Auto Tech

Tesla patent application looks at a sunroof with integrated lighting, dimming

None of these parts are necessarily new, but together, they would be.

Patent drawings eschew flashy graphics in favor of straightforward diagrams that actually explain how the system works.

USPTO

Patent applications give us a look into what's going on behind the scenes at an automaker, as their employees come up with ideas that could make their way into future vehicles. Tesla's latest patent application shows that the future could be looking very bright -- or dim, depending on your preference.

Electrek clued us into one of Tesla's recently published patent applications for an "advanced sunroof lighting system." The application outlines a sunroof sandwiched with a variety of layers that give an otherwise normal piece of glass a few different advantages. The first of these is a layer of electrically controllable dimming material that is able to limit the amount of light that enters through the sunroof. This has the obvious benefit of preventing sunlight from messing with a driver's vision or a passenger's comfort.

The second advantage comes from creating its own light sources. Embedded within the sunroof is yet another layer that is capable of generating light. This way, the sunroof can still provide limited illumination in the cabin when an exterior source isn't present, and its color and intensity adjustability allow the light to convey different aesthetics. All of it is controllable through, presumably, the infotainment screen.

As far as I know, this is the first sunroof that attempts to include both of these innovations in a single piece of glass. The industry already has both separate systems in cars -- Mercedes-Benz's Magic Sky Control features an electric dimmer in the sunroof's glass, while BMW's Sky Lounge embeds LED lighting within the sunroof.

Don't necessarily expect this tech to show up in Tesla's future cars, though. All manner of technology gets pushed through the patent process, only to exist on some shelf for all eternity, because the patent only existed to prevent competitors from rolling out such a feature. But in terms of patent tech that seems feasible enough to make it to production without costing too much, Tesla's sunroof tech seems like a good'un.