Apple’s latest VR patent looks to solve your motion sickness
The future of travel suggests that, when autonomous cars become reality, we’ll all be sat busying ourselves with entertainment devices. The Byton is a prime example of wanting to turn the driving experience into a moving living room, and it looks like Apple is happy to endorse such visions of the future with its new patent.
Apple’s patent outlines how a VR system could be used in an automobile to help combat the feeling of nausea some passengers get while in cars. The system is designed to monitor for signs of motion sickness and then mitigate against it. Instead of looking at a static image on a laptop screen or phone or reading the pages of a book – all things that make people feel carsick – Apple plans to use a headset to project this image in front of the vehicle.
Apple envisions a situation where “virtual content appears as a distant object stabalised,” while “visual cues of the real environment are moving in the field of view of the passenger”. Personally, that sounds more nauseating than normal but research suggests this could actually cut down on motion sickness.
Another scenario in Apple’s motion sickness-fighting patent suggests that an autonomous car wouldn’t even need windows, and that would cut down on feelings of motion sickness too. Instead of windows, virtual reality displays could show passengers what’s outside and even give them the illusion of being in a space larger than they actually are.
Thankfully the more sensible, and less frightening, method of combating motion sickness could be to create a VR experience that matches the motions of the car, reacting to how it drives. Unfortunately, that’s not as straightforward as it sounds. Not only would every headset have to be fine-tuned to the car itself, but each experience would need to match what passengers are feeling too, otherwise things can become very messy indeed.
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Somewhat bizarrely, Apple also mentions that it could use a car’s systems to create realistic environments for VR experiences. While ideas that the car’s AC system could be used to simulate virtual wind sound cool, the thought of “driving through a post-apocalyptic wasteland with zombies attacking” certainly does not sound like my cup of tea on the way to work in the morning.
Apple has been working on various VR projects for a very long time – if you go by its various patents that stretch back beyond 2016. However, it’s still yet to announce anything regarding the technology beyond potential glimpses of what can be done with ARKit. If this latest patent is anything to go by, it’s clear Apple is looking into VR as a viable platform for the future, rather than a single simple headset.