The Cupertino California company’s indoor positioning technology could go beyond just identifying a user’s location if all pans out the way it was intended. The additional features include offering estimated wait times at a variety of businesses allowing iPhone users to adjust their schedules and even save time by avoiding high-traffic periods of the day. The concept as a whole was disclosed in a newly published patent application entitled “Enhancing User Services with Indoor Traffic Information.” The proposed invention would use a mobile device such as an iPhone to collect not only location information but also the time and speed associated with people moving in a building.

This data would allow Apple to estimate the foot traffic and wait times at various locations ranging from airports, grocery stores, restaurants and more. The smart system would even be able to adjust reminders and calendar events to improve the efficiency of a user’s day. Furthermore, the indoor mapping system could also suggest the best times to visit a business or even suggest which of several businesses to visit.

Examples of an application would be a user visiting the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), Apple’s technology could determine which office has the shortest lines at any given time and advise the user to visit the location. In the event the location can’t be changed, such as when a user has a flight schedule, the system could instead alert the user with reminders and give them a suggested time to arrive at the airport. Doing so would allow users to account for heavy traffic and make sure they arrive at their gate on time.

The system has an extra layer of complexity because it measures traffic by tracking data from a user’s iPhone, measuring their movement over time. The movements would be used to help determine how long it takes for people to move through a specific location, estimating how long the lines might be at that particular spot. The filing reads the following:

The server can determine how long mobile devices (and their users) loiter around locations of interest or remain in a queue. For example, the server can analyze the indoor traffic information to determine how long (e.g., on average) mobile devices have to wait near a cash register location.
The filing as a whole is quite interesting because the company has made it clear that its interested in indoor positioning technology. We’ll have to see how Apple brings the idea to fruition by being patient.

Source: FreePatentsOnline via AppleInsider