It could also detect would-be thieves trying to steal the car.
Apple Inc.’s foray into the automotive industry dates back to 2015 when rumors began to surface that the tech company was developing an autonomous EV. That product never materialized even as Apple continued toying with autonomous tech, though a newly discovered patent filing by Roadshow shows the company still has an interest in the automotive industry. The patent details a new piece of technology that would detect cracks in a car’s windshield.
Apple’s new tech would sandwich a conductive film between the windshield panes and use electricity to detect any compromises to the glass. It may seem like an odd and costly addition to a vehicle, though Apple notes in the filing’s “Background” that its system is designed to detect minor cracks that could damage a window’s defrost system. Small cracks can corrode and damage those vital heating elements, and catching any issues early could save money, though replacing a windshield, high-tech or not, is costly.
The tech has several potential uses, including detecting someone breaking into the vehicle. Apple’s system could, theoretically, deactivate the vehicle’s controls to prevent theft if it detects substantial window damage. As with any new car tech, it’s connected, capable of alerting the owner via email or other means like a smartphone alert. It could also be autonomous in Apple’s world, capable of scheduling its own service appointment and driving itself to the service center all without human intervention – though that scenario is years in the future.
For now, Apple’s patent is nothing more than an idea on paper. You can buy it, though it could find its way into future makes and models if Apple pursues the technology. It wouldn’t make much sense to add to a standard windshield as it likely adds unnecessary cost. However, those with heated glass may want to protect their investment.