Apple's future self-driving car, if ever there will be, will have on board a number of technologies to identify places of interest, objects and other vehicles, as well as check for damage to the windows.
Solutions of digital imaging have been described by the Cupertino company in a couple of patents filed with the USPTO, both approved and published yesterday, 25 August. The first is called "Method and system for providing at least one image captured by a scene camera of a vehicle" (in summary: how to recognize images taken by a vehicle camera), The second one "Window defect sensing and image processing"(detect glass damage by image).
The cameras integrated in cars (now very common) can be used not only to increase the level of driving safety, but also to capture images of places and objects of interest. Reason? Purchase a product similar to what the camera cam photographed. It reads in the documentation:
(…) a person may be interested in an object, for example in a surrounding environment. The user may be interested in further identifying such an object or in identifying similar objects. (…) The user may want to find out if the same or similar items are available for purchase. The user may therefore want to place an order (…) or want to find a store (…).
How many times have we seen something we like pass quickly from the window: well, with Apple's technology it is possible to immortalize it to retrieve all the information afterwards. The camera system would then be able to recognize which object our gaze is directed at when we ask the voice assistant for explanations on the object itself. Not essential, but technologically interesting.
In the second patent, Apple entrusts a camera (or several cameras, even better) with a task otherwise assigned to the sensors: detecting the broken glass of a car window, perhaps precisely that "synchronized window" that was the subject of a patent filed in past. In this case the cameras used are internal, not external as for object recognition. The software analyzes the collected images and warns if there are cracks or defects. This is made possible by grazing and / or directional perimeter lighting through modules that let light pass inside the glass: through this system the cameras are able to identify any problems more easily. It is clear that using multiple images (and therefore multiple cameras) at the same time helps to provide more precise information on the correct state of the windows. Once the break is identified, the system will alert the driver with a warning.
This is not the only method designed by Apple to detect glass problems: other solutions involve the use of infrared light and ohmic heating systems.
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