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Apple self-driving cars could have AR windshields perfect for FaceTime

Self-driving cars from Apple could have AR displays.
Self-driving cars from Apple could have AR displays.
Image: ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

Your car could act a lot more like your iPhone in the future — at least according to Apple patent filings for an augmented reality windshield.

Patently Apple found a European patent application for a windshield display that presents map and road conditions in autonomous cars. Apple has been testing self-driving cars, but hasn’t divulged much about the project. We reached out to Apple about the AR display, but haven’t heard back.

So yes, in the future might be able to sit back and relax in your self-driving car while information flashes on the heads-up display. (Don’t get too excited, though. Companies file many patents that never become actual products.) It’s reminiscent of the augmented windows proposed on the ultra-high-speed Hyperloop. Based on where you look and the scenery outside, you’ll see different things on your screen. 

In what truly makes this feel like an iCar, the display would be set up for a FaceTime video conversation with someone  — even somebody in another car. Sure, you could use your phone, but why would you want to do that if you could use your car to chat with someone?

It seems that Apple is also concerned about passengers who might be worried about sitting in a vehicle that can drive itself — because, yes, trust in autonomous vehicles is down. If the system detects high stress levels from your eye motion, posture, gestures, body temperature, breathing rate, eye blinking, or heart rate it can change the AR display to calm you down. 

Another self-driving car system, Drive.ai, similarly shows 3D driving and environment data on an on-board display. “Displaying a simple visualization helps passengers feel more comfortable,”a blog post from last month explains.

What exactly Apple’s AR displays would look like isn’t clear, but hopefully something soothing and distracting. Anything to forget you’re in a car that’s driving itself.

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