The problem with being in the sales business is the need to constantly outdo your rivals. Automakers know this better than just about anyone, which is why you see gimmicky features installed into vehicles that probably would have been just as good without them. But one never knows what’s going to catch on with consumers and you’ll never catch the big one if you don’t go fishing, so you’ll see patents filed on just about everything.
BMW has reportedly done just that with its new virtual mirror technology system that merges camera-based mirrors with olde-tyme projection technologies. The purpose appears to be something that replicates the experience of traditional side mirrors (which work fine) while adding some modern features that can only be accomplished using the newer stuff.
If you’re doing any kind of regular driving, it’s likely a matter of time before you’ll find yourself confronting a cracked windshield. Maybe a stray rock chips the glass and it spiders out as the car is heat cycled through the winter or perhaps an errant baseball does some real damage during a summer afternoon catch with the family. There is a multitude of reasons but only one outcome — pure, unadulterated rage leading into some mental math as you ask yourself how long you might be able to get away with it going unfixed.
Well, those days may soon be over (minus the rage) because Apple filed a patent application earlier this month that describes a system that would monitor the resistance of a conductive film placed inside/against a sheet of laminated glass.
With both Ram and GMC showcasing multifunctional tailgates this past year, versatile pickup configurations appear to be the segment’s hot new trend for 2019.
It’s a trend that’s likely to continue, and American EV manufacturer Rivian has something even more ambitious in the early stages of development. According to a patent published the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office last month, the company has worked up a set of designs showing a pickup (presumably the R1T) equipped with reconfigurable bed modules. By using a flatbed configuration as the base setup, Rivian can simply tack on different modules to transform the rear for whatever job its owner needs it for.
Do you ever get the sense that much of today’s automotive technology whittles away the more natural aspects of driving? We’ve endured numb electronic steering, advanced driving aids, absent volume knobs, overly complex infotainment systems, and faux engine sounds for a few years now. To be honest, it’s been a mixed bag.
Sometimes these things work toward a greater whole, but they can also be persistent annoyances that detract from everything that makes driving enjoyable. Maybe it’s because I enjoy the act of traveling so much that I’m less eager to see tech muddy its purity. It’s not that I don’t find the new stuff interesting — quite the contrary. Rather, it’s just that I think automotive tech gets in the way more often than it should. But I’m also the kind of moron you’ll see riding a motorcycle through light snow because I “appreciate the experience.”
So it should come as no surprise that, after learning of its existence, I believe Toyota’s virtual sunroof is a bridge too far.