Staking a patent claim

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Staking a patent claim

Postposted on Thu Dec 12, 2013 12:17 am

I'm 99% sure that someone else has had this idea (not to mention that I have no way to make it happen), but just in case here it is for claim purposes:

Driving home tonight through yet another dark & crappy evening on a wet road that reflects no headlight lumens, combined with the inevitable age-related decay of night vision capacity, this came to me. Replace the acrylic adhesive layer in the safety glass of the car's windshield with a transparent thin-film display membrane that still performs the sticky requirement of safety glass. Drive this display with a stereoscopic pair of cameras complete with IR/night vision capabilities. The display controller will illuminate things on the display in the exact same place as they would be in your visual frame if your eyeball could see them, creating an overlay/HUD that would encompass the entire windshield. The controller would also be able to place masking dots over oncoming headlights to cut their glare. The nav system would be an additional input, highlighting the proper lane or the road signs you need to be following. Brightness would be automatically adjusted so that most of what you see is actual and the aids are transparent enough so as to not block vision. There would be an instant-off switch on the steering wheel just in case.

Oh, and when the display is lit (remember, it's transparent) it would not emit through to the external side of the windshield.

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Re: Staking a patent claim

Postposted on Thu Dec 12, 2013 12:35 am

Obvious thoughts: you need to be able to track the head (and, probably, the eyes) in real time, to adjust the positioning of the objects on the display. Not having a glow outside the vehicle is likely to be Too Damn Hard. Powering the thin film without introducing visible (even if faint) lines is highly likely to be problematic.

I very much doubt the underlying technology - especially on the thin film; everything else (cameras, eye tracking, etc) is probably close - is anywhere near ready. It'd be cool, though, I agree.
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Re: Staking a patent claim

Postposted on Thu Dec 12, 2013 12:40 am

GM has done a HUD for the Corvette and some of their other cars (Pontiac Grand Prix). Apparently they were not popular options though.
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Re: Staking a patent claim

Postposted on Thu Dec 12, 2013 12:54 am

sjl wrote:Obvious thoughts: you need to be able to track the head (and, probably, the eyes) in real time, to adjust the positioning of the objects on the display. Not having a glow outside the vehicle is likely to be Too Damn Hard. Powering the thin film without introducing visible (even if faint) lines is highly likely to be problematic.

I very much doubt the underlying technology - especially on the thin film; everything else (cameras, eye tracking, etc) is probably close - is anywhere near ready. It'd be cool, though, I agree.

The eye/head tracking was just assumed as it's already current tech or, if not, can probably be quickly hacked into a Kinect combined with the face/eye-recognition software of current digicams. The no external glow criteria was always going to be the hard one. As for the wires, the issue is going to be the density of them. Too many and you've set up a diffraction grating and it's all rainbows all of the time for the driver. Not good. I'm thinking there must be some way to transparently dope this membrane ala PCB traces so that it acts like a PCB but without obvious wires. Depending on dopant capabilities and the transparency of multi-level membranes it may be possible to have a power level that covers the entire sheet with doped vias where necessary. If it's really good it could take enough power to act as a defroster/defogger, but that would really be gilding the lily.

My greater point is that there has to be some way for tech to compensate for the declining night vision of us old farts. I can avoid it if I can see it, yet but one month from 50 I already sense that I'm not seeing anywhere close to as much as I used to see at night. Given that the day job has me in the car for 25K/30K miles per year just in Vermont and that I'm at least 15 years from any potential retirement, I really want a tech fix to my problem.

Oh, and dreaming about tech that's "near ready" misses the entire point about tech dreaming. :wink: When I win the MegaMillions on Friday I'll throw a few millions at a VC startup just to get this off the ground.

@BobbinThreadbare:

The GM HUD was a small (about 4"x4" IIRC) box reflected onto the windshield that was nothing more than a repeater for the speedo/tach. I'm thinking much larger. It was also '80s tech.
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Re: Staking a patent claim

Postposted on Thu Dec 12, 2013 1:41 am

Until this becomes a reality, I'd suggest buying only vehicles with xenon or LED headlights. Brighter, whiter, better focus.

Speaking as someone with light-colored eyes and correspondingly enhanced sensitivity to glare, though, I find one of the best things to reduce night vision fatigue is to simply turn the dash lighting down, especially if the manufacturer was dumb enough to use blue backlights.

My current 10+ year old vehicles have green and orange backlighting, respectively, and it will take a large wrecking bar to pry them out of my hands. On a recent business trip my coworker and I drove a rented '14 Malibu and that car had enough blue-hued lighting and LCD graphics across the IC and dash trim to simulate a disco hall. Once I finished horse-laughing at the absurdity of the effect, I found it downright debilitating after dark.
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Re: Staking a patent claim

Postposted on Thu Dec 12, 2013 3:08 am

Many parts of the system you're dreaming of already exist but sure there's room for many more patents to be filed before we can have something that is complete, reliable and affordable.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_0wwcU_IlwE - no HUD though

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FNJ0dqiiQXs - but no cameras here

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ni9nAm-Thsw - pretty crude

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jsG_rvyLnYQ - not affordable
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Re: Staking a patent claim

Postposted on Thu Dec 12, 2013 6:55 am

Sounds quite complicated for something that is little more than a crutch.
The real solution is the self driving car.
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Re: Staking a patent claim

Postposted on Thu Dec 12, 2013 8:14 am

A few thoughts on this, as bits of the tech you describe actually relate to my day job.

- A thin film display large enough, rugged enough, and durable enough for that sort of application is probably still a long, long, way off.

- Minimal emission out the other side of the display isn't as far-fetched as it may seem. Transparent displays which emit (mostly) in one direction already exist (though I'm not sure how feasible it is with tech capable of large and/or curved displays).

- Having a transparent, light-emitting (as opposed to reflective) display which is *also* capable of making spots opaque is a very tricky problem. The ones I'm aware of emit light towards your eye, but remain transparent. So they can overlay an illuminated image on the outside world, but cannot block the outside world.

- The problem with a thin film display is that the image will not be collimated. In other words, you will need to focus your eyes on the windshield in order for the HUD image to be in focus. This will limit the usefulness of the HUD since you will be constantly shifting your focus from the outside world (nominally at infinity) to the windshield (just a foot or two from your face) and back again. HUDs (and other transparent displays designed to be placed between you and the outside world) use some optical trickery to put the image at infinity, so that you do not need to constantly shift the focus of your eyes. Unfortunately, this also has the effect of making the image visible only in a small "eye box" where the optics are able to aim the collimated light rays (i.e. if you move your head more than a few inches the image fades out). There are also parallax issues, since your left and right eyes aren't looking through the windshield at the exact same spot.

- Head motion tracking that is both accurate and low-latency enough to blot out oncoming headlights as your head is moving around is a very tricky problem. Motion sickness is also a very real possibility if the displayed image lags the outside world by more than a couple dozen milliseconds.

- I think a much better bet would be smaller displays worn in front of each eye. This would not solve all of the above issues, but it would help with some of them and also reduce cost by orders of magnitude since the displays would be much smaller and would not need to be as rugged.
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Re: Staking a patent claim

Postposted on Thu Dec 12, 2013 8:49 am

LED/Xenon headlights are great for the driver, but a bit of a PITA for everyone else since the source is so focused.

I think you're going to have a hard time convincing people that anything that overlays on the windshield is safe. Even if the display bits are transparent, they're still getting between the driver's eyes and the road.

Something right in front of the driver's eyes will probably never be accepted until it rises to FAA levels of safety. If such a device were to malfuntion and turn off, it would definitely block the driver's vision.

There's also the issue of whatever cameras or sensors you use getting obscured with snow or dirt, and how the system would handle it.

A much easier step, IMO, would be a full LCD display in the dash providing additional information to the normal visual information. Since it would be considered secondary information rather than primary or augmented primary, it would not need the same resolution or even accuracy as an on-windshield system. Wide angle IR cameras could offer a good FOV, and additional sensors paired with a smart algorithm for signs, lines, and other vehicles could highlight points of interest.

I belive most of that technology already exists. You would still need to handle the dirt/snow on sensors/cameras issue, but as a HDD instead of HUD/overlay, you would get a lot of the benefits Ned is looking for, and it would offer a platform to iterate on, which could eventually evolve with HUD/overlay implementations.
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Re: Staking a patent claim

Postposted on Thu Dec 12, 2013 9:21 am

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Re: Staking a patent claim

Postposted on Thu Dec 12, 2013 9:53 am

superjawes wrote:Something right in front of the driver's eyes will probably never be accepted until it rises to FAA levels of safety. If such a device were to malfuntion and turn off, it would definitely block the driver's vision.

Yup, I didn't even touch on the safety implications. This is definitely a big issue for a display which is capable of blocking light.

Even for a display which is only capable of generating a transparent overlay there needs to be a safety cutoff (e.g. shut off power to the display's source of illumination) to mitigate the possibility of displaying misleading information in the event of a malfunction. And then there's the issue of how you detect all of the HW and SW malfunctions which could cause an erroneous display in the first place, or reduce the probability of such malfunctions to statistically insignificant levels (which is typically defined as a probability of less than 1x10-9 per hour of operation).

FAA (or FAA-like) safety certification can easily increase development costs by an order of magnitude or more.
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Re: Staking a patent claim

Postposted on Thu Dec 12, 2013 10:04 am

just brew it! wrote:FAA (or FAA-like) safety certification can easily increase development costs by an order of magnitude or more.
I did some requirements work on an FAA chip a few years ago. There were about 10,000 requirements...for this one chip...which would go into a board with other chips...which would be packaged with other avionics baords...

There were some redundancies, many of those were simple operational safety requirements, and many of them were supporting other standards like PCI, but it should provide some perspective on how much work goes into getting electronics into the air.
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Re: Staking a patent claim

Postposted on Thu Dec 12, 2013 11:41 am

You are looking for ISO-26262 which is IEC-61508 for cars.
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Re: Staking a patent claim

Postposted on Thu Dec 12, 2013 12:13 pm

dltd.
Last edited by clone on Tue Jan 14, 2014 1:48 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Staking a patent claim

Postposted on Thu Dec 12, 2013 12:20 pm

I believe this is already present in some fighter aircraft. It is projected onto the screen with optics in such a way that the reflection appears "distant" to the eye so there is no need to re-focus (projected at infinity). One of my co-workers worked on this in the late 90's/2000's, but I don't remember the specifics. With the technology at the time, it was VERY expensive.

Google-glass drive assist! Another fancy way to grab personal information. Stop at an intersection, and up comes adds for the stores on the corner plus gas coupons if you are low on gas. Meanwhile NSA satellites have your GPS location down to a mere few feet, so if you cause any trouble *poof*.
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Re: Staking a patent claim

Postposted on Thu Dec 12, 2013 12:25 pm

superjawes wrote:LED/Xenon headlights are great for the driver, but a bit of a PITA for everyone else since the source is so focused.

Especially when they're on a pickup or SUV and are above my eye level in my sedan. I hates them.
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Re: Staking a patent claim

Postposted on Thu Dec 12, 2013 4:17 pm

liquidsquid wrote:I believe this is already present in some fighter aircraft. It is projected onto the screen with optics in such a way that the reflection appears "distant" to the eye so there is no need to re-focus (projected at infinity). One of my co-workers worked on this in the late 90's/2000's, but I don't remember the specifics. With the technology at the time, it was VERY expensive.

Yes, HUDs and various headborne transparent displays work this way. The tech is still pretty expensive, though products like Google Glass (combined with suitable motion tracking tech, improved resolution & field of view, and mass production) will eventually pave the way towards lower-cost solutions that are practical for consumer applications.
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Re: Staking a patent claim

Postposted on Thu Dec 12, 2013 4:24 pm

Here's a potentially different way to handle that, which I know has been worked on a bit in the past: UV lighting.

Add a strong UV light spectrum to headlights. It should already brightly light many of our signs. Add fluorescent or UV reflective bits to line paint and/or road markers. Now that stuff will just jump out of the night when your lights hit them.
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Re: Staking a patent claim

Postposted on Thu Dec 12, 2013 4:37 pm

The problem is controlling which UV spectrum is produced. "Black Light" UV is in the UV to UV-A range, while some high-temperature filaments (notably halogen types) and many types of arc-discharge lamps put out significant quantitiesin the UV-B to UV-C range. The same doped quartz and silicon-glass filtering techniques that remove harmful, higher-frequency UV also tend to filter out much of the lower ranges.
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Re: Staking a patent claim

Postposted on Thu Dec 12, 2013 5:04 pm

Why not just install computer-controlled spotlights that would come on automatically when a road obstruction is detected? I don't mean mere "shotgun styled brights" that broadly light up the whole road, blinding oncoming drivers. Instead, I'm suggesting that we deploy two articulating spots located at each front fender, each light being able to pan, focus, and zoom in or out on one or more figures in the road. That way we don't have to install i7 processors in our windshields and we don't have to worry about where to place the heatsinks.
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Re: Staking a patent claim

Postposted on Thu Dec 12, 2013 5:24 pm

dltd.
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Re: Staking a patent claim

Postposted on Fri Dec 13, 2013 3:25 am

Two thoughts: First, why the windshield, and not a head mounted display (like Google Glass, but better)? That wouldn't really increase the processing or sensing demands, but it would eliminate the need for an $83,000 display, and it would be compatible with any car. You could also take it off if it decided to try to kill you.

Second, wouldn't this currently be illegal, falling under the same category as having a DVD player in the front seat?

Third bonus thought: Robot chauffeur.
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Re: Staking a patent claim

Postposted on Fri Dec 13, 2013 7:23 am

clone wrote:
GM has done a HUD for the Corvette and some of their other cars (Pontiac Grand Prix). Apparently they were not popular options though.
I drove a Grand Prix turbo that had the hud, I ignored it within minutes of driving and went back to checking the dash display instead.

the idea of having the windshield blocking incoming headlights is interesting but I'm not sure we are there yet especially given the litigious nature of society.


I had a 1997 Grand Prix GTP and loved the HUD. Still miss it in my other vehicles.
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Re: Staking a patent claim

Postposted on Fri Dec 13, 2013 9:14 am

clone wrote:
Why not just install computer-controlled spotlights that would come on automatically when a road obstruction is detected? I don't mean mere "shotgun styled brights" that broadly light up the whole road, blinding oncoming drivers. Instead, I'm suggesting that we deploy two articulating spots located at each front fender, each light being able to pan, focus, and zoom in or out on one or more figures in the road. That way we don't have to install i7 processors in our windshields and we don't have to worry about where to place the heatsinks.
more moving parts is always a bad idea, on top of that focused beams that are constantly on the move will do nothing more than distract the driver.

keeping an eye on the vehicles ahead of you is only a part of the equation, drivers need to have a peripheral awareness that focused lights would destroy.

the answer is already in development, I've seen the demonstrations of it in action, the problem has always been cost.


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Re: Staking a patent claim

Postposted on Sun Dec 15, 2013 3:56 am

Melvar wrote:Two thoughts: First, why the windshield, and not a head mounted display (like Google Glass, but better)? That wouldn't really increase the processing or sensing demands, but it would eliminate the need for an $83,000 display, and it would be compatible with any car. You could also take it off if it decided to try to kill you.

This was my first thought. Rather than the windshield, some sort of transparent headset with a built-in HUD that also plugs into the car to communicate with exterior sensors and also display all the dash panel info. You could go a step further and create a beacon that Joggers/bikers put on their body to light them up in the HUD of drivers. Or maybe even some sort of integrated GPS? Dang Captain Ned, we should get together and start patenting!

Of course, one of the downsides of something like this is the privacy issues. Pretty soon insurance companies would be asking "where was he looking during the accident?", and advertisers would want to know how many people looked at their billboards. It could also probably tell quite easily if you're intoxicated.
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Re: Staking a patent claim

Postposted on Tue Dec 17, 2013 5:59 pm

I recall the Grand Prix having a HUD. A simple LCD display layed in the dashboard and faced upwards, and the windshield reflected the display towards the driver. The display could be easily adjusted up or down with a swtich to compensate for the driver's height. It was one of those designs that made you go, "That is simple. Why didn't I think of that?" It was the same concept as those old shooter arcade machines where the monitor faced upwards toward a mirror.
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Re: Staking a patent claim

Postposted on Tue Dec 17, 2013 6:57 pm

The Egg wrote:
Melvar wrote:Two thoughts: First, why the windshield, and not a head mounted display (like Google Glass, but better)? That wouldn't really increase the processing or sensing demands, but it would eliminate the need for an $83,000 display, and it would be compatible with any car. You could also take it off if it decided to try to kill you.
This was my first thought. Rather than the windshield, some sort of transparent headset with a built-in HUD that also plugs into the car to communicate with exterior sensors and also display all the dash panel info. You could go a step further and create a beacon that Joggers/bikers put on their body to light them up in the HUD of drivers. Or maybe even some sort of integrated GPS? Dang Captain Ned, we should get together and start patenting!

That would certainly solve the collimation problem which, I'll admit, did not occur to me in my first attempt at this. No need to create a beacon when an IR camera with good resolution will do that job for you. If you really wanted to get fancy, add specific-wavelength IR emitters to the headlights (which already throw a goodly spread of IR) and tweak the sensitivity of the IR cams to that frequency.

For me, what I really want is something that shows the suicidal deer or oblivious moose hiding just behind the tree line waiting for me to come close and jump in front of me (I've killed 2 deer and 1 wild turkey in car season). Most joggers/pedestrians I meet on the back roads around here are already smart enough to wear reflective gear. The teenagers in the dark jeans and hoodies are taking their chances with Darwin. Typical teenagers. So be it.

I went with the full windshield application because A: there's already a film in the windshield; this would just replace that, and B: because it'd be cooler and more fitting to my age and internal vision of sci-fi geekiness. Nothing wrong with the head-mounted HUD approach, but you can't show off the tech to the passengers like you could with an embedded thin-film display.
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Re: Staking a patent claim

Postposted on Wed Dec 18, 2013 6:47 am

Captain Ned wrote:I've killed 2 deer and 1 wild turkey in car season


Did the deer kill your car in return? How bad was it?

And Moose? Good god, that's terrifying.

And do you have anything that'll stop guard rails and jersey barriers from jumping out and hitting me? :lol:
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Re: Staking a patent claim

Postposted on Wed Dec 18, 2013 8:17 am

Glorious wrote:Did the deer kill your car in return? How bad was it?

And Moose? Good god, that's terrifying.

And do you have anything that'll stop guard rails and jersey barriers from jumping out and hitting me? :lol:

The deer were killed by a 2002 Subaru Impreza WRX and a 2007 Honda CR-V. $4,000 in damage each time. The turkey was bagged by my 2010 Subaru Legacy GT and cost $1,000. All 3 claims covered by the comprehensive section of the insurance policy, meaning no rate-increasing accident on the record.

And yes, I worry about moose. Their numbers are increasing in Northern VT, which constitutes most of my travel area. I'm pretty sure that I'll survive any deer collision, but not at all sure if I would with a moose. Probably have 2-3 people killed here in VT every year in moose collisions.
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Re: Staking a patent claim

Postposted on Wed Dec 18, 2013 8:24 am

Maybe I should try to stake a patent claim on some sort of "moose-catcher."

As like a last line of defense, or something. :P
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