Apple received a patent for a system that can be used to remote start a car and unlock/lock doors and also perform more sophisticated functions.
AppleInsider speculates the technology will become part of CarPlay.
The patent relates to a vehicle accessory in the car that transmits signals to a mobile device, setting up many geofences around the vehicle. If the phone detects it has crossed a geofence it can generate a signal to the vehicle to control a function such as remote start, heating, defroster operation, music selection, seat warmer activation, navigation operations, door locking and trunk opening.
The system is intelligent enough to understand the direction from which the mobile phone is crossing a geofence, and whether the user has just entered or exited the car. And the geofenced areas can be small. So it might know, for example, when you’re walking towards the trunk and then open the trunk.
Here is an excerpt from the patent description:
For example, geofences can include circular geofences with vehicle-related origins, geofences with shapes paralleling vehicle components (e.g., tied to a door, a trunk or a hood), etc. The mobile phone can then identify absolute-location boundaries of the geofences in the rules. The mobile phone can repeatedly monitor its location relative to the geofence boundaries and detect when a boundary has been crossed, a direction in which the boundary is being crossed, a point of the boundary being crossed, and/or a speed at which the mobile phone is moving when the boundary is crossed. Function control rules can include specific control commands that are to be transmitted to the vehicle upon crossing specific relative boundaries. For example, function control rules can identify parameters related to door locking, trunk opening, vehicle running, heater or cooling operation, defroster operation, music selection or status, accessory power states, seat warmers, navigation operations, etc. Upon detecting a particular geofence crossing (e.g., and a direction in which an ingress or egress of the geofence is made), the mobile phone can generate and transmit a second signal to the vehicle accessory identifying the function control to be implemented.