Apple patent filing suggests an even more ‘intelligent,’ flexible Home app

Apple wants to make its Home app even more dependable by having its “suggest” which accessory device control certain features and hardware. The tech giant has filed for a patent (number 20190028549) for “using in-home location awareness.”

In the patent filing, Apple notes that an application (e.g., its Home app) on a device (Mac, iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Apple TV.) may be used to control other devices, such as accessory devices (e.g., kitchen appliances, lighting fixtures, thermometer, etc.), throughout a home. 

A user of the home application may be in the same room as the accessory device that is controlled or may be in a different room from the accessory device that is being controlled. For example, a user may be in their kitchen when they use the home application on their mobile device to close the garage door. 

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Apple notes that users often perform the same or repeated actions with accessory devices while in a particular location. For example, every time a user comes home from work, they may close the garage door when they are in the kitchen. In addition, when it is dark outside, the user may turn on a lamp in the living room or change a temperature on a thermometer while in the living room. 

Therefore, certain activities with respect to devices in a home may be performed regularly and repeatedly (e.g., daily, several times throughout a day) while the user is in a certain location. Apple says this can be a time consuming and tedious task for a user since these tasks are performed regularly or several times throughout the day. 

The company says improvements for identifying an accessory device that should be controlled upon determining a particular location of a mobile device of a user is needed. Specifically, it is desired for the home application on the mobile device to be able to determine a location of the user and suggest a corresponding accessory device that a user may want to control or automatically operate a corresponding accessory device based on the location of the mobile device of the user. 

Here’s the summary of the patent: “Techniques for suggesting accessory devices controlled by an application executing on a mobile device are disclosed. A method includes measuring one or more sensor values to determine a data point at each of a plurality of first times, associating an accessory device with each of the data points, clustering the data points within a threshold distance of each other to create a plurality of clusters. 

“The method also includes, after clustering the data points, measuring one or more sensor values to determine one or more current data points at a second time, determining that one or more current data points at the second time corresponds to a first cluster of the plurality of clusters, identifying a first accessory device associated with one or more of the data points in the first cluster, and providing a message using the application.”

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.