Anytime we are on our way to the airport to catch a flight, we are constantly wondering and worrying about the time that it will take us to clear the security lines before we can board our flight at our designated gate. This predicament gets worse if you find yourself at a wrong terminal and need to find your way back to the right one. Imagine standing in the queue at your local DMV for a driver license test or at your local social security office.
Very few people like to wait in line.
Apple’s patent, 9,449,121, released Sep 20th, addresses solutions that may help users estimate the size of lines at crowded public places and could provide an user with an estimate of the time it will take to clear that line.
The “Venue based Real Time Crowd Modeling and Forecasting” application’s basic premise is based around the assumption that most folks in these crowded public places have access to a mobile device, preferably an iPhone.
The basic summary of the patent claim is that embodiments in this invention can model crowds of people within an environment in real time.
For example, a multitude of mobile devices located within an environment can periodically transmit their geographical locations over networks to a remote server.
The remote server can use these geographical locations to generate a current real-time model of a crowd of people who possess the mobile devices that transmitted the geographical locations.
The remote server can transmit the model over networks back to the mobile devices.
The mobile devices can use the received model to present useful information to the users of those mobile devices such as an estimate of how long will take to clear the line.
People attempting to get from one location in the airport (e.g. the entrance) to another location (e.g., the departure gate) would find it tremendously helpful to know approximately how long they will be waiting in a security line.
Having this information would allow travelers to allocate sufficient time prior to their flight to traverse the security line, without unnecessarily allocating too much time, which can result in an undesirable wait at the end location (e.g., the departure gate).
The patent also hints at possible predicative analytics model to use collected history of the characteristics of the environment to predict what the characteristics of the environment will be at a specified future moment in time.
This would definitely be a valuable product feature if it were to work as claimed in the patent. Not all Apple patents make it to an ultimate product. We hope that this feature gets selected in a future app or iPhone functionality.
After all, who wants to wait in a line forever!