The 'Apple Car' may be able to detect, warn drivers of cracked windows

The Apple Car can alert drivers to chips and cracks in the windshield and other windows, with a system that uses infrared light to determine if there are problems with the glass, as well as give a warning. early to prevent small cracks from getting bigger.

The cases where a windshield breaks is one of the inescapable problems of driving. Chips and cracks can develop on a windshield from rocks and other debris flying through glass at high speed, with damage ranging from small nicks to larger and potentially dangerous cracks.

While small damage might seem reasonable, a sudden shake of the window could easily make the crack worse. Additionally, cracks could allow air and moisture to pass through the glass, which in layered systems like a heating element film for a rear window could affect the electronics.

In a patent issued Tuesday by Apple by the US Patent and Trademark Office titled “Window Crack Detection Systems,” Apple specifically targets vehicle windows, although the same systems can easily be used in other areas. , such as the windows of houses.

The patent suggests that the window could have an infrared light blocking layer, which is connected by a conductive layer on top, as well as a control circuit. The circuit has the ability to apply ohmic heating currents to windows, making them warm.

The conductive layer performs two tasks, it is used for resistance measurements and to aid in ohmic heating.

Along the edges of the window are segmented terminals made of elongated metal strips, which are used to apply the ohmic heating current. These same bands are also suitable for performing electrical measurements of emissions from other terminals transmitted through the conductive layer.

When a crack forms in a window, it shatters parts of the glass layer sandwich, which in turn affects how the conductive layer passes electricity to other terminals. Specifically, the changes in the conductive layer introduce resistance, which is then measured.

A crack can interfere with other layers of the glass stack.

A crack can interfere with other layers of the glass stack.

By using multiple terminal blocks around the exterior, the system can create a resistance map across the surface of the glass and can determine the general position, size and possibly shape of the cracked area. By selectively turning the terminals on and off, this map could focus more on the cracked area and provide increased detail for the system to use.

The patent lists its inventors as Martin Melcher, Christopher D. Jones and James R. Wilson. The application was filed on July 14, 2017.

Apple files numerous patent applications every week, but while the existence of a patent indicates areas of interest to Apple’s research teams, it does not guarantee the existence of the idea in a future product or service.

Obviously, the patent has its primary use for the Apple Car, the vehicle designed by Apple for a long time, but it may be of more use than some realize. Apple has filed numerous patent applications for car-related ideas that involve the glass and the windshield itself, each easily benefiting from a system that detects damage to the glass.

In August, he obtained a patent to integrate a screen into a car window, while in 2019 he suggested adding fiber optic elements to the windows. An earlier filing gave more of an idea of ​​Apple’s vision for the Apple car, with an AR view for the driver showing the route to follow.

Away from the windshield, Apple also considered creating a “sunroof” with automatically tinted windows, again relying on layers in the windows to adjust transparency. A patent for “synchronized windows” suggested using a liquid crystal layer working in combination with internal light to cool and prevent internal light from being emitted by the vehicle, while still allowing passengers to see the exterior.

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