Apple’s interest in virtual reality extends beyond its rumored smart glasses and VR headset. A recent patent application suggests the company is looking at how virtual reality in an automobile can help people with motion sickness. The system would be installed in vehicles, both those with a driver and those piloted autonomously.
According to the recently discovered patent, the VR system would be installed in a vehicle, presumably from the factory.
The virtual reality environment could be projected on a window or viewed within a headset.
Every car would need to be equipped with a sensor system that feeds external data to the VR system to rebuild the outside world accurately.
The system would provide a virtual view that replicates the real world with a few fundamental changes to combat motion sickness. For example, the system could slow or speed up non-critical external visual cues that are known to contribute to motion sickness.
The virtual reality system would be completely immersive, with the virtual view replacing the real-life view right down the smallest details. A stereoscopic view will give the sensation of depth and will change as the user moves throughout the environment. Even the motion and acceleration of the vehicle would be mimicked inside the virtual environment.
Users driving the car in virtual reality would have access to all the vehicle controls, including throttle, brakes, suspension, and steering. Even climate control can be adjusted to make sure the driver is comfortable. The car’s radio system also may be used to send audio cues to the driver.
The patent application mentions this technology could be used in both VR and mixed reality situations, hinting that it could work with Apple’s rumored mixed reality glasses.
Apple may unveil these glasses as soon as this fall with a launch date, possibly as early as 2021. Apple also describes how this VR technology could be used in an autonomous vehicle, a secret project that apple allegedly has been working on for years.
Titled “Immersive Virtual Display,” the patent is a continuation of another patent that was spearheaded by YouTuber and former NASA engineer Mark Rober. Rober has since left the project, but his idea continues to be pursued by Apple’s engineering team.