Apple wins two Project Titan patents related to Smart Lighting Systems with next-gen interior lighting offering some cool features
Today the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially granted Apple two new Project Titan patents. The first relates to vehicle sensors, and in particular to sensors which are embedded in light assemblies included in a vehicle. The second patent relates to a lighting environment. More particularly, the embodiments relate to adjustable and dynamic lighting within a lighting environment. Apple's smart lighting system patent provides examples which are truly fascinating.
Embedded Light Sensors
Vehicles are often navigated through environment in which various elements are located, where vehicles are navigated to avoid collisions with such elements. Elements in an environment can include static elements which do not change location within an environment, including plant life structures, etc. Elements in an environment can include dynamic elements which can change location within an environment, including vehicles, humans, animal life, etc.
In some cases, vehicles include sensors which monitor one or more portions of an environment in which the vehicle is located. The sensors can generate sensor data which can be utilized to augment navigation of a vehicle through an environment. For example, sensor data generated by sensors of a vehicle which are configured to monitor a portion of an environment proximate to a rear end of the vehicle can be utilized to provide, to an occupant of the vehicle that is a driver of the vehicle, a graphical representation of the portion of the environment via a user interface, and the driver can utilize the graphical representation to augment situational awareness of the environment when manually navigating the vehicle through the environment. In another example, an autonomous navigation system included in a vehicle can utilize sensor data generated by one or more sensors of the vehicle to autonomously navigate the vehicle through the environment.
Apple's invention covers a vehicle which includes one or more element assemblies which can provide concurrent light emission and environment monitoring via a common window element in the vehicle. An element assembly includes a housing configured to be installed in a vehicle, wherein the housing comprises an interior space which is at least partially enclosed by the housing and is configured to support at least one light emitter device and at least one sensor device coupled to the housing within the interior space; and a window element coupled to the housing, wherein the window element completes an enclosure of the interior space and establishes a transparent barrier between the interior space and an external environment, such that the at least one light emitter device and at least one sensor device coupled to the housing within the interior space are configured to interact with the external environment via a common window element.
Apple's patent FIG. 1 below illustrates a vehicle which includes a vehicle navigation system communicatively coupled to multiple sensor devices and vehicle control elements.
Apple's patent FIG. 2 above illustrates a vehicle which includes a vehicle navigation system communicatively coupled to multiple element assemblies which each include one or more light emitter devices and one or more sensor devices.
For more details, review Apple's granted patent 10,940,788
System and method for Adjustable Lighting based on Occupant and Object Identification in a Vehicle
Apple has been granted a second Project Titan patent today generally relating to a lighting environment. More particularly, the embodiments relate to adjustable and dynamic lighting within a lighting environment.
Conventional vehicle interior lights are static and typically vehicle occupants have to control the lights using a switch or a physical button. A conventional vehicle interior light may only illuminate a limited area while failing to illuminate large swaths of the interior of the vehicle.
As an example, the vehicle occupant may be attempting to find an object dropped onto the floor of the vehicle at night. When the occupant turns on a light mounted on the roof of the vehicle, the light may not be helpful because the occupant's body may create a shadow or the light may not illuminate a correct location within the vehicle.
Objects within the vehicle also may be difficult to view based on limited lighting options in the interior of the vehicle. In short, a vehicle with conventional lighting would benefit from many improvements.
Apple's granted patent covers an environment, such as a vehicle, includes a lighting system that determines objects, locations, and zones within the vehicle to illuminate while minimizing disturbance to vehicle occupants. The lighting system recognizes the objects, locations, and zones within the vehicle to be illuminated and responds to explicit requests or commands for illumination or anticipates implicit requests or commands for illumination. The lighting system automatically and dynamically adds and/or subtracts lighting to a location associated with an occupant, object, or zone.
In one embodiment, the lighting system provides adjustable spotlights that receive signals from or otherwise communicate with sensors and imaging devices of the vehicle to intelligently illuminate a particular object, location, or zone within an interior of the vehicle. In another embodiment, the lighting system that provides the adjustable spotlights includes mechanisms to respond to explicit and implicit commands from occupants of the vehicle such as verbal commands, gesture-based commands, and touch-based commands.
As an example, when an object is dropped onto a floor of the vehicle, the lighting system may automatically illuminate the dropped object and track a hand of the occupant as the occupant reaches for the object.
As another example, if an occupant is located in a rear zone of the vehicle and is illuminated by an adjustable spotlight, the lighting system may detect that the occupant is closing their eyes and drifting to sleep, e.g., the system may monitor a baby or toddler in a safety seat that is falling asleep. The lighting system may automatically and gradually turn the adjustable spotlight off to not disturb the occupant.
As a further example, an occupant may be located in a front zone of the vehicle while the vehicle is autonomously traveling from a first location to a second location at night. As the vehicle begins to approach the destination, the vehicle may automatically and gradually turn an adjustable spotlight on to gradually wake the occupant of the vehicle.
Apple's patent FIG. 1B below illustrates one lighting hardware module #104 may create and control adjustable spotlights #109 illuminating particular locations and/or particular zones #107 in the vehicle (#102).
Apple's patent FIG. 3 above illustrates a flowchart for activating and controlling adjustable lighting within a vehicle.
For more details, review Apple's granted patent 10,940,790.