Apple wins a Project Titan patent for a Car Seat system designed to provide occupants with a superior ride experience
Apple's Project Titan is one of Apple's most secretive long-term projects that relates to reinventing vehicles for the electric car era where semi-autonomous and fully autonomous vehicles will be common. Today, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially granted Apple Inc. yet another Project Titan related patent titled "Adaptive tensile surface," which covers a new car seat system that is designed to provide occupants with a superior ride experience.
Patent Background: Seats such as automobile seats and office desk chairs are typically equipped with contoured seats. Some car seats provide seat positioning adjustments, lumbar support, or leg support extensions that are selectively engaged by a driver or passenger. Such features offer a more comfortable ride, especially on long trips, or, in the case of desk chairs, a more comfortable work environment.
Over time, the trim (e.g., fabric) that covers the seat contours becomes worn, stretched out, or otherwise fatigued. Trim fatigue is especially problematic for car seats with bolsters because car seats are heavily used and passengers rub against the bolsters when entering and exiting the seat. Furthermore, many car seats include leather trim, which has limited elasticity. Manufacturers often address the issues of trim fatigue dividing seats and seat backs into sections that are covered separately, stitched, or quilted, so as to reduce material strain.
Apple's patent titled "Adaptive tensile surface" covers an adaptive tensile control system which comprises: a covering over at least a portion of a seat; and a motorized retractor coupled to the covering, the motorized retractor including one or more electric motors operable to: release the covering in response to a first control signal, and retract the covering in response to a second control signal, different from the first control signal.
The patent also covers an adaptive seat suspension system which comprises: a flexible suspension mat providing support in a seat; and a motorized retractor coupled to the flexible suspension mat, the motorized retractor including one or more electric motors operable to: release the flexible suspension mat in response to a first control signal, and retract the flexible suspension mat in response to a second control signal, different from the first control signal.
In accordance with some embodiments, the device comprises: a seat; an inflatable bolster within the seat, the seat having a covering that covers the inflatable bolster; a spool mounted below the seat; an electric motor coupled to the spool; and a spool sensor configured to: detect a change in spool tension; and transmit a control signal to the electric motor, the control signal causing the electric motor to: rotate the spool in a forward direction so as to automatically wind the covering onto the spool as the spool tension decreases, and counter-rotate the spool in a reverse direction so as to automatically let out the covering from the spool as the spool tension increases.
In addition, the patent covers a motorized retractor system which comprises: first and second spools mechanically coupled to one another by a fabric having a first end wound around the first spool and a second end wound around the second spool; a first electric motor coupled to the first spool; a second electric motor coupled to the second spool; a tension sensor mounted on each of the first spool and the second spool, the tension sensors configured to transmit control signals to the electric motors, the control signals causing the electric motors to: rotate the spools concurrently in opposite directions so as to wind fabric onto the spools when the spool tension sensors detect a decrease in spool tension; and counter-rotate the spools concurrently in opposite directions so as to release fabric from the spools when the spool tension sensors detects an increase in spool tension.
Apple's patent FIG. 4 below is a front pictorial view of a seat equipped with an adaptive tensile control system that includes a motorized retractor; FIG. 5 is a block diagram of an adaptive tensile control system; FIG. 6 is a pictorial view of a seat equipped with inflatable bolsters; and FIG. 11 is a front pictorial view of a seat equipped with an adaptive tensile control system that includes a fixed end.