Apple keeps applying for and being granted patents for vehicles even though the company has yet to announce that it is working on an autonomous electric vehicle.
The latest move by the most valued company on its rumored Apple Car was to get a patent for a Virtual Reality (VR) system for vehicles to tackle the problem of motion sickness for passengers from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
The patented system is designed to be used in autonomous vehicles that have no windows, with the user's VR headset providing them with a view of the road that they're on if needed to soothe the motion sickness.
The vehicle's VR system will also allow users to hold virtual meetings on the road. Other experiences could involve having fun, such as playing VR games, reading a book, or inviting friends and families to be their virtual travel companions.
What is VR?
VR allows users to experience and/or interact with an immersive artificial environment, such that the user feels as if they were physically in that environment. Virtual reality systems may display stereoscopic scenes to users to create an illusion of depth. A computer may adjust the scene content in real-time to provide the illusion of the user moving within the scene. When the user views images through a virtual reality system, the user may thus feel as if they are moving within the settings from the first-person point of view. Similarly, mixed reality (MR) combines computer-generated information (referred to as virtual content) with real-world images or a real-world view to augment or add content to a user's view of the world.
Embodiments of a VR system are described that may implement VR methods, for example, to address problems with vehicles in motion that may result in motion sickness for the passengers. Vehicle motions may be integrated into the virtual experiences to help prevent motion sickness. In some embodiments, active vehicle systems and/or vehicle control systems within constraints may be integrated with the VR system to provide physical effects with the virtual experience. Rushing wind or heat through the HVAC system, surround sound, and sound effects through the audio system, and acceleration or motion effects through the seat are some of the examples.
In the patent application, Apple further describes that passengers would be able to choose to have relaxing virtual experiences and visualize themselves riding through another actual location, like the capitals of culture of the world, or having exciting virtual experiences to their liking, such as a car chase or driving through a post-apocalyptic wasteland.
As Apple has yet to confirm that the company is working on an autonomous electric vehicle, we’ll have to wait and see what Apple comes out with over the coming years. Meanwhile, some rumors claim it could be ready by 2024. Apple is also feeding those rumors by hiring executives from other automakers.
Of course, the company first needs to reassure both customers and safety agencies that removing the steering wheel is a good idea.