What it is: Apple patented a road side navigation rendering invention most likely as part of Apple Maps.
If you look at the above image from Apple’s latest patent filing, you can see that it displays road signs as part of showing you directions on a map. Most likely this is part of Apple’s update to Apple Maps, but it could also be related to Apple’s augmented reality efforts as well.
When using Apple Maps, this patent could display street names to help you navigate, but most drivers will rely on audio instructions since it allows them to keep their eyes on the road. However for augmented reality, such rendering of street names and other landmarks can be more valuable because you can hold your iPhone or iPad up in the air and see exactly which direction you should be heading to get to your desired destination.
For example, suppose you’re walking through an airport. Instead of displaying street names, augmented reality could display store names or building names to help you navigate through your surroundings. Toss in the idea of smart glasses and you’ll be able to see where you’re going without having to hold an iPhone or iPad at all.
Apple’s patents give you a clue what they’re working on for the future. While not all patents turn into products, they do point to what Apple is working on. This latest patent shows that displaying street names in real-time can be handy and useful for directions and augmented reality. You may see more of this patent in coming Apple products soon.