The patent's assignee for patent number 8745516 is
News editors obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "This invention generally relates to systems and methods for organizing, managing, and graphically displaying multiple logically related entities and, more specifically, in one embodiment, to systems and methods for the real time organization and display of clusters of tracked vehicles in connection with a geographical map.
"As the use of electronic maps to display information has increased in popularity, so has the volume and complexity of information to be displayed. Accordingly, it has become more and more difficult to take in the wide range of data that may be overlaid and viewed on maps without the viewer becoming confused or overwhelmed by the display.
"This problem is acutely expressed in the field of map-based or location-based services and tools, where the ever increasingly detailed nature of the information to be displayed, together with the potentially limitless number of sources from which data is gathered, combine to make it extremely challenging to display such information on a map in a logical manner that is accessible and useful to viewers. For instance, the management of large numbers of people and equipment involves obtaining timely information about location, status, and potential alarm conditions. Management preferably wants to be able to observe when and where scheduled events have occurred and how schedules and status have changed since the previous observations, but doing so in prior systems was difficult if not impossible with so much data available. For example, in the field of fleet management, it is desirable to know the status of vehicles in a fleet, where the vehicles currently are, whether the vehicles are operating properly, etc. For fleets with hundreds or thousands of vehicles, such information quickly became overwhelming when accessed through a map-based interface.
"Developers have attempted to facilitate the ease of use of such map-based displays by allowing viewers to zoom in and out of the maps at issue; however, this is often an ineffective solution since the problem of viewing an overwhelming amount of data is only amplified as the viewer zooms out to get a more general picture of the data. As a result, in order to make sense of the displayed data, the viewer's only choice is to zoom in so far on the map that important information is no longer displayed onscreen. Other systems simply operate too slowly to meet the demands of full time asset management."
As a supplement to the background information on this patent, VerticalNews correspondents also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent: "The present embodiments overcome these and other deficiencies of the prior art by providing systems and methods for smart zooming that cluster geographically or spatially related information together to create useful overlays of data to facilitate the management of such information. In some embodiments, the information pertains to vehicles being tracked. In some embodiments, the systems and methods provide the real-time display of status and location information for a fleet of tracked vehicles. In some embodiments, the systems and methods permit the automatic clustering of assets based on a user's view of an underlying map, which change dynamically as a user zooms in or out of a map. In some embodiments, the assets are vehicles that are a part of a managed fleet. In some embodiments, the assets are logically arranged into clusters of like assets. In some embodiments, the clusters provide graphical indications of status or class information of their underlying assets.
"In some embodiments, a method for displaying information pertaining to a plurality of geographically related assets is provided. The method includes receiving information pertaining to a plurality of assets; selecting the assets from the plurality of assets that are geographically related; forming a cluster comprising the selected assets; and providing a graphical user interface comprising a geographic map and the cluster. In some embodiments, the assets, are geographically related if the physical location of the assets are within a geographic area defined by a virtual bounding area. In some embodiments, the cluster is overlayed on the geographic map in the geographic area defined by the bounding area. In some embodiments, the cluster displays on the graphical user interface at least one item of information pertaining to the selected assets. In some embodiments, the assets are vehicles. The information pertaining to the plurality of assets is, in some embodiments, updated in real time. In some embodiments, at least one item of information is a chart displaying status information for the selected assets. In some embodiments, at least one item of information is a chart displaying the class information for the selected assets. In some embodiments, at least one item of information is a numerical indication of the number of selected assets. In some embodiments, the graphical user interface displays the virtual bounding area. In some embodiments, the method also includes adding the cluster to a new cluster if a user of the graphical user interface zooms out from the geographic map. In some embodiments, the method also includes splitting the cluster into a plurality of clusters if a user of the graphical user interface zooms in on the geographic map.
"In some embodiments, a method for splitting a cluster of assets is provided, where each asset has pixel coordinates based on its geospatial location and in reference to a virtual area representing an end user's display. The method, in some embodiments, comprises identifying the coordinates of each asset; dividing the virtual area into slots; grouping the assets into the slots based on each assets' pixel coordinates; and generating new clusters, wherein each new cluster comprises at least one asset and comprises every asset which was grouped into the same slot.
"In some embodiments, a method for clustering assets is provided. The method, in some embodiments, includes generating pixel coordinates for each asset based on the asset's geospatial location and in reference to a virtual area representing an end user's display; determining an icon shape with specific pixel dimensions for use in connection with each asset; querying a data structure with the icon shape for each asset; adding an asset as a new cluster in the data structure if the area defined by the pixel dimensions of the asset's icon shape, when centered over the asset's pixel coordinates, does not overlap with the area covered by another cluster in the data structure; and adding an asset to an existing cluster in the data structure if the area defined by the pixel dimensions of the asset's icon shape, when centered over the asset's pixel coordinates, overlaps with the area covered by the existing cluster."
For additional information on this patent, see: Mason, Ralph; Koch, Jason. Real Time Map Rendering with Data Clustering and Expansion and Overlay. U.S. Patent Number 8745516, filed
Keywords for this news article include:
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