New Apple Patent Hits The USPTO, Control Your Home But Is The Price Too High?

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Apple filed yet another patent with the USPTO which is not at all unusual as it seems to  be a frequent practice with them. This one is particularly interesting as they are attempting to immerse the user even deeper into the Apple ecosystem by automating the users world using their various devices. Automation of things is nothing new, you can do it in Android with certain apps and you can do it in iOS with certain apps. But what does make this different is that Apple is using GPS, Relay Serves and Data to make it happen. Which begs the question. If we buy into this automation, will Apple track my every move? Here’s what the abstract says in the patent filing.

System and method of determining location of wireless communication devices/persons for controlling/adjusting operation of devices based on the location

One or more relay servers can access first data received from one or more first devices (e.g., a phone, tablet computer, vehicle tracking device, or badge reader). The one or more relay servers can aggregate the data and infer a location of a person. The one or more relay servers can transmit second signals including second data to one or more second devices (e.g., lighting systems, security systems, garage-door openers, music controllers, climate controllers, or kitchen appliances), the second data being based at least in part on the estimated location. The second-signal transmission can be pushed to the second devices or pulled by the second devices. Operations of the second devices can be controlled at least in part on the second data.

BACKGROUND

The present disclosure relates generally to inferring a person’s location based on communications received from one or more transmitting devices, and propagating data related to the inferred location to one or more receiving devices.

Traditionally, people control the power state and operation of many household electronic devices. For example, a person can turn on an oven, turn on lights, adjust a stereo’s volume setting, or open a garage door. Manual operations of these devices can allow for enhanced use flexibility, such that a person can precisely control when, e.g., a device is turned on. However, repeated manual operations can be tedious, and people can forget to optimally adjust device controls.

Manual operation of some devices has recently been replaced with automatic operations. For example, a person can set a schedule controlling the heating or cooling of his house. The automatic operations of devices free people from needing to repeatedly adjust device controls. Further, a device can be adjusted to a setting such that the device is at the desired state at a desired time. For example, an oven can be pre-heated before dinner time. However, automatic operations are frequently sub-optimal due to variations in a person’s daily routines. A person can leave work at different times each day, can encounter different traffic patterns, or can exhibit different hunger levels. Thus, unpredictable events and emotions can make it difficult to establish automatic operations that consistently produce desired results.

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What is claimed is: 

1. A device for relaying location information, the device comprising: a receiver to receive first signals from a plurality of first devices associated with a person, each of the first signals comprising first data, the first data being indicative of an estimated location of the person, wherein, for at least one of the first devices, the first data is indicative of a real-time user-input activity; a location estimator to estimate a location of the person associated with the plurality of first devices, the location estimator comprising: a data aggregator to aggregate at least some of the first data in the first signals; and a weight assigner to assign one or more weights to the first data in the first signals, wherein the estimated location of the person is based at least in part on the assigned weights; a signal generator to generate one or more second signals based on the estimated location of the person, each of the one or more second signals comprising second data; and a transmitter that transmit the one or more second signals to a plurality of second devices.

2. The device of claim 1 wherein at least two of the plurality of second devices receive a same second signal from the signal generator.

3. The device of claim 1 wherein the second data in at least one of the second signals includes the estimated location of the person.

4. The device of claim 1 wherein the one or more transmitters transmit the one or more second signals to the plurality second devices wirelessly.

5. The device of claim 1 wherein the first data of at least one of the first signals includes an activity state, and wherein the one or more assigned weights are based at least in part on the activity state.

6. The device of claim 1 further comprising a rule implementor to apply a location-based rule, the rule implementor comprising: a criterion assessor to determine whether a criterion in the location-based rule is satisfied, the determination being based at least in part on the estimated location of the person, wherein the generation of the one or more second signals or the transmission of the one or more second signals is based at least in part on the determination of whether the criterion in the location-based rule is satisfied.

7. The device of claim 6 wherein the rule implementor further includes a setting identifier to identify a setting for at least one of the plurality of second devices, the setting being based at least in part on whether the criterion in the location-based rule is satisfied, wherein the second data in at least one of the second signals includes the setting.

8. The device of claim 6 further comprising a rule generator that generates or updates the location-based rule based at least in part on use patterns of at least one of the second devices.

9. A method for relaying location information, the method comprising: receiving, at a server, first data collected by a plurality of first devices, the first data from each device being indicative of a location of a person associated with the plurality of first devices, wherein, for at least one of the first devices, the first data is indicative of a real-time user-input activity; aggregating, by the server, the received first data across the first devices, estimating, by the server, a location of the person based at least in part on the aggregated data; generating, by the server, one or more signals, the one or more signals including second data based at least in part on the estimated location of the person; identifying a plurality of second devices; and propagating, by the server, the generated one or more signals to the plurality of second devices.

10. The method of claim 9 wherein at least one second device of the plurality of second devices includes an electronic device in a home of the person.

The patent has a huge list of claims that promise to control everything from your garage door to your stove. But of course all of this is being done through tracking your location at all times, which goes to Apples servers. At a time we are all struggling with privacy concerns do we really want to continue to give up and trust our personal information to corporations like Apple? We already know the NSA and other government entities can simply take any information they want from these large companies. Are we willing to open up the entire book for them to read? I’m a technophile through and through but at what point do I sacrifice conveniences for my privacy? What are your thoughts? Sound off in the comments below. And hit the link for the entire patent read.

USPTO Apple Filing 

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