We’ve all been there. You’re walking back to the car, past rows and rows of stationary vehicles, heavy shopping starting to take a toll on your back, when you suddenly realised that you have absolutely no recollection of where you left the car. Searching around for the familiar paintwork, you find yourself ambling aimlessly through the car park, cursing the similarly coloured vehicles. If this has ever happened to you, then help might well be arriving from an unlikely source.
While they might be more commonly recognised as the manufacturer of iPhones and iPads, Californian technology giants Apple have recently patented a piece of technology which is designed to direct you straight back to your car. As smartphones have steadily become more and more capable, we are finding new ways to deal with old problems. Your parents might have been forced to wander aimlessly until they found the car, but those with an iPhone will be able to follow a simple route back to wherever you might have parked.
But how does it work? When you park, the software uses the inbuilt GPS and accelerometer sensors to detect the exact location. Even if you are in a multi-storey car park or underground – and even if you have no mobile signal – the application is able to recall exactly where you left the car. When it is time to go home, the device will be able to guide you straight back to your vehicle. The app was revealed by the US Patent and Trademark Office, though there are similar systems available from Apple’s competitor, Google.
The company already provides users with a mapping system featuring satellite navigation (called Apple Maps) and the new car location feature is likely to be incorporated as part of the wider vehicle initiative, CarPlay. This system was recently unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show, alongside the more familiar offerings of supercars and sports utility vehicles. The CarPlay system is thought to be coming to the next wave of releases from manufacturers such as Ford, BMW and Jaguar, offering tighter integration between cars and Apple’s range of electronic devices. As well as satellite navigation, CarPlay allows drivers to send and receive SMS messages without the need to remove hands from the wheel. With the coming announcement and launch of the eagerly anticipated iPhone 6, expect to hear more information very soon.