Let the Apple Car rumors roll on. Apple has been granted a patent (number 10,415,286) for a “hinge with feedback.”
The invention involves hinges that connect two structures together to allow pivoting of one or both of the structures around an axis of the hinge. The magnitude of force required to cause motion of one of the structures with respect to the other at the hinge may be dependent on, for example, friction present in the hinge itself.
So how does it relate to vehicles? In the patent data, Apple gives an example of the first structure (item 104 in the enclosed graphic) is a vehicle door and the second structure (item 106in the pic) is a vehicle body, the hinge control process may be applied to allow easier control of opening and closing the door if the vehicle is parked on a hill. Further types of feedback can be applied to vehicles, such as particular tactile sensations indicating that, as examples, the headlights are on, a window is down, keys are present in the vehicle, or that an object is detected in the path of a door that is being closed.
Here’s the (somewhat technical) summary of the patent: “An assembly includes a first structure, a second structure, a hinge that connects the first structure to the second structure for rotation of the first structure relative to the second structure around an axis, and a motion control component. The motion control component applies a feedback force to the hinge in response to an external force that is applied to the first structure. A magnitude of the feedback force is determined based on a current angular position of the first structure relative to the second structure.”
Of course, Apple files for — and is granted — lots of patents by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Many are for inventions that never see the light of day. However, you never can tell which ones will materialize in a real product.