Apple's Car Patents: A Breakdown
10:18

Apple's Car Patents: A Breakdown

Tech
Speaker 1: All right now we're gonna get into some fun stuff. Hello, I'm Robert Sachs. I'm a patent attorney. I've been practicing in the Silicon valley for over 30 years. I've represented lots of companies, you know, his name of 'em and some of them, you don't cuz they were startups and they crashed and burned today. We're gonna be looking at some patents from apple in their car portfolio. I'm gonna explain what the patents are about and then gives some insights into the technology. So, first off, I'm gonna show you some examples of how apple illustrates cars in its patents. So as you can see in these examples here, uh, [00:00:30] apple tends to represent cars in a very boxy way. Now don't know whether that's to actually hide what they're actually designing or cuz they just don't have a good sense of what a real car should look like. Speaker 1: I have a sense that their overall portfolio is to make driving less fun for humans. So making cars to be very utilitarian is possibly part of their ethic. If this is the future of apple product design for cars, well I'm gonna be sticking with real car manufacturers who make nice, smooth and curvy looking cars. The first patent I'm gonna look at is for a charging station. [00:01:00] Now EVs are obviously a big thing and Apple's car is gonna be an electric car. And one of the key problems is having to park your car, get outta the car, go to the charger, unhook the charger, and then plug it into your car. Apple realizes. And this is a pretty good insight that it's just much more convenient. You could just back your car up and plug right into the charging station by itself. So what they have here on the left, you have this cant lever and it moves up and down and it fits right into this port. Speaker 1: That's on the back of your car on the right hand side. So you back up [00:01:30] the car, the can leader, adjusts and slides right in and locks together. And that's a pretty nifty, that's a very practical thing that claims here are actually very narrow. However, and that's what defines the scope of the invention. So this is not gonna stop Tesla. It's a great idea. It's gonna be one of their portfolio builders. Now I tend to think however that apple was inspired by some already existing technology, uh, that we've seen, uh, through the years. Wow. Moving on. Then this next patent we're gonna look at is for a holographic [00:02:00] heads up display inside of a car. Uh, the idea is that you have a heads up display on the side window as opposed to the front window, which we're used to. And that way, when you look out the window, they can have images displayed and in information displayed over on top of what you're seeing, you can see, this is the shape of the car. Speaker 1: Rather awkwardly shaped. Uh, you have a display unit which would be a laser system, for example, on the bottom, inside the door. And then the door itself here is curved and the window glass has holographic elements [00:02:30] in it. And the laser light shoots up, hits the glass and then is bounced off the glass towards your eye. Now this little thing here in the middle, that's apparently the viewer with just very oddly shaped head and a single eye. Uh, I tend to think that looks more like one of our friends from history, uh, GORT, if you remember him, Speaker 1: But any be, I don't think this is such a practical idea to have holographic elements inside a side glass window. Uh, how much would this cost? This would be [00:03:00] hundreds of thousands of dollars to put holographic elements in a side window. And as you know, well, cars get hit all the time. They get smashed into and having to replace a laser system and a holographic window in a door. That's just gonna add cost to the car. This would be hundreds of thousands of dollars in a car. I just don't see this as being a very practical invention Speaker 1: In this next patent. Apple takes the idea of a heads up display even further with a 3d augmented reality display. The idea here [00:03:30] is that they would project onto your windshield, a 3d representation of the environment as you're moving through it. And the key thing is they display markers of the route that you are on, even though those markers would be behind, they'd be occluded from what you could see, or they're too far ahead to be detected by the sensors. So what you have here, you can see the heads up display and they have both these, what are called out of range, indications and occlusion indications, these little circles along the route [00:04:00] that you're traveling head. So if you're heading through the mountain side, even though you couldn't see the road, they can illustrate the road on the display in real time and then put markers to show you that part of the route is behind the hill or behind a building or a tree. Speaker 1: And the key thing here is, as you can see, have a bit of the, the text of the pattern here, that's essential. And that has to show that the virtual content has corresponding indications of occluded portions of the scene. So those things you can't see, that's too far down the road and also corresponding indications [00:04:30] of distance portions that are out of range of any of the sensors that you have on the car. Combining tech technology from both 3d imaging of what the car is seeing and database information of the environment the car is in. So it's again, a clever idea, helpful. Something that I think would be beneficial to drivers Speaker 1: In this next apple patent that deals with car technology. They're addressing a problem that is really well understood and that's glare as we're driving. We have headlights coming at us. The sun is in our eyes. [00:05:00] We get reflections from behind us. All of that is glare and can be very distracting to a driver. What apple has done here is to create a multi-layer mirror or window that has a number of different active layers in it. As it illustrated here, you have this photo chromatic layer and that's the layer that light bounces off of and goes back to your eyes. So that's the mirror part, but behind that, you have a layer of UV emitting LEDs. Those are in purple here. And then behind that you have another layer of different colored LEDs, white LEDs. [00:05:30] And the idea is that there is a camera system that is observing where your eyes are looking at any time. Speaker 1: And based on that, the UV system can turn on and then selectively darkened parts of the photo chromatic layer. Then when you're not looking there, or the glare is gone, the white light system turns on and bleaches that darkness out. So it returns to its normal. So it's an active system. It detects where you're looking and based on that, can, can selectively control or darken parts of this mirror to reduce [00:06:00] the glare. This is a very useful technology, clearly beneficial to the driver. It can be deployed inside mirrors. It can be deployed inside windows, very practical, how much cost is gonna add into a car? However, that's another story entirely. Speaker 1: Now we're gonna look at another safety related technology in Apple's portfolio. And that has to do with airbags in Apple's world. People are more passengers in cars than they are drivers, and they will be sitting together either facing each other typically. And that creates a different type of physical environment than normal [00:06:30] row oriented, where you're sitting behind someone. So when you're facing someone, how do you have an airbag system that can deploy and keep those people from slamming into each other in case there's a car accident? What we see here is two airbags. What apple calls cross cabin airbags one would be for example, in the left door and one would be in the right side door and they face each other. When there's an accident, the airbags deploy and they open towards each other and they have a special shape here. It shows one has a protrusion and one has a depression and [00:07:00] they interlock together. Speaker 1: And this stops the passengers from falling so far forward that they actually hit the other passenger on the other side. So this is something of a clever idea. It would certainly increase the safety of cars that said again, this kind of goes to, you're more just a passenger car. You're no longer kind of actively a driver. It's an interesting patent. There's lots of solutions to this. This one's much more limited, but it's still a good idea. One of the themes in Apple's patents for cars, if you are a passenger, it's not enough just to observe where you are. The city that [00:07:30] you're in, the beautiful landscape know you have to be entertained. And that means virtual reality. So in this patent, as we see here, you have two passengers facing each other, but not in conversation, mind you nor on their phones. Rather they have their VR headsets on and the system is generating virtual content. Speaker 1: And this virtual content is a route through some other location. So let's say you're driving through San Francisco, you have your VR headset on and you are seeing a street tour through London. [00:08:00] The key thing about this is that the motions of the car that you're actually in are then synchronized to the simulated environment. So as you are going up Hills in San Francisco, they would have Hills in London. So this is a, a synchronization of the real reality with the virtual reality. Now the key thing here, however, is not merely the synchronization it's that you have to have spurt specific cues. So the patent requires that virtual content has different visual cues [00:08:30] representing changes in upcoming elevation changes, and that there are auditory cues, beeps tones giving you auditory cues of changes in elevation. So, you know, not just what you can see that's happening. Speaker 1: You're gonna go up. You're gonna go down, but you can hear it as well. So interesting concept, pretty limited. I could see that if other companies were gonna do this, they could get around that without providing those auditory cues, for example. But again, the bigger picture is this notion of taking all the fun out of driving [00:09:00] you're in the car, you should be engaged with your passengers. You should be looking at the beautiful landscape. No you're in VR world. So this is just not something that I think is really about the love of driving. It's just more entertainment. One thing about this is the underlying premise of patents like this it's that humans don't like to drive and they don't wanna see where they are. Uh, this is the demise of the road trip, the joy of driving the, just of going out and seeing the world, seeing something you haven't seen before. Speaker 1: No, that that's [00:09:30] too dull. So what we get instead from this patent we're told is that passengers may choose to have a relaxing virtual experiences while riding a vehicle such as floating down a river or soaring over a landscape in a hang glider or exciting virtual experience, such as a car chase or driving through a postapocalyptic wasteland with zombies attacking or anything in between. Anything other that actually being present, where you are and enjoying what you're seeing right there. And then this is not the kind of technology that I think is really what we need, what we need is safer, more reliable. [00:10:00] And I hope faster cars. Thank you for watching experts react. If you like the content, please subscribe to C net's YouTube channel. And if you have an opinion or a comment, and I'm sure you do, please leave them below. Thanks for watching.

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