Apple has filed a 21-page patent application for a new way to show information in cars, which was approved yesterday. The company has conceived an infotainment unit that lets one screen show two sets of information, depending on the looker’s viewpoint.
While this idea has been proposed before, the technology that makes it work hasn’t seen much use. Range Rover was the first car company to use an earlier and formative version of this technology. Back then, the company put a polarising filter on top of the screen. This was similar to the privacy screens used on PCs and laptops.
The technology made by Apple is a lot more complicated. It adds to the company’s earlier patent for a privacy display that looks blank to the naked eye. When a person puts on an Apple AR headset or pair of glasses, they can see a picture that wouldn’t be visible otherwise.
The new technology has an eye-tracking screen and a layer of prismatic lenses on top of the display. By changing how the backlight works, the display can show two different images at the same time, and the prismatic lenses make sure that each image is seen from a different angle.
In its long patent application, Apple lists a lot of possible uses, from protecting privacy to sharing the screen. But Apple says that the most obvious use for this technology is as a navigation device.
As the Apple Car project moves forward, it’s clear that the company is thinking about using a single screen in the middle but giving the driver and front passenger only the information they need.
The driver can focus on driving and have all the important information at hand, like navigation and car info, while the passenger can watch a movie without distracting the driver. In the same way, this could let people in the back seat watch different things without having to use multiple screens.