Apple Designs a Navigation System That Makes Google Maps Look So Yesterday

Patent drawing describing the new AR-based navigation 8 photos
Photo: USPTO
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It’s no longer a secret that Apple is working around the clock on more new-generation capabilities for Apple Maps to make it a more powerful alternative to Google Maps. At the same time, the Cupertino-based tech firm is also preparing several innovative approaches.
One of them is detailed in a recent patent called “Augmented reality display” and explaining how AR could be used for easier navigation inside a car.

In just a few words, what Apple describes in this patent is a way to provide navigation features to users with the help of an AR-based system. While that isn’t necessarily something totally new, the way the iPhone maker wants to do it certainly is.

First of all, Apple says it could use a complex approach comprising everything from 3D models to pre-generated data, textures, and other geometry information, all in an attempt to provide a better look at the route the driver is supposed to follow. That means occluded routes would no longer be a problem, as in theory, this system would be able to see through buildings or other obstacles based on AR.

So if the path you’re supposed to use is going behind a tall building, you should see an AR version based on a virtual rendering, all in an attempt to make it easier for the driver to figure out which way to go.

And that’s not all. Apple’s AR system could also provide more information on the surrounding points of interest, hopefully not for ads but to make the navigation experience more straightforward. The AR approach would allow Apple’s technology to let you know what’s around you in a more natural way.

The AR system may obtain pre-generated 3D data (e.g., 3D tiles) from a remote source (e.g., cloud-based storage), and may use this pre-generated 3D data (e.g., a combination of 3D mesh, textures, and other geometry information) to augment local data (e.g., a point cloud of data collected by vehicle sensors) to determine much more information about a scene, including information about occluded or distant regions of the scene, than is available from the local data,” Apple explains in the patent.

Of course, the whole idea is still in the patent stage, so it goes without saying there’s no confirmation it’s ready for mass production.
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About the author: Bogdan Popa
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Bogdan keeps an eye on how technology is taking over the car world. His long-term goals are buying an 18-wheeler because he needs more space for his kid’s toys, and convincing Google and Apple that Android Auto and CarPlay deserve at least as much attention as their phones.
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