Apple CarPlay
Apple's Stephen Chick displays the CarPlay program at the Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, California. Reuters

Remotely controlling your car is hardly a new idea, with a number of aftermarket accessories available on the market such as a remote starter. But the technology could eventually make its way into Apple’s CarPlay and its iPhones in the future.

The company was granted a patent titled “Accessory Control With Geo-fencing,” by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday. In Apple’s take on a car accessory, the technology uses a “mobile device” such as an iPhone to control door locks, engine and other car-related functions based on the location of the user and device. But unlike other solutions that only rely on the range of a transmitter to control car functions, the company’s implementation also integrates geo-fencing, a virtual perimeter technology which could be used to start certain car functions based on the user’s location.

Apple USPTO Car iPhone Remote
Apple's patent uses geo-fencing technology to control functions of a car through a mobile phone such as an iPhone Apple/USPTO

A vehicle accessory such as CarPlay would send a signal to an iPhone containing a vCard with its location and then control certain functions based on the set location rules and geo-fences. Examples of such functions include heating control, opening a trunk, activating seat warmers, changing music and more -- all controlled based on the location of the user.

To avoid draining the battery or unnecessarily using the wireless radio transmitter of the iPhone, wireless communication between CarPlay and an iPhone can be controlled if exceeding a certain range or set geo-fence.

Apple Remote Car Function
Car functions could be controlled by an iPhone based off a user's location USPTO/Apple

Apple first filed the patent in June 2012 and credits Sylvain Louboutin of Sunnyvale, California, as the inventor. The company’s CarPlay technology, which was unveiled by Apple in March, integrates iPhones with a number of car interfaces and aftermarket accessories. It’s unknown if or when Apple plans to integrate the technologies described in the granted patent.