A couple of new patent applications filed by Apple indicate that it’s working on advanced geofencing capabilities for its operating systems. (Geofencing refers to virtual boundaries imposed on the physical world – for example, the defined search area in an Apple Maps search for local coffee shops.)
One patent essentially enhances the inter-device communications features of a current iOS feature allowing for event-based notifications with respect to geofencing. It basically allows for a notification to be sent from one device to another when a virtual boundary has been crossed – for example, an automated text to a parent when a child arrives at home after school.
The other patent is a little more enigmatic in its applications, but runs along similar conceptual lines. The patent describes a system of “indoor remote triggered location scanning”, which relies on various connected sensors or devices within a building communicating with each other about their locations and those of other connected devices. Most of these ‘nodes’ are meant to be stationary, but mobile devices are incorporated into the system as well. Presumably this would have fairly robust smart home applications – an area that Apple seems keen to be a part of – but it isn’t yet clear exactly what those would entail.
These patents could also have location-based authentication applications, a la the recent TCS-Symantec solution; and it could further enhance the reach of location-based marketing. But the main aspiration at the moment would seem to be to get more devices talking to each other, deepening the embedment of Apple devices in the smart home and the Internet of Things more broadly.