Apple Wins cool Car Patent for Backseat Passenger Interfaces that are hidden in the seats, Side Panels & more
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 61 newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today. In this particular report we cover Apple's invention relating to the field of user interfaces and more specifically, to a future Apple Car user interfaces that are designed for the backseat passenger area where most of the User Interfaces are invisible when not in use and lit up in an aesthetically appealing manner when in use. The UI controls could be in the passenger seat, the side panels and even the flooring.
Apple notes that their invention covers an apparatus that includes a surface, and an interface device having an input device and a display device. The interface device has a deactivated state in which the interface device is concealed behind the surface.
The interface device has an activated state in which the interface device emits light through the surface. The input device is operable to sense gesture inputs made with respect to the surface.
Another aspect of the invention is an apparatus that includes a first surface, wherein the first surface is part of a seating assembly. The apparatus also includes an input device that is concealed behind the first surface, and a display device.
The display device has a deactivated state in which the display device is concealed behind a second surface, and an activated state in which the display device emits light through the second surface. The input device is operable to control a user interface displayed by the display device when the display device is in the activated state.
Apple's patent FIG. 5 below is an illustration that shows a seating assembly and the interface device, including output of a visible location indication by the interface device; FIG. 6 is an illustration that shows the seating assembly and the interface device, including output of a user interface by the interface device.
Apple's patent FIG. 14 above is an illustration that shows the seating assembly and the panel assembly including simultaneous use of multiple interface devices; FIG. 15 is an illustration that shows the seating assembly, the panel assembly, and a floor assembly.
More specifically, Apple notes that patent FIG. 15 is an illustration that shows the seating assembly (#410), the panel assembly (#1332), and a floor assembly (#1544). As examples, the floor surface (#1548) may be made from textile materials, plastic materials, or carpeting materials.
An interface device (#1550) is concealed under the floor surface and is not visible in an inactive state, but emits light to display content to the user when in an active state.
As an alternative a projection-based device may be used to display content on the floor surface instead of using the interface device to display the content through the floor surface.
Apple's patent FIG. 16 below is a front view illustration that shows a concealed user interface assembly that incorporates passive haptic feedback; FIG. 17 is an exploded view of the concealed user interface assembly of FIG. 16 showing an example of a structural configuration that can be used to define passive haptic areas.
Apple's patent FIG. 19 above presents a cross-section perspective illustration showing another example of a concealed user interface assembly having a limited view angle; FIG. 20 is a flowchart that shows a process for activating a concealed interface device according to a first example.
Apple's invention also covers the ability to use gestures like "pinch" and "hover" gestures to communicate with a user interface. They also make note of using a vision sensor that is able to be used for gaze detection as a means of communicating with an interface.
Apple's granted patent 10,656,777 was originally filed in Q1 2018 and published today by the US Patent and Trademark Office. Apple's invention was hidden under the engineers' names and not published as an Apple patent application. This is the first time this has been made public, in the form a granted patent under Apple as the assignee. Apple does this with most Project Titan inventions so as to only reveal them once granted by USPTO.