Apple has applied for a patent (number 2018034699) for an “augmented reality interface for facilitating identification of arriving vehicle.” It sounds like it could be a boon for Uber and Lyft drivers and passengers.
According to some embodiments of the invention, a mobile device — most likely an iPhone, though an Apple Watch is a possibility — can be used by a passenger to scan scenery. The device would determine whether and where a requested vehicle is located and display an indicator of the requested vehicle on its screen.
Similarly, a mobile device may be used by a driver to scan scenery. The mobile device may determine whether and where a passenger is located and display an indicator of the requesting passenger on the device screen.
In the patent filing, Apple notes that mobile apps are helpful for requesting a car to provide transportation. However, high usage of such mobile apps can cause confusion in an urban environment where there are many cars and where other people may also be waiting on a car.
Apple says it’s a common mistake for a passenger to get into a wrong car. Similar problems can also occur with other modes of transportation. For example, it may be difficult for a person to identify the correct bus at a bus terminal, particularly in a foreign country that uses a different language.
Similarly, the driver of a vehicle can have difficulty in identifying a potential passenger or a specific stopping point to pick up the passenger. A pin or dot identifying a GPS coordinate may not provide sufficient accuracy in a crowded environment. For these reasons, Apple says what’s needed is a way to provide devices that can assist in identifying the correct vehicle that a passenger is waiting to enter.
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.