The 'Apple Car' may be able to detect, warn drivers of cracked windows

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in General Discussion
The Apple Car may alert drivers to chips and cracks in the windshield and other windows, with a system that uses infrared light to determine if there are any issues with the glass, as well as giving an early warning to prevent small cracks getting larger.




One of the ongoing inescapable issues of driving are instances where a windscreen breaks. Chips and cracks can develop on a windscreen from stones and other debris flying into the glass at high speed, with the damage varying from small nicks to larger and potentially dangerous cracks.

While small amounts of damage may seem to be reasonable, a sudden jolt of the window could easily make the crack worse. Furthermore, cracks could allow air and moisture to pass through the glass, which in layered systems like a heating element film for a rear window, could affect the electronics.

In a patent granted by Apple on Tuesday by the US Patent and Trademark Office titled "Systems for detecting cracks in windows," Apple specifically targets windows in vehicles, though the same systems could easily be used in other areas, such as house windows.

Terminal strips around the edge can help detect where and how big a crack in the glass is.
Terminal strips around the edge can help detect where and how big a crack in the glass is.


The patent suggests the window could have an infrared-light-blocking layer, which is joined by a conductive layer on top, as well as control circuity. The circuitry has the ability to apply ohmic heating currents to the windows, which warms them up.

The conductive layer performs two tasks, with it used for resistance measurements and to assist with the ohmic heating.

Along the edges of the window are segmented terminals made up of elongated metal strips, which are used to apply the ohmic heating current. These same strips are also able to make electrical measurements, reading emissions from other terminals transmitted through the conductive layer.

When a crack forms in a window, it breaks parts of the glass layer sandwich, which in turn affects how the conductive layer passes electricity through to other terminals. Specifically, the changes to the conductive layer introduces resistance, which are then measured.

A crack can interfere with other layers in the glass stack.
A crack can interfere with other layers in the glass stack.


By using multiple terminal strips around the outside, the system can create a map of resistance across the glass surface, and can determine the general position, size, and possibly shape of the cracked area. By selectively enabling and disabling the terminals, this map could focus on the cracked area more and provide increased detail for the system to use.

The patent lists its inventors as Martin Melcher, Christopher D. Jones, and James R. Wilson. The application was filed on July 14, 2017.

Apple files numerous patent applications on a weekly basis, but while the existence of a patent indicates areas of interest for Apple's research teams, it doesn't guarantee the existence of the idea in a future product or service.

Obviously, the patent has its primary use for the Apple Car, the long-rumored Apple-designed vehicle, however it may have more utility than some may realize. Apple has filed numerous patent applications for car-related ideas that involve glass and the windscreen itself, with each easily benefiting from a system that detects glass damage.

In August, it gained a patent for embedding a display into a car window, while in 2019 it suggested adding fiber optic elements to windows. An earlier filing gave more of an idea of Apple's vision for the Apple Car, with an AR view for the driver showing the route ahead.

Away from the windscreen, Apple has also looked at creating a "moon roof" with automatically tinting windows, again relying on layers within windows to adjust the transparency. A patent for "synchronized windows" suggested using a liquid crystal layer working in combination with an internal light to refresh and block the internal light from being emitted from the vehicle, while still allowing passengers to see outside.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 26
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 3,426member
    While we're talking about rumored features of rumored products that are rumored to have been cancelled, revived, maybe cancelled, maybe not... I also heard that Apple's galactic cruiser is going to have a negative ionic tractor disruptor. That's right, not a regular ionic tractor disruptor, but a NEGATIVE ionic tractor disruptor. 
    darkvaderRayz2016baconstangking editor the gratedewmemuthuk_vanalingamelijahgwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 26
    darkvaderdarkvader Posts: 1,146member
    Oh, hey, a thing I absolutely DO NOT WANT ON MY CAR. 

    What are they going to do with the info?  Light up an idiot light that I can't turn off?  Shut the car down until I get the windshield replaced? 

    Unless the crack is bad enough that it's disrupting my visibility, I DO NOT NEED OR WANT TO KNOW ABOUT IT.  Seriously, I don't care.  If a crack is actually a problem, I will know about it immediately. 
    maltzbaconstangsdw2001entropysrazorpitbulk001elijahg
  • Reply 3 of 26
    williamhwilliamh Posts: 1,036member
    Even with electric motors, Apple will make this car cost a fortune to maintain. A broken windshield will probably be a total loss. :p   I have had a chip in the windshield of my pretty old car that’s low on my list of things to fix. Been there a couple of years without expanding.  Based on the patent, it seems like the AppleCar might require a higher level of perfection be maintained. 

    Btw, I have a “system” for detecting broken glass.  It’s the same system I use for knowing where to steer, etc.  

    I could nitpick the AppleCar all day.  I’m sure it will be cool as hell though. 
    edited August 2020 elijahgcoolfactorbaconstang
  • Reply 4 of 26
    ... and it will only cost half the price of the car to replace them, and only at Apple dealers.
    spice-boybaconstangrazorpitravnorodommuthuk_vanalingamelijahg
  • Reply 5 of 26
    spice-boyspice-boy Posts: 1,450member
    An ancient hardware device called "eyes" can tell you when your windshield is cracked too. 
    coolfactorentropysrazorpitmuthuk_vanalingamelijahgdarkvader
  • Reply 6 of 26
    spice-boyspice-boy Posts: 1,450member
    Apple next will re-invent the wheel, can't wait to see if it looks like the last 6 iPhone bodies.
    coolfactor
  • Reply 7 of 26
    I have the best possible device To detect glass breakage that even the savviest tech company cant match: my eyes. 
    coolfactorentropysrazorpitmuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 8 of 26
    coolfactorcoolfactor Posts: 2,293member

    When you replace the windshield, you'll also have to replace the rear axel and the seatbelts, because somehow they will be integrated and can't be repaired independently



    (Gah! Can't stand this new AppleInsider article-forum setup. it's terrible!)
    williamhrazorpitravnorodommuthuk_vanalingamelijahgdarkvader
  • Reply 9 of 26
    AI: presents article about detecting chips and cracks in auto glass.

    Also AI:  shows a picture of a windshield hit by a meteor as an example of "chips and cracks".   :D

    Also, also AI:  hit by meteor, the person's dash displays a CRACK DETECTED warning red light

    Also, also, also AI: annoyed, the person puts a piece of electrical tape over warning light and keeps driving.  Confidently driving with the knowledge that it will buff right out. ;)
    baconstangbikerdudeelijahg
  • Reply 10 of 26
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 33,407member
    Why would a self-driving car need windows? Just seal up everything, enjoy the ride and a virtual view of the outside displayed on your Apple Glasses.
    razorpit
  • Reply 11 of 26
    maltzmaltz Posts: 474member
    I get that companies regularly patent things they never intend to use, and I also get that this technology might have very useful applications outside the auto industry... submersibles or aerospace, perhaps.

    But putting this in a car would be monumentally dumb.

    razorpitelijahg
  • Reply 12 of 26
    baconstangbaconstang Posts: 1,125member
    In my car, my sub-ultrasonic audio detectors alert me to the possibility of damage.  Soon thereafter, near ultraviolet sensors scan the pane of inconsistencies in visible light transmission.  After an evaluation, I usually ignore it, unless it grows.
    maltzentropysdarkvader
  • Reply 13 of 26
    sdw2001sdw2001 Posts: 18,020member
    I have the technology already. It’s called my eyes.
  • Reply 14 of 26
    quazarquazar Posts: 21member
    Apple ought to focus more on fixing the bugs in their software..

    Also in making their software work better for disabled users - try hiring some disabled people to help with testing, nd product evaluation.


    darkvader
  • Reply 15 of 26
    JinTechJinTech Posts: 1,042member
    spice-boy said:
    Apple next will re-invent the wheel, can't wait to see if it looks like the last 6 iPhone bodies.
    They already have, you didn't know? 

  • Reply 16 of 26
    If you can’t see a crack in your windshield you vision isn’t good enough to drive safely.
    razorpit
  • Reply 17 of 26
    bulk001bulk001 Posts: 771member
    darkvader said:
    Oh, hey, a thing I absolutely DO NOT WANT ON MY CAR. 

    What are they going to do with the info?  Light up an idiot light that I can't turn off?  Shut the car down until I get the windshield replaced? 

    Unless the crack is bad enough that it's disrupting my visibility, I DO NOT NEED OR WANT TO KNOW ABOUT IT.  Seriously, I don't care.  If a crack is actually a problem, I will know about it immediately. 
    Give this guy a job at Apple! Or is this Cook’s idea of a big risk? “Let’s detect cracks in a windshield. Without us telling them that they would never know! We will get stories on AI about AppleCrack saving lives ... 
    libertyandfree
  • Reply 18 of 26
    dewmedewme Posts: 5,535member
    spice-boy said:
    An ancient hardware device called "eyes" can tell you when your windshield is cracked too. 
    I think I saw that Captain Obvious was listed as an inventor on the patent award.

    Word has it that Apple and Capt O are also working on a patent that tells the driver whether they are actually sitting in their Apple Car as opposed to just having an out-of-body experience or a dream that involves them sitting in an Apple Car. I think it's based on some sort of upward facing probe technology embedded in the Apple Seat that imparts a sensory signal to generate a physical response from the user. It's probably based on a tiny piezoelectric generator that takes advantage of butt-cheek-capacitance (BCC) to determine when the driver is actually in contact with the driver's seat and not hovering above the seat in the ether as would be the case for a typical out-of-body scenario.
    bikerdude
  • Reply 19 of 26
    Windshield, who cares about a windshield when the Apple car drives itself around town. 
    SpamSandwich
  • Reply 20 of 26
    It’s pretty clear that everyone has missed them point. Apple Car is going to be made with structural glass, similar to what some Apple Stores use. Basically a bubble of glass. Sure, you’ll see a large crack in your windshield but you may miss the tiny, hairline fractures at a critical juncture of structural glass and chassis. Obvious.
    razorpitwatto_cobra
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