Palm (s PALM) is applying for a U.S. patent centered around the concept of notifying a mobile device based on the proximity of another one. Such a feature could come in handy when you happen to be within range of a friend and you don’t know it. The patent was filed in March 2009, but just recently published online (found via GoRumors).
Meanwhile, Apple (s AAPL) is applying for a patent on a similar concept: “Geographic location data is sent from a first device to a second device with a modified message to signal the presence of geographic location data associated with the message,” according to the filing made in June 2008.
It’s funny that both Apple and Palm (who share a love for rolling in the IP mud) think they can patent this concept — it seems like a fairly natural extension of location awareness, and it’s something companies have been trying to do for years. Google (s GOOG), for instance, has a beta feature of its Latitude product that alerts you when your friends are nearby. Maybe the only reason the idea seems novel is because none of these products have gone mainstream yet. But that doesn’t mean additional companies aren’t still setting out with the same concept. For instance, we received this pitch yesterday:
MOSION (pronounced [moh-shuh n] is the latest in real time location based social network for the smartphone. While many social networks aim to connect you with your friends, what about the people you do not know? Yes, those sitting across from you at this very moment!