In-car patentSource: USPTO

What you need to know

  • An Apple patent could reveal several new and very exciting in-car features.
  • The patent relates to an electronic device capable of touch and voice input, mounted in the dashboard of a car.
  • Possible features include navigation that can calculate if you're late, and automatically send a message to other members of a meeting.

An Apple patent published November 7 could reveal some pretty exciting new in-car features that Apple is working on.

The patent (20190339094) is titled 'Voice and Touch User Interface' and the abstract to the patent reads:

Various examples are directed to an electronic device capable of touch input through a touch-sensitive surface and/or voice input through a microphone. In some examples, the electronic device may be used in an automobile. For example, some or all of the electronic device may be mounted in a dashboard for use while driving. The electronic device may provide informational content, entertainment content, navigation, and communication features in such a manner that user interaction may be minimized, thus providing a safe driving experience. This can be accomplished by performing tasks and presenting content automatically, without the need for user input, and by allowing user input through voice controls, touch screen controls, and/or physical controls mounted on the dashboard or steering wheel, among other possibilities.

The background of the patent states:

Many automobiles provide dashboard computers with navigation and content applications. However, most dashboard computer solutions rely on unintuitive user interfaces that are difficult to operate in a hands-free and safe manner while driving.

The patent refers to an electronic device, some or all of which may be mounted in a dashboard for use while driving. It would be able to provide informational content, entertainment, navigation, and communication all while keeping driver interaction to a minimum. The electronic devices referred to in the patent could be a device embedded in your dashboard, working separately or connected to a second device, like a phone:

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An electronic device, as described herein, may comprise multiple electronic devices connected by wireline or wirelessly and/or in communication with each other. For example, a first electronic device may be embedded in a dashboard of an automobile, and a second electronic device may be a portable electronic device. The first and second electronic devices may be in communication wirelessly or by wireline, and one or both of the devices may perform the methods described herein.

The patent details some amazing new in-car capabilities. For example, the device could be programmed to perform tasks or start applications based on sensory information, either from the device or the car itself, like performing a certain task when you start your engine. Similarly, it can be programmed to invoke certain tasks and applications based on your location as tracked by GPS.

The device could monitor location information, learning your frequently-visited destinations and prioritizing displaying those when you're navigating. It could also associate these with certain times of day, for example, if you get in your car every day at 8 am and drive to work, you'll get a suggestion for that route. It can also suggest destinations based on your calendar appointments.

One very interesting feature is control of audio. According to the patent, the system could arrange your audio clips based on the calculated length of your journey, curating a playlist within a certain threshold (e.g. one minute) of the total duration of your route. It can also find short clips in your music collection, and intersperse them between longer songs to simulate "bumper music" on a radio show. If you pause or skip a track, your audio can be dynamically rearranged to fit your journey time.

If music isn't your thing, the system can generate audio clips from textual news articles and read them to you whilst you drive!

The system can also monitor traffic along your route. If you're going to be late for an appointment in your calendar, an alert will pop up on-screen notifying you. You could then dismiss that alert, or better, send a message to anyone else going to that event in your calendar, notifying them that you'll be late.

In car patentSource: USPTO

There's a whole swathe of dense patent language you can feast your eyes on here. Of course, a patent is no guarantee we will ever see this technology for real, however, some of these in-car features are absolutely incredible. What do you think? Let us know!