- In the last few years, Apple filed a series of vehicle-related patents.
- Hyundai and Apple are close to signing a deal to build a “beta” vehicle by next year, according to Reuters.
- Here are six recent Apple patents for vehicle features.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
In last few years, rumors of an Apple car have often popped up, usually after the company filed a vehicle-related patent.
In 2017, for example, an Apple patent gave the first hint Apple would make self-driving vehicles. As of last week, Apple and Hyundai were planning to sign a deal to make the first “beta” version of an Apple car in the US by next year, according to Reuters. It would be just one of several big bets the company makes in the next decade, and could face stiff competition from other EVs.
Wall Street analysts said Apple would have a few key advantages, in part because of its strong brand. One big unanswered question was whether Apple would have complete control over the vehicle design, according to Morgan Stanley analysts. The company has been most successful when it controls every aspect of a product, from concept to delivery.
“This means designing the components and designing every part of the product… how it looks and feels to the consumer, the software and the ecosystem that surrounds those products,” said Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty, according to a research note sent to clients this month.
While patents offer insight to what final features may look like, there’s no guarantee that every patented idea will make it into a final product.
Here are six recent Apple patents for vehicle features.
Holographic images on the windshield
An Apple vehicle might have holographic images displayed on its windshield, according to US Patent 10,866,414 B2, “System with Holographic Head-Up Display.”
In that patent, Apple’s designers described a system that would shoot holographic images onto the windshield or other windows, which would then be reflected back to the driver and passengers. Those images may include information about the vehicle – including “speed, direction, and location” – or information about what’s happening inside, like what song is playing on the radio.
Concealed touch controls
Touchscreens or other controls may be hidden in seats, doors, and other surfaces, according to US Patent 10,656,777 B1, “Concealed User Interfaces.”
That patent described ways passengers could tap, touch, or pinch their surroundings. An input device would be “concealed behind a surface” and, when touched, would light up.
Solutions for motion sickness
For those who suffer from motion sickness, Apple may be working on a solution, according to US Patent 10,825,255 B2, “Augmented Virtual Display.”
That patent included a virtual reality system to project stabilized content for passengers who experience motion sickness. According to the patent: “The VR system may aid in productivity, as passengers may perform work while riding in the vehicle without experiencing motion sickness.”
An “intelligent” window-tinting system
Apple designers may be working on controls for privacy glass and tinted windows, according to US Patent 10,843,535 B1, “System and Method for Dynamic Privacy and Window Tinting.”
That patent described a way to “intelligently tint” windows.
New alerts for drivers
Apple vehicles may include new ways to send alerts to drivers, according to US Patent 10,878,699 B2, “Wireless Vehicle System for Enhancing Situational Awareness.”
According to the patent: “Alerts may be presented to a driver of a vehicle and other suitable actions may be taken based on the locations of nearby vehicles, vehicle type information, and other information regarding traffic in the vicinity of the driver.”
The patent’s illustrations included possible alerts that could be sent to the driver, including “Ambulance Passing Pull Over Now” and “Alert Car Passing On Right.”
A new climate control system
Apple vehicles may include new climate controls, according to US Patent 10,875,380 B2, “Climate Control.”
That patent detailed a way to determine the “optimal comfort conditions” for a wide range of situations.
It would include “various vehicle components to control climate conditions, including window assemblies, sunroof assemblies, etc.” It would determine the climate based on “perceived temperature of various occupant body parts,” according to the patent.