An interesting patent filed by Apple at the US Patent and Trademark Office reveals a new technology that Apple has been working on that will enable users to be targeted by advertisers based on their proximity to their business.
The patent primarily talks about letting users add their contacts as icons on their Home Screen. This would enable users to quickly access the contact information of their closest pals.
“An icon can be created for a contact (e.g., an individual(s) or an entity) and presented on a user interface of a mobile device, such as a “home screen.” The icon can be used to retrieve and display contact information. The icon can also be used to invoke one or more applications that are personalized to the contact. The icon can be modified to display information related to the contact.”
But the inventors do not stop there. The patent further talks about integrating this technology to let businesses contact people based on their proximity. For example, users around a coffee shop may choose to receive contact information, address and current offers whenever they are near one of those shops. The inventors elaborate on the technology with the help of an example
“In some implementations, a contact 610 can temporarily appear on a mobile device 100 when the mobile device 100 is within a determined proximity of a contact host. The contact host can be a server or device operated by an individual, entity or service capable of providing the icon and related application information. In the present example, the contact host is a server operated by a coffee house called “Rocket Java”. An alert can be presented on the mobile device 100 to indicate that a temporary contact or application is available to the mobile device 100. In one example, the alert can have two options: “dismiss” and “view contact.” After the contact has been viewed, other options can be presented, including options like “add to local contacts” or “save to the home screen.” The selection of these options by the user results in the contact being added to an address book application or the home screen, respectively.”
The inventors write that the contact can be established via any of the wired or wireless communications, including bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GPS,etc.
While this does sound interesting, the latter part to let advertisers contact you based on proximity does not actually sound plausible. For an instance, consider a scenario where a user approaching a mall is contacted by several dozens of retailers in the area. Does it sound like a nice deal to receive so many pop-up notifications in the blink of an eye?