Apple files patent for site routing in the context of indoor-outdoor navigation mapping
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Earlier today, Apple released a report titled “Prague Airport becomes the 15th European airport to use convenient indoor terminal maps using Apple Maps”. In total, 74 airports around the world now use terminal maps based on Apple Maps. Coincidentally, the United States Patent and Trademark Office released one of Apple’s patent applications called “Routing Sites Based on the Relationships of Card Features” on Thursday.

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Apple’s file defines the premises as the airports, shopping centers, amphitheatres, arenas, parks, school campuses and more. Places can be inside (for example, a covered mall) and outside (for example, a park), or a combination of these (for example, a university campus with several buildings separated by an outdoor space, etc.). Map features or elements can include rooms, stores, building levels, or any other type of space.

The relationship defined for a pair of map features can define how a user can move from an origin feature to a destination feature. When generating a route through a location, a mapping application can route the user through multiple map features that have a variety of relationships. For example, the relationship can define a mechanism (for example, an intermediate map entity) through which a user can move from the origin entity to the destination entity.

Generally, a route through a site will be a pedestrian route (for example, on foot) through the site and may include the pedestrian navigation of certain pedestrian means of transport (for example, elevator, moving walkway, escalator, etc.). Thus, a relation can define, or constrain, the way in which a pedestrian user can move in a place, as described below.

In some situations, a route through a site may include travel by vehicle using a bicycle, golf cart, scooter, car, bus, etc. as on a path between the buildings of a site.

The relation can define constraints on the movement of the user from the origin entity to the destination entity. For example, constraints can include a directional constraint. For example, the user can only move in one direction from the origin entity to the destination entity, or in both directions between origin and destination. Constraints can include time constraints.

For example, the user can only switch from the originating entity to the destination entity between certain specified times. Constraints can include security constraints. For example, the user can only switch from an origin function to a destination function if he has the appropriate security clearance.

Apple’s patent filing provides a complete overview of the mapping system, including sample processes; Graphical user interfaces; Confidentiality issues; and example of system architecture.

The Apple FIG patent. 1 below is a block diagram of an example system for routing a user through a location based on relationships of cartographic entities. For example, the system 100 can be used to configure relationships between entities (for example, map elements) in location map data and / or generate routes between a departure location and a destination location associated with a place. Map features or elements can include rooms, stores, building levels, or any other type of space.

The Apple FIG patent. 10 above is a flow diagram of an example of a site routing process based on relationships of cartographic entities.

It should be noted that one of the inventors of this patent is recognized as being Antti Saarinen. Apple acquired its company Indoor.io which was known internationally for its expertise in indoor mapping.

For more details, see Apple’s patent application 20200011677 which was filed in July 2019 and published last Thursday by the U.S. Patent Office.

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