in sync. You can also download the software and just use virtual players on your computers if you don't want to buy ANY hardware at all. Was out before Sonos and is IMHO loads better.

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>I can't get 5.1 surround out of it as TV's do not pass through 5.1 to optical from hdmi sources...

I seem to recall my mate had that issue with some speakers and his PS3... I think he got a £10 HDMI > Toslink doodad off eBay.

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>"but currently costs are high".... and I guarantee the apple stuff will be higher!.

Really? Have you looked at the price of replicating a Sonos-like system using Apple Airports and a Mac Mini?

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Must have been sponsored by the power companies.

Would the system detect that you had been to a take away and wouldn't need the oven heating up? Or that you had been to the supermarket and bought the ingredients for a stir-fry instead of a shepherds pie? What happens in case of a relationship argument; does one half tell the garage door not to open for you?

Anyone know the number of a strait-jacket manufacturer? I have a feeling that I'm going to need one sooner than I expected.

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WTF?

I have these all over - they are called PIR (Passive Infra-Red) sensors

It's how I cut my home, hotel and office electricity bills.

My automobiles and motorcycles use BlueTooth and PIR proximity technology. And I use Ultrasound to sense gas and water tank levels as well as for security (lights).

And NEST thermometers and the new smoke detectors detect motion.

Perhaps Apple could patent prior art as a patentable process.

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Re: I have these all over - they are called PIR (Passive Infra-Red) sensors

This patent application describes a mesh network that can triangulate the position of a person within a home by detecting Bluetooth/WiFi from a personal device, as well as relaying sensor/control packets on to relevant nodes. There is prior art for this kind of thing, but your use of stand-alone PIR switches is not it, sorry.

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Unhappy

Clearly the people who work at the USPO have never been in any resonably good hotel where all sorts of things automatically turn on and off depending on your presence. Maybe the poor dears aren't bribed paid enough.

On second thoughts, maybe nobody would ever think of using ideas common throughout the comercial environment in a domestic setting. Yes, of course! How absolutely brilliant of Apple to think of that.

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M W

Here's were it's going.

Why don't they just have done with it, require all fanbois(and girlz) have an itunes apple account chip embedded in their arses that has GPS/RFID/WIFI on it, then apple can track them everywhere.

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home automation is fine

but how about they work on more location aware services on their phones first.

Geo-fenced reminders are great and all, but how about some location specific settings / profiles. (leave office, turn off work email and wifi. arrive home turn personal email on, set ring to loud), that sort of thing, can't be too hard, can it?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: home automation is fine

@ D@v3 We do almost that now with NFC tags in my home and office.

It requires bumping the (unlocked) phone on a tag, but that's no hardship given you can place them anywhere.

In the lounge, bedroom and dining room they are on/near light switches, in the car next to the spot my phone lives and in my office on the corner of my desk etc.

Each phone can be told to do upto 20 odd commands/things when it touches each tag. I use it for exactly what you describe. Bluetooth on/off in the car, change volume and ringtone profiles, change wifi networks/settings.Simple things really but bumping my phone against something is a lot easier than doing it all myself multiple times daily.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: home automation is fine

That exists. There are a large variety of application on Android that do those sorts of things. Tasker being the most popular. Combine that with AutoRemote or any other plugins and you can start sending commands to remote systems to do tasks.

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Dear world - this already exists and is not as some would have you believe - expensive at all.

Here you will find Byron/HomeEasy devices which operate on the 433MHz band ( http://buyhomeeasy.co.uk/catalog/index.php?cPath=1 )

Here you will find a USB stick that allows you to talk to these devices with a computer (most people are using a RasberryPi) ( http://www.uk-automation.co.uk/products/RFXCOM-RFXtrx433.html )

Here you will find COMPLETELY FREE software to interface between the sticks and the devices... ( http://www.domoticz.com/ )

I use it to do things like - switch a light when I enter a room after sunset, the light will stay on for 10 minutes but everytime the PIR detects movement it restarts the 10 minute timer again. It's stupidly simple to use and has a event creator called Blockly which is like building lego.

Here is an example: http://imgur.com/uP3q2W0

In this example a virtual switch "v_at_home" is toggled on and off by Tasker on my Android phone, when I get 500 metres away from home, the switch is set to off, when I get within 500 metres of home the switch is set to on,

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Some top tips, there, Mr Jones. I wonder if one can integrate into it some modules that can use an array of microphones to triangulate a persons position within the home? Not only would that achieve what Apple are trying to do with Bluetooth, but it could be integrated into baby/toddler monitors and burglar alarms...

Hmm, I wonder of household pico-cells can be set up to sound an alarm if an phone with an unfamiliar EMEI enters the house under certain conditions? (or just make a note of it for the police)

This home automation stuff is in it's infancy, but I'm glad the components are cheap enough now for home-brew efforts. I mean, we've had central locking in cars for decades, yet not in our homes...

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Anonymous Coward

Your post highlights where this apple stuff I think will likely fail.

There are too many variables involved.

Simply turning lights on when entering a room is pointless, likewise running some event when you're nearly home.

The important thing is to do the above if the time window is between x and y, but not if its z day of the week or if its past sunset. I doubt the apple stuff will be that flexible.

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Anonymous Coward

Thanks for the link, have an upvote. This might be our next step.Hoping PIR will reduce electricity bills.

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You can even have it email you a picture from an IP cam when a certain device is triggered - in our case - a Byron Doorbell (it can both receive signals from ALL Byron doorbells in the "SX" range - which is pretty much all of them, and it can also trigger the doorbells too)

So when someone pushes the Doorbell, Domoticz receives the signal and snaps a picture on the IP cam watching the door - and emails it to my phone.

Some of you may even have the remote sockets already - B&Q were selling them for years - remote control sockets, they came in packs of 3 with a remote control, that's where we started - and when I discovered the system could be controlled by a cheap-ish USB stick - off I went!

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I'm all for automation, but...

...this is a "solution" to a problem which doesn't exist. I don't want my phone to boil the kettle or preheat the oven to gas mark 5 just because I pop into the kitchen to get a glass of water. I have my own device for that, it's called a brain. Maybe I'll try to patent it...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I'm all for automation, but...

Apple would never Patent the brain... they just want people who do not have a brain to buy their products... they are engineering the need for a brain out of the apple buyer species....

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FAIL

Apparently in the Apple dictionary 'Innovation' means 'Patenting technology that already exists and/or is glaringly obvious'. Although I'm not sure if that definition comes before or after, 'Patenting technological ideas in the hope that someone will invent or create an invention using those ideas, or similar ideas, who we can then sue.'

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Happy

So Apple has a technology that detects when you round' a corner?

Oh come on. Given the subject, you knew that it was only a matter of time....

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