Apple Secures Patent For Location-Driven Phone Triggers

August 28, 2012, by Mandour & Associates, APC

Apple was granted a patent on Tuesday for a system of activating certain preset functions on a wireless device depending upon information like the device’s location, which could be used in future iPhones, iPads and other devices to automatically change device settings based on where a user may be.

U.S. Patent Number 8,254,902, titled “Apparatus and methods for enforcement of policies upon a wireless device,” describes a method for changing one or more functional or operational aspects of a wireless device upon the occurrence of a certain event or other trigger. In one variant, the event could be act of the wireless device associating with a certain access point, like a GPS, cellular or Wi-Fi network.

Under this method, various aspects of device functionality, or “policies,” might be enabled or restricted. This “policy enforcement” capability could be used to to disable noise or light emanating from wireless devices, such as at a movie theater, for preventing wireless devices from communicating with other wireless devices, such as in academic settings, and for forcing certain electronic devices to enter “sleep mode” when entering a sensitive area, according to the patent description.

Despite the existence of a wide variety of different preexisting approaches to wireless device control, no one approach satisfies the need of providing an apparatus and methods of automatically disabling, replacing, or modifying the functionality of a wireless device upon the occurrence of a certain condition, such as entering a particular location, the patent description says.

Ideally, such apparatus and methods would in one aspect allow certain designated zones or areas to enforce policies regarding wireless device operation, and be protected from having unwanted ringing or alarms, display functions or other events associated with the wireless device.

This would also ideally prevent or frustrate the use of wireless devices for inappropriate purposes, the patent description says.

“Wireless devices can often annoy, frustrate, and even threaten people in sensitive venues,” the patent description says. “For example, cell phones with loud ringers frequently disrupt meetings, the presentation of movies, religious ceremonies, weddings, funerals, academic lectures, and test-taking environments.”

“Excessive lighting emanating from wireless devices can also create disruption in dark environments,” the description says. “While it is well known that excessive or bright lighting in a movie theater can spoil the mood of certain movies, excessive lighting can also become a more serious issue in other contexts.”

Inventors Michael Bell of Cupertino, California and Vitali Lovich of Toronto, Canada filed their patent application in June 2008.