Putting fragrance dispensers in cars is nothing new. But automakers have yet to add a personal twist that also weaponizes the system -- that is, until a Toyota patent application surfaced.
A recently published patent application from Toyota describes, quite simply, a "vehicle fragrance dispenser system." As the application notes, this system goes above and beyond the current systems by adding a personal twist. It can use mobile devices to determine if a specific occupant is entering the vehicle, at which point it can dispense one of multiple perfumes specific to the occupant's tastes. Current systems only have space for one fragrance in the system at a time.
But wait, there's more. Because some people might have problems with specific fragrances, the system also includes a deodorizer. It can deploy as soon as the occupant leaves the vehicle, returning the car's scent to neutral as it awaits the next occupant, who might not like the last guy's preference for fresh pine or whatever. The system can also dispense fragrances ahead of a person entering the car, filling the car with scent instead of forcing the occupant to wait for the HVAC system to do its thing, like current applications.
So what about the tear gas? Here's where it gets clever. Since the system is built to detect the occupants, if it detects an "illegitimate engine start," as the application says, it can dispense tear gas instead of perfume, likely sending the scofflaw running. Hopefully that deodorizer is capable of removing tear gas from the car, otherwise the actual owner will be in for an eye-opening (and eye-watering) experience later on. Hopefully the trunk has an eye-rinse station.
Of course, the beauty of a patent application is that it allows for some wild thinking without necessarily making it to reality. Some automakers routinely apply to patent technologies to beat competitors to the punch. So, while this system might not appear in your next Toyota, it's good to know that the automaker is thinking about some… unorthodox ways to keep your car safe while also making it smell pretty.