Apple Car could hide pop-up displays in dash behind interior panels

The rumored fake Apple car may include displays and indicators that are hidden inside the car by special coating layers, while another design for its sunroof suggests that the panel could change translucency when open.

Apple is expected to work on its own vehicle, with the myriad of Apple Car rumors over the years perpetuated by a steady stream of patent filings in the field. As with those published in the past, Apple is apparently offering a radical overhaul of fairly standard elements used in vehicle design, which could result in an extremely modern car when it is released.

A patent granted to Apple on Tuesday by the United States Patent and Trademark Office entitled “Cosmetic Integration of Screens” suggests that it would be possible to change the way screens appear in a vehicle. Typically used for navigation systems and multimedia playback, current displays are fairly obvious in their placement in a vehicle, but Apple suggests that they could be hidden.

At its heart, Apple suggests using a cover layer for a screen that hides it from view as part of the overall design of the vehicle. The cover could include a number of elements, such as force and contact sensors to accept input, and electronic shutters.

A variety of coating materials and perforations for displays
A variety of coating materials and perforations for displays

The cover itself could be coated to appear to be made of leather, fabric, wood, plastic, metal, fiber composite and other substances, indicating that the idea would work for a wide variety of designs. vehicle interior. Above all, the cover would allow light to pass through, either by using extremely thin layers of the outer covering material, or by including perforations.

Haptic feedback could be provided using actuators connected to the cover layer, while the touch sensors would overlap the display in the same layer. It is suggested that these elements could take advantage of the properties of the covering material as part of their installation, for example by using conductive strands for a fabric-based covering.

The shutter could be combined with a light modulator to serve as a base layer for a transparent display, giving the assembly another way of managing whether or not light passes through the cover layer.

An illustration of a movable button distorting a cover
An illustration of a movable button distorting a cover

Physical controls could also be offered as part of the display, at least for flexible coverings, by the use of a movable button. The mechanism could push the button forward, allowing it to protrude outward and alert a passenger to its position.

The patent lists its inventors like Romain A. Teil, Jack J. Wanderman, Dominic P. Cincione and Sawyer I. Cohen.

This is not the first time that Apple has offered to hide the indicators when designing a car. Proposals for a smart seat include built-in screens that could tell passengers how to use its features or buckle up, while fiber optic loops could offer indicators that light up, but then become virtually invisible in the interior panels of the car when not in use.

Sunroof designs

A second patent for “sets of movable panels” concerns the sunroof of the vehicle. It’s a well-worn territory for Apple, but the version proposed in the patent is closer to the conventional sunroof design than previous efforts.

In this latest version, Apple offers some tweaks that could improve the overall design.

In one version, there is the proposal of the sunroof window having a variable translucency zone which is controllable. The panel could switch between different transparency states depending on the movement of the panel, for example by becoming more transparent when open and opaque when closed.

A waterproofing structure could also be used on the sliding panel, allowing it to attach more securely to the roof of the car when closed. When engaged, the sealing structure can help prevent rain droplets from entering the vehicle.

A third iteration could have the roof sporting an opening, which could again switch between the open and closed positions. The opening in the roof would have a cover which could open to allow the sunroof to penetrate when needed, so that it could slide into the roof itself, but otherwise it would enclose the roof cavity.

An example of a sunroof penetrating a ceiling cavity in a car
An example of a sunroof penetrating a ceiling cavity in a car

The file identifies a long list of people as its inventors, consisting of Philipp J. Wolf, Samuel G. Fowle, Donald R. Monroe, John Raff, Antonio B. Martinez, Albert J. Golko, Ali Tavakoli Targhi, David J. Donohue , David E. Kingman and Ibuki Kamei.

A previous patent bearing the same name suggested a more radical sunroof system, consisting of a multi-panel roof capable of fitting flush with the rear and front roof sections. Mounted on rails, the panels could be slid back and forth, tilted forward and backward for stacking purposes, or could even be brought inside the vehicle.

Another sunroof patent entitled “Panels movable on non-linear rails” proposed the idea of ​​a large sunroof sliding backwards along a car roof. The key element of the patent is that the sunroof would remain positioned on the center line of the car, despite potentially divergent panel rails along an angular bodywork.

Apple files numerous patent applications on a weekly basis, but although the existence of a filing indicates areas of interest for Apple’s research and development efforts, this does not guarantee that the concepts described will appear in a future product or service.

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