Apple wants iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches to be able to exchange info by looking at each other

Forget AirDrop. Apple wants iPhones, iPads, and Apple Watches to be able to exchange data when they're pointed at each other a virtual "handshake" if you wil. The company has filed for a patent (number 20190372668) for device awareness in line-of-sight optical communication systems.

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In the patent filing, Apple says that, With the use of mobile electronic devices such as iPhones, iPads, and Apple Watches becoming an indispensable part of modern life, device-to-device interaction is expected to become the seamless digital extension of ad-hoc interpersonal communication.

A prerequisite to device-to-device interaction is device-to-device awareness; that is, the capability of electronic devices to discover (identify), map, and track other electronic devices, typically in real time. Apples goal: data exchange by pointing devices toward each other and issuing the appropriate command.

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Here's the summary of the invention: Techniques are disclosed by which electronic devices that include line-of-sight optical communication systems may become optically aware of other electronic devices and perform optical communication handshakes with other devices. An electronic device may use a motion sensor to record its posing when it determines, during the performance of an optical communication handshake, that it is pointed at the electronic device with which it is performing the optical communication handshake (or that the other electronic device is within a field of view of the electronic device).

A recorded device posing, in combination with optical communications and motion sensor data, may also be used to map another device's location and enable a user of an electronic device to pan away from and break optical communication with the other device, then easily return to a recorded posing that enables a continuation of optical communications with the other device.