updated 04:40 pm EDT, Thu April 16, 2009
Apple car, sports patents
Two sets of patent applications filed with the USPTO may point to unusual interests on Apple's part. The first describes a system for pairing in-car electronics with Apple hardware such as an iPhone, iPod or even MacBook. In using the technique, a car's electronics could be prevented from working for thieves simply due to being out of wireless range. Alternately the pairing could be used to control navigation systems even when an Apple portable is present, for instance by shutting down phone dialing when outside of a given area.
The second set illustrates an expansion of Apple sports technology, beyond the basic pedometer functions of the Nike+iPod kit. Future systems could be linked with GPS receivers, as well as directional sensors, both of which could be integrated into headphones or helmets in order to help track a person's gaze. That data could then be interpreted in the form of gesture commands, Apple suggests.
Users could for instance shift their heads to page through menus on an iPod, control volume and track selection, or turn on a device simply by looking at it. More complex interaction is proposed in the form of yes/no questions; in using an iPhone for instance, people could be prompted to nod to answer a call, or shake their heads to skip it.
Apple also proposes that sensors need not be limited to direction, as they could be enhanced to read various biometric figures, such as temperature and heartbeat. Similar ideas have been proposed by Apple in the past, though the company has not advanced beyond a theoretical stage. Combined biometrics could be used to provide a more detailed analysis of an athlete's performance.