April 23, 2014 | United States: Apple’s invention relates to lock-out mechanisms for driver iDevices. The lock-out mechanisms disable the ability of an iDevice to perform certain functions, such as texting, while one is driving.
In one embodiment, an iDevice will be able to provide a lock-out mechanism without requiring any modifications or additions to a vehicle. In this embodiment, the handheld computing device can comprise a motion analyzer, a scenery analyzer and a lock-out mechanism.
The motion analyzer can detect whether the handheld computing device is in motion beyond a predetermined threshold level. The scenery analyzer can determine whether a holder of handheld computing device is located within a safe operating area of a vehicle. And the lock-out mechanism can disable one or more functions of the handheld computing device based on output of the motion analyzer, and enable the one or more functions based on output of the scenery analyzer.
Texting while driving has become a major concern of parents, law enforcement, and the general public. An April 2006 study found that 80 percent of auto accidents are caused by distractions such as applying makeup, eating, and text messaging on handheld computing devices (texting). According to the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety and Students against Destruction Decisions, teens report that texting is their number one distraction while driving. Teens understand that texting while driving is dangerous, but this is often not enough motivation to end the practice.
New laws are being written to make texting illegal while driving. However, law enforcement officials report that their ability to catch offenders is limited because the texting device can be used out of sight (e.g., on the driver’s lap), thus making texting while driving even more dangerous. Texting while driving has become so widespread it is doubtful that law enforcement will have any significant effect on stopping the practice.
In other embodiments, the iDevice can provide a lock-out mechanism with modifications or additions to the vehicle. In one embodiment, a vehicle and an iDevice can provide a lock-out mechanism in which the vehicle, through transmission of a signal, can cause disabled functionality of the handheld computing device to be enabled.
In another embodiment, a vehicle can unilaterally provide a lock-out mechanism by transmitting blocking signals to an unsafe operating area of the vehicle. In a further embodiment, a vehicle key and an iDevice can provide a lock-out mechanism in which the key transmits a signal when engaged with the vehicle.In yet another embodiment, a vehicle and a handheld computing device can provide a lock-out mechanism in which the vehicle transmits a signal notifying the iDevice to disable functionality. This technology could be a good candidate for a future version of CarPlay.
Interestingly, the sole inventor of this granted patent is John Elias who’s famous for his work on all-things Multitouch for iDevices. Apple originally filed this patent back in Q4 2008 before CarPlay was even a thought at Apple. To know more about CarPlay, see this Case Study.
Find more details about the patent here.