Apple Invents a Large In-Vehicle Smart-Table with multiple Degrees of Freedom that could double as a Large Display and more
Last week the US Patent & Trademark Office published a granted patent for Apple that relates to smart-table for the inside of an autonomous or semi-autonomous vehicle with a movement actuator that is operable to move the table top in the degree of freedom (DOF). The table houses multiple types of sensors including force sensors and could house a display under a glass top that could be used as a large display. Apple also notes that a secondary use for this table could be for a future office or in-home-office with no details on that application.
Technically, Apple notes that in one implementation, a table for a vehicle includes a table top, a movement stage, a movement actuator, a first sensor, a second sensor, and a controller.
The movement stage is coupled to the table top and configured to couple to a body structure of the vehicle. The movement stage is further configured to permit the table top to move in a degree of freedom. The movement actuator is operable to move the table top in the degree of freedom. The first sensor is for receiving a first user input.
The second sensor is for receiving a second user input. The controller operates the movement actuator to move the table top according to the first user input received by the first sensor when the second user input is simultaneously received by the second sensor.
A force sensor will be used to measure a force applied thereto by a user in the degree of freedom. The controller operates the movement actuator to move the table top according to the force measured by the force sensor.
The movement actuator is operable to move the table top relative to the body. The controller operates the movement actuator according to a condition of the vehicle. The vehicle may further include a sensor for sensing a condition of the vehicle that is independent of the table, and the controller operates the movement actuator according to the condition sensed by the sensor.
Apple's patent FIG. 1 below is partial side view of a vehicle having a table; FIG. 2 is a partial top view of the vehicle with an in-cabin table. FIG. 5 is front view of a table of the vehicle of FIGS. 1 and 2 with hidden components illustrated in dashed lines and movable positions of components illustrated in dashed lines.
Apple's FIG. 5 illustrates how a table could be moved forward or backwards to assist passengers getting in or out of the vehicle more easily.
Further, Apple notes that the table top could be formed of a generally rigid material, such as a polymer, a composite, wood, glass, metal, or combination thereof, which is suitable for supporting objects thereon.
In some embodiments, the table top may be formed by or positioned over a display screen. So the table moved to a slant position would allow some passengers to view a display for TV, movie and YouTube content or as a work display.
Apple also contemplates that their smart-table could also be used as an office or home-office table.
Apple's patent FIG. 8 above is a partial top view of the table of FIG. 5 with hidden components illustrated in dashed lines.
Apple's patent FIGS. 10, 11 and 12 illustrates a top view of the table with three distinct sensor arrangements that could be implement on top or at the bottom of the table; FIG. 14 is a flowchart of a method for operating the in-vehicle table.
As with any new project, the first patent may be, as in this case, a more technical focused patent. In a future follow-up patent, Apple may reveal more features associated with the table.
For finer technical details, review Apple's granted patent 11642995.
- Kurt Stiehl: Product Design Director: Special Projects Group
- Tyson Manullang: Product Design Manager
- Athena Huang: Product Design Engineer
Side Note: Our cover graphic is from a 'Rubber News' report.