Apple patent explained: the Kalman filter

The USPTO just published yet another of Apple’s patent applications in relation to its new Maps feature known as the Kalman filter. The latter has a large purpose in the world of technology, including common applications in the area of navigation and control of vehicles. As per the patent, this is the exact purpose Apple intends to use the filter for.

Apple will be using traditional technologies for its mapping including GPS systems, visual-inertial odometry models, and inertial measurement units. Now, this all appears complicated, however, with the use of the Kalman filter, the feature would extract all three of the systems’ most beneficial inputs and construct them as one, highly accurate means of navigation. This will be sure to increase the accuracy of mapping information such as the location of an Apple device or even locations of persons and vehicles

In an overall sense, the design of the filter appears to be very fast, accurate, and is ideal for systems that are experiencing continuous changes. One of the very first applications of the filter was in fact for NASA’s Apollo project. If it is good enough to provide accurate directions in space, it’s good enough for Apple.

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