In-car AR system could let you FaceTime other vehicles

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Ford CarPlay
Apple has big plans for the future of in-car infotainment systems.
Photo: Ford

Here’s an idea that, on the surface, sounds totally dangerous: an in-car display that let you make FaceTime calls to people in different vehicles. I mean, keeping your eyes on the road is 2017, right?

In fact, the concept — which was the subject of a recent patent application from Apple — is pretty darn smart. Apple’s invention describes a future augmented reality windshield system that could project various bits of information as you drive in an autonomous or non-autonomous vehicle.

The reference to FaceTime is buried in the patent in a line that reads as follows:

“In some embodiments, an augmented reality display system included in a vehicle enables visual communication between an occupant of the vehicle and a remotely located user, including an occupant of a separate vehicle.”

That would seem to be a longer-term scenario, aimed at a world in which autonomous vehicles are the norm. It would also mean a world in which these are sufficiently advanced that drivers do not need to closely monitor the road, as they do with today’s semi-autonomous vehicles, and could instead concentrate on FaceTime messages.

However, the patent also suggests ways this technology could be incorporated into human-driven vehicles to enhance comfort of the driver and his or her passengers.

For instance, it notes how the graphical overlay could be used to display information relevant to a certain environment. For example, this could show the speed a driver is driving at and the actual speed limit, so they can easily check they are driving according to the law.

Apple’s in-car AR plans

This isn’t the first time we’ve written about an Apple patent in which AR is used as part of in-car driving system.

Earlier this year, we wrote about a patent which could transform the way we drive by using mapping data and AR to show drivers more of the road ahead than they can see with their naked eyes.

A great opportunity for Apple

That Apple would show big interest in car-based infotainment systems is no surprise.

CarPlay, the technology Apple introduced several years ago, has been steadily growing in the marketplace. So has Apple’s efforts to develop autonomous vehicles, which it currently has thousands of engineers working on. Apple also continues to investigate augmented reality, which is a technology Tim Cook has raved about in interviews.

Once autonomous vehicles become a mainstream entity (something that is certainly going to happen in the next several decades), the possible range of tasks “drivers” can carry out in their cars will suddenly expand greatly. By investigating these far-flung possibilities now, Apple will be well placed to take advantage.

We don’t see vehicle-to-vehicle FaceTime happening in the near future. Still, it’s great to see Apple thinking long term with its vision, and bringing multiple lines of interest together. And, hey, wouldn’t a long car journey be just the place to get those lengthy FaceTime calls to your parents done?

Via: Patently Apple