Patently Apple posted a patent application report in September 2019 covering a major modular wall unit system that automatically configures smart homes and buildings. The timing of the patent was just right as Amazon had just introduced ‘eero’ a new wireless mesh network system for the home as presented in the video below.
The US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple in September 2029 that related to a “Modular Wall Unit System.” It’s a vastly grander vision for Apple’s next-gen Smart Home project than Amazon’s eero – and well beyond a simple mesh network.
Apple’s patent background notes that smart home technology has greatly improved in power and functionality in recent years and can provide an enhanced user experience that can be tailored to meet an individual user’s particular needs.
For instance, smart lights, smart security systems, smart entertainment systems, environmental control systems (HVAC), and the like, are becoming more and more customizable and integrated as the internet-of-things (IoT) sets a foothold in modern home designs.
Configuring the smart home can present many challenges. For instance, the differentiation of brands and their incompatibilities between each other, differing connection and communication protocols, wiring and connector types, hardware/software configurations, and general system set up can be daunting to the average consumer
Modular Wall Unit System
A Basic Overview of Apple’s Patent
As a general non-limiting overview of Apple’s invention, certain embodiments can relate to a modular and configurable system for a building (e.g., residential, commercial, or industrial site) that can automatically and dynamically configure a smart building (e.g., smart home) environment as modular accessories are added and removed from the system.
The modular accessory (e.g., see FIGS. 5A-5D below), such as a power outlet, light switch, sensor device, etc., can be configured to be interchangeably and non-destructively coupled and decoupled with the host unit. Once coupled, the system can automatically authenticate and configure (sometimes referred to as bootstrapping) the modular accessory by, for example, coupling AC power and/or Ethernet access to the accessory and configuring the setup and operation of the modular accessory in the smart home environment, which can include setting modular accessory control schemes (e.g., functionality and user control hierarchy) and the like.
The first part of this invention could be reviewed in our September 2019 report.
Most of the new aspects of this Modular Wall Unit System surfacing today are presented in the new patent figures illustrated below.
Apple’s patent FIG. 14 below shows aspects of object detection using a configurable home infrastructure; FIG. 15 is a simplified graph showing changes is distance measurements between host units as different objects are passed between them.
Apple’s patent FIG. 16 above shows aspects of determining a vector for a detected object; FIG. 18 shows aspects of differentiating between multiple detected objects in a configurable home infrastructure.
Apple’s patent FIG. 19 below is a simplified flow chart showing aspects of object detection, vector detection, and user authentication in a configurable home infrastructure.
This a very deep patent that engineers and curious tech geeks will enjoy digging into the details of this very sophisticated future Modular Wall Unit System. Apple’s patent application 20200053689 that was published today by the U.S. Patent Office was filed back in Q1 2019. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.