Apple car: here are six possible features – including concealed touch controls and holographic images – based on recent patents

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Apple Logo at the Company's Headquarters.JPG The Apple logo at an event at the company’s headquarters in Cupertino.

  • In the last few years, Apple filed a series of vehicle-related patents. 
  • Hyundai and Apple are close to signing a deal to build a “beta” vehicle by next year, according to Reuters
  • Here are six recent Apple patents for vehicle features.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

In last few years, rumors of an Apple car have often popped up.

Some of those reports came from supply chain leaks, but most were from vehicle-related patents filed by the company. In 2017, for example, an Apple patent gave the first hint Apple would make self-driving vehicles

As of last week, Apple and Hyundai were planning to sign a deal to make the first “beta” version of an Apple car in the US by next year, according to Reuters.

One of the biggest unanswered questions is how much control Apple will have over the vehicle design, because the company is most successful when controls every aspect of a product, from concept to delivery, according to Morgan Stanley analysts. 

“This means designing the components and designing every part of the product… how it looks and feels to the consumer, the software and the ecosystem that surrounds those products,” said Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty, according to a research note sent to clients this month. 

While patents offer insight to what final features and product will look like, they’re not a guarantee that every patented idea will make it into the final product.

Here are six recent Apple patents for vehicle features.  

Holographic images on the windshield

Apple Patent 10866414 B2 Holographic Window Display An illustration from “System with Holographic Head-Up Display,” US Patent 10,866,414 B2.

An Apple vehicle might have holographic images displayed on its windshield, according to US Patent 10,866,414 B2, “System with Holographic Head-Up Display,” from December 15, 2020.

In that patent, Apple’s designers described a system that would shoot holographic images onto the windshield or other windows, which would then be reflected back to the driver and passengers. Those images may include information about the vehicle – including “speed, direction, and location” – or information about what’s happening inside, like what song is playing on the radio. 

Concealed touch controls

Apple Patent US 10,656,777 B1 Concealed User Interfaces An illustration from “Concealed User Interfaces,” US Patent 10,656,777 B1.

Touchscreens or other controls may be hidden in seats, doors, and other surfaces, according to US Patent 10,656,777 B1, “Concealed User Interfaces,” from May 19, 2020. 

That patent described ways passengers could tap, touch, or pinch their surroundings. An input device would be “concealed behind a surface” and, when touched, would light up. 

Solutions for motion sickness

Apple Patent US 2020:0258311 Immersive Virtual Display An illustration from “Augmented Virtual Display,” US Patent 10,825,255 B2.

For those who suffer from motion sickness, Apple may be working on a solution, according to US Patent 10,825,255 B2, “Augmented Virtual Display,” from November 3, 2020. 

That patent included a virtual reality system that projected content that appeared stabilized for passengers who experience motion sickness. According to the patent: “The VR system may aid in productivity, as passengers may perform work while riding in the vehicle without experiencing motion sickness.”

An “intelligent” window-tinting system

Apple Patent 10,843,535 B1 System and Method for Dynamic Privacy and Window Tinting November 24 2020 An illustration from “System and Method for Dynamic Privacy and Window Tinting,” US Patent 10,843,535 B1.

Apple designers may be working on controls for privacy glass and tinted windows, according to US Patent 10,843,535 B1, “System and method for dynamic privacy and window tinting,” from November 24, 2020. That patent described a way to “intelligently tint” windows. 

New alerts for drivers

Apple Patent 10,878,699 B2 Wireless Vehicle System for Enhancing Situational Awareness December 29 2020 An illustration from “Wireless Vehicle System for Enhancing Situational Awareness,” US Patent 10,878,699 B2.

Apple vehicles may include new way to send alerts to drivers, according to US Patent 10,878,699 B2, “Wireless Vehicle System for Enhancing Situational Awareness,” from December 29, 2020. 

According to the patent: “Alerts may be presented to a driver of a vehicle and other suitable actions may be taken based on the locations of nearby vehicles, vehicle type information, and other information regarding traffic in the vicinity of the driver.”

The patent’s illustrations included possible alerts that could be sent to the driver, including “Ambulance Passing Pull Over Now” and “Alert Car Passing On Right.” 

A new climate control system

Apple Patent Climate Control 10,875,380 B2 December 29 2020 An illustration from “Climate Control,” US Patent 10,875,380 B2.

Apple vehicles may include new climate controls, according to US Patent 10,875,380 B2, “Climate Control,” from December 29, 2020. 

That patent detailed a way to determine the “optimal comfort conditions” for a wide range of situations. It would include “various vehicle components to control climate conditions, including window assemblies, sunroof assemblies, etc.” It would determine the climate based on “perceived temperature of various occupant body parts,” according to the patent. 

Bastion Balance Seoul, Korea.