Apple Patent Application Aims to Put VR Systems in Autonomous Cars

Apple’s patents might not be a clear indicator of what’s actually going to be a product anytime soon, but it does at least present a clear look at some of Apple’s lofty ideas.

The latest patent application, which was originally filed by Apple back in September of 2017 and published by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) this week, indicates that Apple has at least toyed with the idea of creating virtual reality (VR) systems and implanting them within self-driving, or autonomous vehicles. The patent application was first reported by VentureBeat.

Interestingly enough, the thing that Apple is trying to fix with this VR system in a moving vehicle is motion sickness, with the patent application is described as meant to “address problems with vehicles in motion that may result in motion sickness for passengers”. To do that, Apple wants to create the system to replace views of the real world in motion around the vehicle, with virtual environments.

The application also makes note of a controller, and a mechanism to project animated images onto the vehicle’s windows. Those visuals would then sync in real-time with an “active seat” and corresponding motion sensors. That would mean the virtual environments on display would react to what the car is doing in the real world. So something in that VR environment would turn to the right when the car turns to the right, and stop when the car stops.

The VR system would also be capable of handling meetings, too, with avatars positioned around tables.

And (VR) zombies might be included, too:

“Passengers may choose to have relaxing virtual experiences … such as floating down a river or soaring over the landscape in a hang glider, or exciting virtual experiences such as a car chase or driving through a post-apocalyptic wasteland with zombies attacking … if the vehicle stops at a red light or for some other reason when fleeing zombies … the virtual experience may cause the vehicle to appear to stall and not allow the car to be restarted until the light turns green to build suspense.”

These experiences wouldn’t be for a single person in the car, either. As noted in the hang-gliding experience mentioned in the application, “The passengers may drop virtual water balloons onto features in the environment”, and this could be enjoyed by others in the vehicle, too.

Our Take

This is something that is not anywhere close to being a real product or vision within self-driving vehicles. Especially in light of a couple different tragic accidents in recent weeks. Still, one day, when autonomous driving is the standard and not the fringe, maybe something like this would make sense.

What do you think of the idea?

[via VentureBeat]