Apple Just Patented Your Vacation

Apple wants to blend iPhone hardware and apps to manage your in-airport experiences. In fact, they’ve app-ified the entire travel package.



Now boarding: iTravel.

The latest Apple RFID-based patent has surfaced, but this time it’s not just clever, it’s bizarre and rather breathtaking in its scope. Apple wants to blend iPhone hardware and apps to manage your in-airport experiences. In fact, they’ve app-ified the entire travel package.

In the incredibly detailed patent data, we can see that the app goes far beyond simply managing your airport ID and documentation process, but the
entire travel booking affair–meaning Apple’s chasing after companies
like Expedia, and possibly even Google here. Using iTravel, you could search for, review and even book flights,
rental cars, hotels, cruises, train and bus journeys–and share the info on a
social network, which could be fun and useful way of coordinating business
trips. And what better way to get last minute info updates via SMS or
push messages, or even alert phone calls from the airline in the event
of big travel plan changes, than on the very smartphone you’re using to
both book the affair and ID yourself to the airline?


The idea is similar to other Apple concepts combining RFID tech with iPhones, essentially offering a way to ID yourself at the airport check-in desk the same way you would at the gate of a music concert (that Apple patent surfaced last week). The security issues would obviously be more significant at the airport. Hence Apple’s patented app/hardware combination would carry all the data about you that you typically need in an airport–like your flight info, your ID, any pre-printed boarding passes (possibly including the quick-scannable 2D QR codes) and so on. At the check-in desk you’d wave your iPhone before a detector, and the clerk would automatically get all your data beamed to their PC.

But Apple also envisages the tech working at security checkpoints, where carrying fewer items, when you’re juggling luggage, documents, shoes and jackets is a welcome notion, and even at fully automated check-in and baggage drop-off points. The entire system could be swifter, cheaper (fewer staff needed) and more pleasant from a traveler’s point of view.



Given the Eyjafjallajokull-ing travel
lately, it’s a timely patent–anything that eases the issues
of getting through an airport’s various systems, like this one Apple’s
proposing, would be very welcome.

Kit QR Twitter

To keep up with this news in a more real-time setting, follow me, Kit Eaton, on Twitter. That QR code on the left will take you to my Twitter feed too. (And if you’ve no idea what that spotty-looking thing is, then find out here.)


About the author

I'm covering the science/tech/generally-exciting-and-innovative beat for Fast Company. Follow me on Twitter, or Google+ and you'll hear tons of interesting stuff, I promise. I've also got a PhD, and worked in such roles as professional scientist and theater technician...thankfully avoiding jobs like bodyguard and chicken shed-cleaner (bonus points if you get that reference!)