Apple Found a Clever Way to Use an iPhone to Recognize Your Uber

Apple wants iPhones to scan your Uber 15 photos
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution/USPTO
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A new patent application reveals the innovative way that Apple has discovered to help users recognize their Uber.
The patent, which describes a technology called "augmented reality interface for facilitating identification of arriving vehicle," acknowledges the challenges of recognizing the car you're waiting for when using applications like Uber.

The problem is even more pressing in an urban environment "where there are many cars and where other people may also be waiting on a car," Apple explains. As a result, getting into the wrong vehicle has become a common problem.

Apple proposes an easy way to address this shortcoming, relying on augmented reality for the process. The company explains that vehicle information, including the license plate number, can be added to a database that the iPhone can access when the feature is triggered.

Once the database is populated with the required information, the user can launch the iPhone camera and scan incoming vehicles. If there's a match, meaning that an approaching vehicle is recognized as the ordered vehicle, the user receives a notification.

Apple explains that similar capabilities can also be used for public transportation, eventually providing services like Apple Maps with new-generation capabilities. A tourist traveling in a foreign country might have a hard time figuring out the correct bus at a bus terminal. If they use Apple Maps for navigation, the application can connect to the camera and allow users to scan buses at a bus terminal. When the application finds a match, it can indicate which bus to use, letting users continue the suggested route.

Augment reality capabilities are already available in navigation apps. Google Maps uses the technology to let users scan their surroundings to get more information on nearby locations, such as restaurants and stores. The phone camera scans the real world and marks locations available on Google Maps, so users only need to walk with their mobile devices in their hands to find the right place to eat when searching for a restaurant.

Augmented reality also makes walking guidance more convenient, as the suggested route is highlighted on the phone on top of real-world images.

It's too early to tell if Apple wants to bring this idea to the production version of Apple Maps, but it's important to keep in mind that sometimes, companies file patents to protect their ideas "just in case." Apple could play the safe card here and might not be planning to pursue this idea.

If anything, the company can work together with ride-hailing services like Uber for deeper integration into Apple Maps, eventually providing users with an easier way to recognize their Uber when ordering a ride through the native application on their iPhones.

You can find the complete patent application in the box after the jump.
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About the author: Bogdan Popa
Bogdan Popa profile photo

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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