Apple invention would help you keep track of loved ones as they travel

Apple has been granted a patent (number 9,743,234) for “monitoring a mobile device en route to destination.” It would allow iOS, watchOS and, presumably, macOS users to know keep track of someone en route to a destination.

In the patent filing, Apple notes that most people have experienced the anxiety of waiting for a loved one to arrive safely at a destination. Typically, you know the departure time, destination and estimated time of arrival of a traveler. When the traveler arrives safely at the destination, contact is made through telephone, e-mail or text messaging to confirm safe arrival. 

However, there are instances, however, where a traveler's estimated time of arrival is delayed due to traffic, severe weather, flat tire or some other event. If the traveler is traveling on an airplane, a flight tracker application may be used to determine when their plane is estimated to arrive at a destination airport. 

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If the traveler is traveling in a car, train, boat, bus or on foot, there is often no convenient way to know whether the traveler will be delayed or is in need of assistance without the traveler initiating contact or without the concerned individual making many phone calls to track down the traveler's whereabouts. Apple wants to change this.

Here’s the patent summary: “A system, method and apparatus are disclosed for monitoring a mobile device en route to a destination. A user of a monitored device specifies geo-fence regions along a route to the destination. Entry and exit of regions triggers the sending of event notifications to a monitoring device. Event notifications may be sent if an estimated time of arrival changes due to delay. Event notifications may be sent if the monitored device deviates from a planned route by a threshold distance. Event notifications may be sent through a direct communication link between the monitored device and monitoring device or through a location-based service..”

Of course, Apple files for — and is granted — lots of patents by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Many are for inventions that never see the light of day. However, you never can tell which ones will materialize in a real product.