Recent Apple Patent Hints at a Future of Autonomous VR Cars

According to a patent filed by Apple in 2017, some very fun road trips could be on the horizon.

At first glance, patents are nothing more than a standard collection of technical details and various legal jargon. But hidden within these walls of text are the future possibilities of a company, hidden throughout endless paragraphs like little gold nuggets in a river.

Earlier this week the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office published several Apple patent applications submitted September 2017, leading to some very interesting speculation towards the company’s vision of VR in the future. Some gold nuggets, if you will.

According to information provided in the patent, Apple envisions a future where autonomous cars are centered around VR entertainment. Suggesting the entire removal of windows, interior screens or VR headsets would be used to provide a view of either the actual exterior or a virtual experience.

“In addition to addressing the problem of motion sickness for passengers in moving vehicles and in providing benefits such as improved productivity to passengers in moving vehicles, embodiments of the VR system may provide immersive VR experiences to passengers in vehicles, for example by replacing the view of the real world with any various types of virtual experiences and environments that a passenger may desire,” states Apple in the document.

On top of visual stimulation the patent describes how the physical motions of the vehicle could be used in the VR experience itself to enhance the immersion, providing a captivating, location-based experience not available with in-home VR systems.

“Integrating the VR system with a vehicle in motion provides opportunities for enhancing virtual experiences that are not available while sitting in a room using a stationary simulator or wearing a HMD. For example, accelerations and motions of the vehicle. In some embodiments, active vehicle systems (e.g., HVAC systems, audio systems and active seats) and/or vehicle control systems (e.g., braking, throttle, steering and active suspension systems) with constraints, may be integrated with the VR system to provide physical effects with the virtual experience, for example rushing wind or heat through the HVAC system, surround sound and sound effects through the audio system, and acceleration or motion effects through the seat.”

According to Apple, passengers would have the opportunity to choose what kind of VR entertainment they’d like to enjoy during their commute, from more relaxing experiences such as floating down a mellow river or hand gliding over a serene mountaintop, to more exciting adventures like surviving a zombie apocalypse.

The company teased the idea of combining the physical motion of the vehicle with the VR experience, describing how a VR experience could have you barreling through the apocalypse at high speeds, only to stop abruptly at a red light while a horde of flesh-hungry zombies grows closer and closer.  

Apple goes on to list other possible use-case scenarios such as virtual meeting rooms for livestreaming business conferences, virtual authors reading their work to you side-by-side and virtual talk shows where you’re sitting right in the middle of the action.

Of course it goes without saying that any and all ideas expressed in this document are by no means set in stone. However with rumors circulating about Apple developing its own model car all the way back in 2015, it’s clear the company has its eyes set on the automobile industry. With autonomous vehicles poised to become the next big thing within the transportation industry, it’s up to someone to provide some entertainment during these new-found moments of free time. Will Apple be that someone? 

Last month we reported that Uber was also pursuing patents for VR systems in self-driving cars.

About the Scout

Former Writer (Kyle Melnick)

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