Apple is working to reinvent the seatbelt for the Apple Car

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited June 2023

The typical big red button to release a seatbelt is too old-fashioned for the Apple Car, which instead wants seatbelt buckles to light up, and even display information.

Skoda already has seatbelt buttons that light up, but Apple wants to do more
Skoda already has seatbelt buttons that light up, but Apple wants to do more
The familiar interior of a car could see changes because of Apple
The familiar interior of a car could see changes because of Apple



Apple has had its eye on seatbelts before, with a 2019 patent proposing that they include speakers and media controls. Now in a newly-granted patent called "Restraint with an indicator area," Apple is going after something more basic.

Seatbelts will still work by your inserting a connector into a buckle, and that buckle will still have a button that snap-releases the belt. But where that release button is typically red, Apple's will change.

When you get into the Apple Car -- which Apple still won't confirm it's doing -- then you will see bright red seatbelt buckles. But then when have put one on, the red light turns off and the belt restraint "may be uncolored (i.e. colored according to the nominal color of the opaque structure."

So the buckle button will light up to help you find it. That could actually be useful in situations where it's not clear whose seatbelt is whose, or which buckle they should be inserted into.

It's potentially so useful that Skoda has already done it, or at least a version of it. Apple's patent proposes hiding the red light until its needed, by putting the illumination behind myriad invisible holes in the material.

"The description herein relates to a safety restraint that utilizes light emitted through an array of very small holes through an otherwise opaque surface to provide information to users regarding operation of the safety restraint," says the patent. "As one example, many seat belt buckles include red-colored release buttons to allow the user to easily discern the location and function of the button."

"[Small] holes are formed through opaque structures allow transmission of light," it explains. "In particular, portions of the restraint use light that is emitted through the holes (either empty or filled with a translucent material), which are formed through an otherwise opaque portion of the safety restraint."

"The size of the holes is sufficiently small such that they are not readily visible to the naked eve of a vehicle occupant on casual inspection," says Apple.

So a seatbelt and buckle could light up red when you need to see them, and turn back to being the same color as the rest of the seat when you're wearing them.

Detail from the patent showing that Apple designers may not have heard of Norman doors
Detail from the patent showing that Apple designers may not have heard of Norman doors



There is just a little more, though. While the actual text of the patent doesn't use this word once, four of its nine illustrations clearly show that a seatbelt could say "Push."

It's not clear whether that word would light up as you draw the seatbelt near to its buckle, or whether it's what could be displayed on the buckle's release.

What is clear is that in either case, you're already either about to push the seatbelt's tongue into the buckle, or to press to release it. So in either case, "Push" bordering on patronizing.

It is always good to know that you have correctly secured a seat belt, so maybe the "Push" sign switching off could be confirmation. Except with existing seatbelts, there is a distinctive click when you get it right.

Or perhaps Apple intends to add haptic feedback, too.

Curiously, this newly-granted patent is actually a second one regarding lighting or lit-up regions in a car. In 2019, Apple was also awarded a patent for "Lighting systems of vehicle seats," which could light up when a seat is being adjusted, for instance.

Read on AppleInsider

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 29
    How about a Magsafe seatbelt, basically an Apple variant on Fidlock buckles? They are extremely easy to buckle and unbuckle.
    watto_cobrafriedmud
  • Reply 2 of 29
    eriamjheriamjh Posts: 1,677member
    So unnecessary.   The best seatbelt light is no seatbelt light.

    How about a friendly reminder in the voice of Siri to Please, fasten your seat belt instead of an annoying chime?
    watto_cobrawilliamlondongrandact73
  • Reply 3 of 29
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 5,848member
    JP234 said:
    The current seatbelts we use are not broken. Why fix them?

    If we want to improve safety, we should focus on getting people to actually USE them. We all know people who buckle them before sitting down on top of them. They'll do the same thing with this particular "innovation." The way to do that is to figure out a clever ignition lock-out that won't let the car start until the drive is actually buckled in, not sitting atop a seatbelt. If anyone could figure that out, it's Apple. (And I don't mean those "passive restraint" belts we had in the '90s, before airbags. Everyone hated them.)
    A flip phone wasn't broken either but Apple made it better. A Sony Walkman wasn't broken either but Apple made it better. I would reserve judgement until you see the what and why, not just an article with baseless claims. 

    Whenever this vehicle comes to market I think it's gonna be like Apple Vision Pro. It'll be so far out there people will mock it like crazy because it's something incredibly different and not just the same as what everyone else is doing. This is what Apple does. They shake things up and push competitors to do things they couldn't imagine doing. 
    WhiskeyAPPLEciderwatto_cobragregoriusmwilliamlondonXedfriedmud
  • Reply 4 of 29
    StymyxStymyx Posts: 6member
    JP234 said:
    ...The way to do that is to figure out a clever ignition lock-out that won't let the car start until the drive is actually buckled in, not sitting atop a seatbelt.
    I can tell you, Ford actually tried this in the '70's.  My dad's 1974 Ford Pinto had a "Seatbelt Interlock", which required the seatbelt to be attached before the engine would start.  And if the interlock failed, there was a button under the hood that you had to press in order to start the engine.  My dad was one of those types that refused to wear seatbelts.  Not smart, I know, but that's the way he was.  One day he learned how to defeat the interlock, by hooking the seatbelt buckle on the door handle lever.  Doing that pulled the belt out far enough to where the system thought the belt was attached, and the engine would start.

    Don't get me wrong.  I think not wearing a seatbelt is a stupid idea, and I personally choose to wear one.  But forcing people to wear one when they don't want to, that never works.  If they want to live dangerously, fine, let them.  If they don't, they're only endangering themselves.

    And that Ford Seatbelt Interlock?  It only lasted one model year.  By 1975, it was gone.
    edited June 2023 watto_cobrawilliamlondon
  • Reply 5 of 29
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 7,823member
    JP234 said:
    The current seatbelts we use are not broken. Why fix them?

    If we want to improve safety, we should focus on getting people to actually USE them. We all know people who buckle them before sitting down on top of them. They'll do the same thing with this particular "innovation." The way to do that is to figure out a clever ignition lock-out that won't let the car start until the drive is actually buckled in, not sitting atop a seatbelt. If anyone could figure that out, it's Apple. (And I don't mean those "passive restraint" belts we had in the '90s, before airbags. Everyone hated them.)
    It's been many, many years since I saw anyone driving without a seat belt in the EU. 

    Sitting on a buckled belt is a very bad idea and not having one cross your shoulder is a very quick way to get fined. 

    In the context presented here, the word 'reinvent' is stretching things a lot. 

    friedmud
  • Reply 6 of 29
    mr. hmr. h Posts: 4,870member
    Stymyx said:

    [...] forcing people to wear one when they don't want to, that never works.  If they want to live dangerously, fine, let them.  If they don't, they're only endangering themselves.
    If they are in a rear passenger seat, it is not true that they are only endangering themselves. In a high-energy crash, a person sitting in a rear passenger seat without a belt on, can crush a person sitting in a seat in front of them.
    edited June 2023 radarthekatwatto_cobragregoriusmwilliamlondon
  • Reply 7 of 29
    dutchlorddutchlord Posts: 232member
    Better release the 27 inch M2 iMac…Apple please stay laser focussed. No need for Apple seatbelts and Apple ski goggles. 
    edited June 2023 williamlondonM68000
  • Reply 8 of 29
    AppleZuluAppleZulu Posts: 2,073member
    JP234 said:
    The current seatbelts we use are not broken. Why fix them?

    If we want to improve safety, we should focus on getting people to actually USE them. We all know people who buckle them before sitting down on top of them. They'll do the same thing with this particular "innovation." The way to do that is to figure out a clever ignition lock-out that won't let the car start until the drive is actually buckled in, not sitting atop a seatbelt. If anyone could figure that out, it's Apple. (And I don't mean those "passive restraint" belts we had in the '90s, before airbags. Everyone hated them.)
    There are myriad ways to detect a seatbelt that is bucked and sat upon. Proximity sensors, or cameras, or contact in the seat and belt all could be used, or something else entirely. This would not be a difficult engineering problem for Apple.
    watto_cobrawilliamlondon
  • Reply 9 of 29
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 3,866moderator
    JP234 said:
    The current seatbelts we use are not broken. Why fix them?

    If we want to improve safety, we should focus on getting people to actually USE them. We all know people who buckle them before sitting down on top of them. They'll do the same thing with this particular "innovation." The way to do that is to figure out a clever ignition lock-out that won't let the car start until the drive is actually buckled in, not sitting atop a seatbelt. If anyone could figure that out, it's Apple. (And I don't mean those "passive restraint" belts we had in the '90s, before airbags. Everyone hated them.)
    When I get in my car I immediately press the Start button, to let the engine warm up and drop the revs for idle and for my phone to sync with Bluetooth CarPlay.  I then pull my glasses from hanging on my shirt, to clear them out of the way of the seatbelt, put them on my face and only then do I pull the seatbelt on.  By then the music is synch’d and playing and the idle is dropping.  I’m ready to throw the car in gear and drive.  

    An easy modification of your idea would be to prevent the car moving unless the seatbelt were worn.  But that might not be ideal as there may be need to move a car even if the seatbelt system was broken, such as after an accident.
    edited June 2023 watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 29
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 3,866moderator
    No seatbelts required…

    https://youtu.be/SD3g9iGlceU
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 29
    AppleZuluAppleZulu Posts: 2,073member
    Stymyx said:
    JP234 said:
    ...The way to do that is to figure out a clever ignition lock-out that won't let the car start until the drive is actually buckled in, not sitting atop a seatbelt.
    I can tell you, Ford actually tried this in the '70's.  My dad's 1974 Ford Pinto had a "Seatbelt Interlock", which required the seatbelt to be attached before the engine would start.  And if the interlock failed, there was a button under the hood that you had to press in order to start the engine.  My dad was one of those types that refused to wear seatbelts.  Not smart, I know, but that's the way he was.  One day he learned how to defeat the interlock, by hooking the seatbelt buckle on the door handle lever.  Doing that pulled the belt out far enough to where the system thought the belt was attached, and the engine would start.

    Don't get me wrong.  I think not wearing a seatbelt is a stupid idea, and I personally choose to wear one.  But forcing people to wear one when they don't want to, that never works.  If they want to live dangerously, fine, let them.  If they don't, they're only endangering themselves.

    And that Ford Seatbelt Interlock?  It only lasted one model year.  By 1975, it was gone.
    In reality this is never true. A parent who 'opts' to voluntarily eject through the windshield in an auto accident is a devastating loss to the family involved, changing the trajectory of life for everyone else. A passenger who 'opts' to voluntarily flop around in the back seat in a rollover accident, severing their spine in the process, projects the immense costs of their flippant decision on everyone else in the family and/or to others beyond, through taxes and insurance costs required to support that person if they survive. So no, choosing to get in a car and ride around without using available safety restraints is not an independent, libertarian personal choice. It is the externalization of an immense potential cost in trade for accommodating a perceived mild discomfort or impish offense taken at 'being told what to do.'
    mr. hwatto_cobrasilverpraxischutzpahchasmwilliamlondonfriedmud
  • Reply 12 of 29
    georgie01georgie01 Posts: 437member
    AppleZulu said:

    In reality this is never true. A parent who 'opts' to voluntarily eject through the windshield in an auto accident is a devastating loss to the family involved, changing the trajectory of life for everyone else. A passenger who 'opts' to voluntarily flop around in the back seat in a rollover accident, severing their spine in the process, projects the immense costs of their flippant decision on everyone else in the family and/or to others beyond, through taxes and insurance costs required to support that person if they survive. So no, choosing to get in a car and ride around without using available safety restraints is not an independent, libertarian personal choice. It is the externalization of an immense potential cost in trade for accommodating a perceived mild discomfort or impish offense taken at 'being told what to do.'
    The actual reality is that the history of humanity makes it clear that the approach of forced compliance will only succeed for a time.

    America’s approach was unique, and it was wildly successful. Whatever complaints people have about it today, life has never been more plentiful and abundant for a wider selection of people.  People want things to be even better, and that’s great!

    Except that forced compliance eventually results in the same thing, every time. Those trying to force compliance become an elite group and are pushed more and more toward a heavy-handedness “for the people’s good”. And eventually the people rebel. Those pushing this today are pushing hard because they see the masses starting to wake up.

    So while you see something harmless like forcing seatbelt compliance, keep in mind that America became great on the heels of personal liberty and responsibility. There are drawbacks, part of personal responsibility is seeing your failures. But the alternative is worse no matter how well meaning forced compliance may be. 
    williamlondon
  • Reply 13 of 29
    1348513485 Posts: 357member
    AppleZulu said:
    Stymyx said:
    JP234 said:
    ...The way to do that is to figure out a clever ignition lock-out that won't let the car start until the drive is actually buckled in, not sitting atop a seatbelt.
    I can tell you, Ford actually tried this in the '70's.  My dad's 1974 Ford Pinto had a "Seatbelt Interlock", which required the seatbelt to be attached before the engine would start.  And if the interlock failed, there was a button under the hood that you had to press in order to start the engine.  My dad was one of those types that refused to wear seatbelts.  Not smart, I know, but that's the way he was.  One day he learned how to defeat the interlock, by hooking the seatbelt buckle on the door handle lever.  Doing that pulled the belt out far enough to where the system thought the belt was attached, and the engine would start.

    Don't get me wrong.  I think not wearing a seatbelt is a stupid idea, and I personally choose to wear one.  But forcing people to wear one when they don't want to, that never works.  If they want to live dangerously, fine, let them.  If they don't, they're only endangering themselves.

    And that Ford Seatbelt Interlock?  It only lasted one model year.  By 1975, it was gone.
    In reality this is never true. A parent who 'opts' to voluntarily eject through the windshield in an auto accident is a devastating loss to the family involved, changing the trajectory of life for everyone else. A passenger who 'opts' to voluntarily flop around in the back seat in a rollover accident, severing their spine in the process, projects the immense costs of their flippant decision on everyone else in the family and/or to others beyond, through taxes and insurance costs required to support that person if they survive. So no, choosing to get in a car and ride around without using available safety restraints is not an independent, libertarian personal choice. It is the externalization of an immense potential cost in trade for accommodating a perceived mild discomfort or impish offense taken at 'being told what to do.'
    There is also the promise of a contributory negligence finding which could bar the injured party from damages because of their negligence for not using required safety equipment. 
    gregoriusmwilliamlondon
  • Reply 14 of 29
    AppleZuluAppleZulu Posts: 2,073member
    georgie01 said:
    AppleZulu said:

    In reality this is never true. A parent who 'opts' to voluntarily eject through the windshield in an auto accident is a devastating loss to the family involved, changing the trajectory of life for everyone else. A passenger who 'opts' to voluntarily flop around in the back seat in a rollover accident, severing their spine in the process, projects the immense costs of their flippant decision on everyone else in the family and/or to others beyond, through taxes and insurance costs required to support that person if they survive. So no, choosing to get in a car and ride around without using available safety restraints is not an independent, libertarian personal choice. It is the externalization of an immense potential cost in trade for accommodating a perceived mild discomfort or impish offense taken at 'being told what to do.'
    The actual reality is that the history of humanity makes it clear that the approach of forced compliance will only succeed for a time.

    America’s approach was unique, and it was wildly successful. Whatever complaints people have about it today, life has never been more plentiful and abundant for a wider selection of people.  People want things to be even better, and that’s great!

    Except that forced compliance eventually results in the same thing, every time. Those trying to force compliance become an elite group and are pushed more and more toward a heavy-handedness “for the people’s good”. And eventually the people rebel. Those pushing this today are pushing hard because they see the masses starting to wake up.

    So while you see something harmless like forcing seatbelt compliance, keep in mind that America became great on the heels of personal liberty and responsibility. There are drawbacks, part of personal responsibility is seeing your failures. But the alternative is worse no matter how well meaning forced compliance may be. 
    The issue isn't personal liberty; the issue is people who see no connection between that and personal responsibility. Internalize profit and externalize costs. Everybody's a libertarian when demanding what they want and a communist when the bill comes due.

    Also, contrary to your suggestion, the reality is that in the US, seatbelts became standard items in the 1970s and compulsory to use starting in the 1980s. Failure or refusal to use them was greatest at the start of that and the least at the present. Combined with standard inclusion of airbags, crumple zones, anti-lock brakes and safety glass, the results are profound.  There's no great uproar demanding that those built-in safety features be made optional. It's actually culturally awkward at this point to insist that you're not going to wear a seat belt. Even though total population has increased and total miles driven have increased, not only have traffic fatalities per capita and per mile driven dropped in that time, the total actual number of traffic fatalities have declined significantly since the peak in the early 1970s. 

    America is at its greatest when personal liberty and personal responsibility are connected. 
    edited June 2023 chasmwilliamlondonfriedmudtmay
  • Reply 15 of 29
    chutzpahchutzpah Posts: 392member
    How about a Magsafe seatbelt, basically an Apple variant on Fidlock buckles? They are extremely easy to buckle and unbuckle.
    Not sure if serious.
  • Reply 16 of 29
    AppleZuluAppleZulu Posts: 2,073member
    chutzpah said:
    How about a Magsafe seatbelt, basically an Apple variant on Fidlock buckles? They are extremely easy to buckle and unbuckle.
    Not sure if serious.
    Yeah, since the "safe" in MagSafe is about the connector disengaging when sudden force is applied. 

    One could imagine that a magnetic fastener designed to do the opposite would have to come with a warning about threats to pacemakers and data storage.
    williamlondon
  • Reply 17 of 29
    chutzpahchutzpah Posts: 392member
    Stymyx said:
    JP234 said:
    ...The way to do that is to figure out a clever ignition lock-out that won't let the car start until the drive is actually buckled in, not sitting atop a seatbelt.
    I can tell you, Ford actually tried this in the '70's.  My dad's 1974 Ford Pinto had a "Seatbelt Interlock", which required the seatbelt to be attached before the engine would start.  And if the interlock failed, there was a button under the hood that you had to press in order to start the engine.  My dad was one of those types that refused to wear seatbelts.  Not smart, I know, but that's the way he was.  One day he learned how to defeat the interlock, by hooking the seatbelt buckle on the door handle lever.  Doing that pulled the belt out far enough to where the system thought the belt was attached, and the engine would start.

    Don't get me wrong.  I think not wearing a seatbelt is a stupid idea, and I personally choose to wear one.  But forcing people to wear one when they don't want to, that never works.  If they want to live dangerously, fine, let them.  If they don't, they're only endangering themselves.

    And that Ford Seatbelt Interlock?  It only lasted one model year.  By 1975, it was gone.
    Don't be absurd.  It works so close to 100% of time.  Just because your father was particularly moronic doesn't mean it doesn't work.  So many people who wouldn't otherwise wear seatbelts wear them because of measures like these.  Don't measures things by the few failures of extreme idiocy.
    gregoriusmwilliamlondon
  • Reply 18 of 29
    chasmchasm Posts: 3,378member
    I still don’t think Apple is making a car (apart from a prototype or two to showcase the tech).

    I still think Apple is building a car *experience* that it will license to car makers in exactly the same way CarPlay has become de rigeur in modern automobiles. CarPlay has been one of Apple’s unsung but resounding successes, and any company without CarPlay is about to get a BIG lesson in consumer preference. I personally wouldn’t even rent, much less own, a vehicle that didn’t support CarPlay, and I think that once the fuller CarPlay experience comes out (was disappointed to hear nothing about it at this year’s WWDC), I think most of the industry will embrace it because they will have to — they’ve got nothing even remotely close to the experience Apple showed off at least year’s WWDC.
  • Reply 19 of 29
    torstitorsti Posts: 12member
    eriamjh said:
    So unnecessary.   The best seatbelt light is no seatbelt light.

    How about a friendly reminder in the voice of Siri to Please, fasten your seat belt instead of an annoying chime?
    It's not even funny how many people does not use safety belt, helmet, etc.
    williamlondon
  • Reply 20 of 29
    dutchlord said:
    Better release the 27 inch M2 iMac…Apple please stay laser focussed. No need for Apple seatbelts and Apple ski goggles. 
    Do you have anything to say other than me-me-me-me-me?

    The most annoying thing before the ultimate demise of MacRumors were all the morons jumping into every single thread screaming, "Mac Pro!" Perhaps there would be a better place for your mirror-based rants.
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