Apple filed to patent more than 2,000 ideas last year, and we'll likely never see many of them reach daylight. But, automobile patents are becoming more common from the technology giant. The most recent patents, both awarded in the last couple of weeks, involve a trick sunroof and haptic-feedback seating.
Filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office and published by iDrop News last Thursday, the sunroof and seats slightly reimagine two rather fixed items in an automobile. The sunroof, specifically, would feature "moveable panels with nonlinear tracks."
As for how it works, here's the patent-speak for the sunroof: "The arm pivots with respect to the first track and the second track in correspondence with the lateral spacing between the first track and the second track during movement of the arm along the first track and the second track." Got that?
In layman's terms, the design would allow for a sunroof to open no matter its shape, length, or size, and in the grand scheme of things, such technology would allow a company to create even larger sunroofs. It appears we haven't reached peak sunroof with the popularity of panoramic units.
Apple patent for haptic seats
Moving along to the seats, Apple imagines car seats as more than just a place to, well, sit. Instead, the haptic seats would be customizable and feature a dynamic system to "adjust the comfort and safety levels of the passengers based on data from the car." The company said in its filing that certain seating positions and/or seat-based warnings could alert drivers and passengers to road conditions ahead, as well as possible collisions. Imagine the seat acting as a warning system to give the driver better insight into the dangers on the road, or slightly nudging a drowsy motorist behind the wheel if it detects slumping.
General Motors actually has something like this with its Safety Alert Seat, which vibrates in the direction of potential hazards. For instance, it vibrates on the left side if the vehicle's lane-departure warning system detects that the car is nudging into the lane on the left without the use of a turn signal.
Like all patents, it's unclear if or when we'll see Apple sunroofs or haptic seats. Or even if Apple will ever actually roll out its own "Project Titan" self-driving car.