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Here’s the surprising device that Apple might revolutionize next

Published Jun 1st, 2021 6:49PM EDT
Apple Car Rumors
Image: YouTube

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Whenever Apple creates a new product, there’s an expectation that it will revolutionize that industry. It happened with the iPod and iPhone, and Apple has since proved time and again that it can still set the tone in other industries once it decides to compete. The iPad, Apple Watch, and AirPods are the latest examples of Apple products that have set new performance and customer experience standards that competitors attempt to emulate.

In the coming years, Apple is expected to announce even more new products. The same unwritten rule will apply. People will expect Apple to reinvent smart glasses with its AR and VR devices soon. But the most daunting task might be to revolutionize the car industry. Apple is rumored to be making its own electric self-driving vehicle. Reports say Apple will design the car and UI, with external partners tasked with assembling the product. Apple has yet to announce its first car model, but newly found documentation does indicate that the Cupertino-based smartphone giant is indeed interested in making an Apple Car. And Apple might be looking to revolutionize airbags along the way.

The first Apple Car isn’t expected until 2025 at the earliest, but Apple is patenting car innovations that prove its interest in cars is very real. The latest car-related patent (USPTO Patent Number 11,021,126) to be awarded to Apple is titled Windshield area intrusion control.

Apple Car Airbag
Fig. 4A shows two optional airbags, including the 415 upper airbag, and the 419 lower airbag. Image source: Apple via USPTO

Found by AppleInsider, the patent was filed in mid-May 2018, which is an indication that Apple’s rumored car team has been developing various innovations in the past few years. The first Apple Car rumors emerged several years ago, but then they subsided. It wasn’t until late last year that the Apple Car rumor mill started churning out more details about Apple’s mysterious car plans.

The new patent details airbag technology that should further improve the safety of passengers in case of a collision. Airbags already do a pretty good job at preventing injuries, as carmakers have been improving them for several years. Apple’s new airbag approach tackles a detail that others might not have considered when designing them.

Apple Car Airbag
Fig. 6A shows a moveable portion 613 that is lowered during regular use (broken lines) and raised during an impact (solid lines). Image source: Apple via USPTO

Apple wants to prevent incoming debris from an accident, whether it’s objects moving through the windshield, parts of glass, and other potential projectiles, from injuring the passengers in the car. Standard airbags might prevent a frontal impact between the passenger and the steering wheel and dashboard, but they won’t necessarily block incoming objects that might pass through a broken windshield.

Apple is looking at placing an object between the passenger and those projectiles, whether it’s a different set of airbags or a part of the dashboard that could create a barrier shielding the passenger. The various technologies, as seen in these illustrations, might prevent debris from reaching the people inside the car or slow down those projectiles to reduce the risk of significant injury.

Apple Car Airbag
Fig. 8A shows a panel housing (824) located at a periphery of the windshield (810) that contains a panel (825) that can be deployed to cover a portion of the windshield. Image source: Apple via USPTO

As always with technology described in patents, there’s no indication that Apple will employ these innovations in its future car projects. But this isn’t the first airbag patent that shows Apple is taking passenger safety seriously.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.