Apple has applied for a patent that would use interior screens and VR headsets to alter the interior of the vehicle. The VR system would be able to radically alter the car’s interior and the view of exterior environments. The patent, applied for in September 2017 and published last week, is framed as a way to “address problems with vehicles in motion that may result in motion sickness for passengers” by replacing views of the real world with virtual environments.
“Passengers may choose to have relaxing visual experiences … such as floating down a river or soaring over the landscape in a hang glider,” the patent reads. There’s one VR controller that generates virtual content for projection and a mechanism for projecting onto windows of the vehicle. The visuals could then sync with an “active seat” and motion sensors, integrating the physical effects of driving (like turning around corners or stopping at a red light) into these virtual environments.
The patent describes other use scenarios, too. It could make smaller vehicles appear much more spacious, for one. Or users could opt to have a virtual author read an audiobook, live stream virtual work meetings, or reenact car chase scenes from their favorite films.
There have been rumors of Apple developing self-driving cars under the codename “Project Titan” since 2015, with apparent test vehicles spotted in October 2017. The company received a permit for testing autonomous cars on public roads in California, but reports say that efforts to build a car from scratch have been scrapped as Apple is in favor of focusing on autonomous software existing automakers can use. Last year Tim Cook also confirmed that Apple is currently “focusing on autonomous systems.”
In the past, Apple has applied bucketload of patents, but it isn’t necessary that each patent would result in a new product. The new patent also does the same. There’s no guarantee that the tech described in it will actually make it to the market.