Apple Car may automatically tint windows for better safety and privacy

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware
The Apple Car could have an intelligent window tinting system that uses liquid crystal technology to block sunlight and other people from looking inside the vehicle, one that could automatically engage to provide a level of privacy.

Drivers don't necessarily want to be seen by other road users [Pixabay]
Drivers don't necessarily want to be seen by other road users [Pixabay]


Window tinting provides a number of benefits to drivers. For some, it can make a bright local environment more tolerable on the eyes, cutting down the amount of light entering the vehicle.

For others, tinting the windows affords drivers and passengers more privacy from prying eyes. This is evident in vehicles used by celebrities and other VIPs, but it also allows for some level of secrecy for others simply when parked, as it prevents would-be thieves from seeing valuable items on the back seat and potentially tempting them into theft.

Normal window tinting is fixed, with no adjustability at all to make things more or less visible. It is possible to block light using electronic and mechanical shutters, but these involve moving elements, which may not be what users may want.

Though it can be done using electrochromatic hardware, with light transmission values adjusted via changing the voltage, but Apple argues the modulation speed could be too slow or generate "excessive haze or other optical defects."

In a pair of patents granted by the US Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday, Apple suggests some solutions that the Apple Car could have to the tinting issues.

Liquid crystal tinting

In the first patent, "Devices with guest-host liquid crystal modulators," Apple suggests windows could have multiple layers, designed to block out different types of light. This can be divided into both visible and non-visible wavelengths.

On the non-visible side, selective filtering could block ultraviolet light, and both near infrared light and far infrared light, handling both infrared wavelengths generated by the sun and by low-power transmitters. Blocking infrared could prevent excessive heat buildup inside of the vehicle, as well as any damage that could be caused by UV light.

Blocking visible light has its obvious advantages relating to privacy and aiding a driver's vision.

The liquid crystal layer could be sandwiched between multiple other static protective layers
The liquid crystal layer could be sandwiched between multiple other static protective layers


These layers could be made from multiple layers of a crystalline metal on crystalline oxide seed layers, with barrier layers between each of them. While this can largely consist of static layers, such as for UV protection, there's the opportunity to introduce some adjustable elements.

Apple suggests a "guest-host liquid crystal light modulator" could be employed as a layer, one containing liquid crystal material with a dye interposed between polymer substrate layers. These polymer substrates could be thermoplastic, moldable to confirm to the surfaces and shapes of the window, while the dye could be dichroic or a mix of azo and anthraquionone dye.

In effect, Apple's system employs a similar technology behind LCD screens. The black text on a display is created by selectively applying voltage to elements of a liquid crystal matrix to block the passage of light from a backlight to a user's eyes. The core concept is the same, except it's for an entire window, not a pixel.

Much like the display version, the system could enable varying levels of intensity, blocking out small amounts or all light at most, or simply allowing all light to pass through.

The patent lists its inventors as Khadijeh Bayat, Cheng Chen, Ibuki Kamei, Shih-Wei Chang, Avery P. Yuen, and Zhibing Ge. It was originally filed on October 17, 2016.

Selective tinting

A second patent, a "System and method for dynamic privacy and window tinting," seems to line up well with the first, in that it is a system to alter the level of tinting applied to windows.

Apple reasons the patent needs to exist as conventional tinting do not "adequately protect and shield occupants from sunlight and other forms of light" from outside a vehicle, as well as failing to provide "adequate privacy."

The patent suggests the use of a computing device connected to tinting hardware modules, with one able to adjust the level of tinting in the other, generally by adjusting the voltage level of adjustable tint film. By taking measurements from various sensors on a vehicle, the computer could determine the situation and automatically alter the tinting level.

Another example of a liquid crystal layer for tinting windows
Another example of a liquid crystal layer for tinting windows


These data points can include GPS coordinates, thermometers, barometers, precipitation sensors, ambient light sensors, 3D and 2D cameras, an iris camera, a weight sensor, microphones, ECGs, infrared antennas, and the presence of a touchscreen, among others.

This collection of sensors could potentially work out that visibility isn't great for the driver, triggering the tinting to reduce, or that it could be too bright or too hot, turning tinting up in the process. The same system could use the location to determine if it is located in a built-up area like a city or on a highway, with the former requiring more tinting than the latter.

Knowing if there are occupants in a vehicle could also dictate the level of tinting, such as to automatically put tinting to the maximum when parked. A car's LiDAR system for driving may feasibly be able to tell if there's a pedestrian nearby who may be able to look into the vehicle, which again may trigger a tinting response.

Meanwhile, detecting the driver's mobile device near to the vehicle but outside could delay the automatic parked tinting until they move away, or reverse the tinting level when the driver returns to the vehicle.

The patent lists its inventors as Clarisse Mazuir, Budhadipta Dan, Khadijeh Bayat, Matthew E. Last, and Ryan J. Garrone. It was filed on December 1, 2016.

Previous Filings

Window tinting has appeared in a previous filing, with April's "Systems with adjustable windows" detailing how a series of layers could create tinted windows with a variety of different effects, including enabling a reflection, creating a haze-like frosting, or a mirror effect, depending on the situation.

Apple has also considered a privacy-based lighting system, by using a liquid crystal layer in a window that is synchronized with the internal lighting system to block light from leaving the vehicle, while still allowing passengers a full external view.

Windows may not be limited to just tinting, with Apple also exploring systems for detecting cracks in windows, as well as embedding a display in the windscreen.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 24
    ivanhivanh Posts: 591member
    tinting could be illegal in many countries.
    lkruppScot1superkloton
  • Reply 2 of 24
    "Apple Car".   LOL 
    cornchip
  • Reply 3 of 24
    “Hey Siri.  Engage coitus mode.”
    randominternetpersoncornchipright_said_fred
  • Reply 4 of 24
    ivanh said:
    tinting could be illegal in many countries.
    In the UK a certain amount is fine, over that limit its illegal, but only on the front, on the back, happy days, (ala van), one rule for all
    lkruppScot1
  • Reply 5 of 24
    ivanh said:
    tinting could be illegal in many countries.
    In which case Apple would either disable this feature for cars sold in that country or it would be up to the driver/owner to comply with local laws. How's that different from a million other regulations that Apple (and other multinationals) deal with on a regular basis?

    Presumably most of those laws are about impaired vision while driving. I expect a significant use of this tech would be to prevent prying eyes from looking into a parked car (or to protect the interior from sun damage).  Are those big cardboard screens people put in their windshields when they park their car in the blinding sun also illegal?
    edited November 2020 cornchipsuperkloton
  • Reply 6 of 24
    dewmedewme Posts: 3,833member
    ivanh said:
    tinting could be illegal in many countries.
    In the US the maximum amounting of tinting (reduction in transparency) and which windows can be tinted to what degree is generally enforced at a state level. An electronic tinting mechanism as described here would be a boon for people who find benefits from window tinting because it could automatically adapt to stay compliant with local laws by using location information.

    I was under the impression that adjustable electronic window tinting technology was already widely used, at least as an aftermarket overlay or film, both for automotive use and home use (e.g., bathroom windows). Not sure what's different here other than laminating the tinting mechanism directly in the layered glass design. I'm sure it'll drive the cost of window glass way up and the insurance industry will pass along this cost to us in the form of higher premiums. 
    CloudTalkin
  • Reply 7 of 24
    Just imagine the insurance premium markup for this glass.
    lkruppkkqd1337SpamSandwich
  • Reply 8 of 24
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,480member
    Just imagine the insurance premium markup for this glass.
    At the price range this car would be in I doubt the insurance premium would matter to any buyers.
    razorpitkkqd1337elijahg
  • Reply 9 of 24
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,480member

    ivanh said:
    tinting could be illegal in many countries.
    On the other hand maybe the tinting would be electronically controlled. Such windows already exist. You get stopped and the police officer asks you to please turn off the tinting before approaching your car.
    cornchip
  • Reply 10 of 24

    Police will definitely not like this.

    Also, what happen if the circuits go on the fritz and the windows just turns complete opaque while driving.

  • Reply 11 of 24
    Tinted windows
    don't mean nothing
    they know who's inside...

    Run-DMC
    cornchiprazorpit
  • Reply 12 of 24
    JapheyJaphey Posts: 863member
    Tucker: The Man and his Apple Car. 

    Will Apple ever get this thing off the ground? I mean literally, will Apple be able to make them fly too?
  • Reply 13 of 24
    How is this even patentable by Apple.  Mercedes-Benz SLK had Magic Sky LCD dimmable glass 10 years ago,
    h2p
  • Reply 14 of 24
    ivanh said:
    tinting could be illegal in many countries.
    Apple is quite good at image recognition and machine learning.  it will un-tint when the police approach :)
    cornchip
  • Reply 15 of 24
    ivanh said:
    tinting could be illegal in many countries.
    Tinting the front screen IS illegal in many countries. People do it quite a lot. Those who do are usually those with something to hide. If you want to get stopped by the law in major cities then this is an invitation to them to do just that.


  • Reply 16 of 24
    XedXed Posts: 1,030member
    lkrupp said:
    ivanh said:
    tinting could be illegal in many countries.
    On the other hand maybe the tinting would be electronically controlled. Such windows already exist. You get stopped and the police officer asks you to please turn off the tinting before approaching your car.
    That’s a good point. If the tinting can be reduced the. It should be less of an issue than the unchanging tint that is currently on cars.
  • Reply 17 of 24
    XedXed Posts: 1,030member
    ralphie said:
    How is this even patentable by Apple.  Mercedes-Benz SLK had Magic Sky LCD dimmable glass 10 years ago,
    Is it the same?
    Dogperson
  • Reply 18 of 24
    Apple Car is an thoroughly exhausting topic
  • Reply 19 of 24
    flydogflydog Posts: 1,008member
    ivanh said:
    tinting could be illegal in many countries.
    Tinting the front screen IS illegal in many countries. People do it quite a lot. Those who do are usually those with something to hide. If you want to get stopped by the law in major cities then this is an invitation to them to do just that.


    All car windows are tinted, including the windshield, from the factory. There is no such thing as 100% VLT glass in any country, and it is in fact, perfectly legal.

    Some jurisdictions limit the degree of tinting. That is not the same thing as totally illegal. 


    Xed
  • Reply 20 of 24
    sounds good and..... expensive!

    i bought an expensive car once, well, expensive to me, at about $100k 

    done it. yeah was nice car, but since experiencing 'the best' (at least of what i will ever be able to afford) I have become very indifferent to cars now. wouldn't do it again. when you get down to it the premium price for a badge, gadgets and bit of leather here and there just isn't worth it.

    but eventually flagship features worth their salt work there way down to the mass market. so bring it on.
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